Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Ruskin, FL

  • Published 2021/12/31

There’s always something special about small pocket towns in the outskirts of a huge metropolis.

These towns preserve the old natural beauty of the former selves of these cities.

Its buildings, parks, traditions, and people make these towns a wonderful place to spend some time exploring.

One of these charming small towns is Ruskin, nestled along the Little Manatee River’s shores in West Florida.

The town is best known for its agricultural roots, natural attractions, and outdoor activities, which call for an exciting weekend getaway with the family.

Ruskin is part of Hillsborough County in Florida, and its nearest major city is Tampa to the north.

The town is considered an unincorporated census-designated community.

Historically, Ruskin was part of Chief Uzita’s territory when Hernando De Soto first discovered it in his expedition in 1539.

Since Ruskin is nestled along the Little Manatee River, people can easily access many of Tampa Bay South Shore’s natural attractions.

It also means that Ruskin is virtually a gateway to traditional Floridian activities like boating, fishing, and nature viewing.

Ruskin is definitely a worthy place to visit and uncover hidden gems in its natural attractions.

So, read this post and learn the 15 best things to do in Ruskin, Florida.

Explore the Vast Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve

A woman at Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve

Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wolf Branch Creek Nature Preserve covers 1,400-acres of coastal habitat in the Tampa Bay area.

The nature preserve’s shoreline is filled with mangroves, offshore seagrass beds, and upland cabbage palm hammocks that attract manatees and other marine animals.

This natural attraction in Ruskin is another nature preserve to visit if you want to glimpse Manatees and other marine and land animals that freely roam around in this area.

Before Hillsborough County acquired the nature preserve in 1993, it was devastated by an invasive species of plants called Australian pines and Brazilian Peppers.

Furthermore, the brackish estuary of the nature preserve that served as a nursery for juvenile fish also suffered through excessive agricultural use.

Fortunately, through the efforts of the public and private entities, the nature preserve got saved from utter destruction.

If you want to check out this nature preserve in Huskin, it’s located at 481 Villamaire Rd, near the Ruskin and Apollo Beach, FL.

Learn Something New at the Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center in Ruskin offers you and your kids an exciting outdoor educational tour.

This facility is nestled inside the Little Manatee River Watershed, a perfect destination for exploring Florida’s wilderness.

There are guided tours for the entire family, educating everyone about Florida’s natural environment, culture, and history.

It’s a very cool outdoor attraction in Ruskin worthy of visiting.

Aside from the guided tours, the facility also has other features like the Uzita Native camp, old fishing cabins, and the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is located at 4140 24th St SE, Ruskin, FL.

Be One with Nature at the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve

This nature preserve in Ruskin is part of Tampa Bay’s succession of islands in the southern part of Florida.

The entire nature preserve covers 4,800 acres of wetlands that sprawls throughout Hillsborough County.

It’s highly recommended to visit this attraction to immerse yourself in the sounds and sights of nature.

One of the best activities in Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve is bird watching, so you should bring binoculars.

There are dozens of bird species you can spot in the area that will surely give you a one-of-a-kind experience.

Furthermore, you can hike along its trails or perhaps go canoeing or kayaking on its waterways.

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve is located at 3839 Gulf City Rd, Ruskin, FL.

Breathe Fresh Air at the Shell Point Marina

Shell Point Marina is a major docking area and storage situated between Ruskin, Tampa, Skyway Bridge, and St. Petersburg.

It’s a worthy place to visit if you’re looking for an area to relax and breathe the fresh sea breeze.

It’s also a popular place to date because of its cozy and romantic setting, highlighted with a beautiful sunset every afternoon.

Shell Point Marina has no entrance fee, making it a more convenient attraction to visit Ruskin.

This beautiful marina in Ruskin is located at 3340 W Shell Point Rd, Ruskin, FL.

Explore the Bahia Beach Nature Preserve

Another nature preserve in Ruskin that you must visit is the Bahia Beach Nature Preserve.

The Hillsborough County and the Jan K. Platt Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program acquired the entire nature preserve many years ago.

It underwent restoration and preservation to protect its flora and fauna.

Visiting this place offers you an excellent opportunity to watch bald eagles, ducks, birds, and marine animals closely in their natural habitat.

Or perhaps take photos of the beautiful sunset along Bahia Beach.

There are a lot of outdoor activities you can enjoy in this natural attraction in Ruskin that you can explore.

The Bahia Beach Nature Preserve is situated at 2513 Shell Point Road, Ruskin, FL.

Learn Innovative Farming at the Hydro Harvest Farms

This family-owned business in Ruskin offers you a one-of-a-kind experience in farming.

Aside from learning from farming techniques, you can also pick fruits and vegetables at the farm’s charming gardens.

Visiting this place offers you a wholesome experience with your family and learning about different horticulture techniques.

Above all, you can pick as many strawberries, apples, tomatoes, and onions on the farm, which you can take home with you.

Hydro Harvest Farm is located at 1101 E Shell Point Rd, 33570 Ruskin, FL.

Watch Movies at the Ruskin Drive-in Theater

There’s always something special about watching movies in a drive-in theater.

To experience this old-school way of watching movie flicks at the comfort of your car, head to the Ruskin Drive-in Theater.

The drive-in theater regularly shows the latest and most exciting Hollywood movies.

The theater also has a snack bar that serves delicious hotdogs and burgers if you’re hungry.

Ruskin Drive-in Theater is located at 5011 US-41, Ruskin, FL.

Camp at the E.G Simmons Regional Park

Ruskin’s E.G Simmons Regional Park is the largest outdoor space in town.

It boasts more than a hundred camping sites, picnic facilities, wildlife sanctuary, canoeing, and kayaking rentals.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable outdoor activity, the E.G, Simmons Park is the best place to go.

There are dozens of outdoor activities you can engage in while enjoying the beauty of nature.

It’s the best place for locals for rest and recreation.

You can also spend the entire night at its camping sites.

The, E.G. Simmons Regional Park is located at 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL.

Play Sports at the Ruskin Park and Community Recreation

This park in Ruskin gives you a perfect chance to sweat out and get active.

The park is mainly intended to provide locals with the best place to play sports and engage in different outdoor activities.

The park has multiple sports facilities like basketball, badminton, volleyball, pickleball, and a recreation area.

Furthermore, it has a fitness center and a covered gymnasium intended

for various activities.

However, you need to sign-up to access its facilities.

The Ruskin Park & Community Recreation is located at 901 6th St SE, Ruskin, FL.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Since Ruskin is a small town, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’ve visited all of its attractions within a day.

Don’t worry, though, because you can head to its neighboring cities and towns if you still have more energy for more exciting travel adventures.

So, here are some of these exciting places to visit near Ruskin.

Go for an Underwater Adventure at the Florida Aquarium

Front View of Florida Aquarium

Andriy Blokhin /

A 20-minute drive or 21 miles north of Ruskin takes you to the famous Florida Aquarium in Tampa.

It houses more than 20,000 animals in the 250,000 square feet jaw-dropping aquarium facility.

There’s no need to convince yourself to visit this place because it’s simply the best attraction you need to go to near Ruskin.

Inside Florida Aquarium

Wagner Santos de Almeida /

Don’t miss visiting the underwater domes that feature huge marine animals and fishes from the deepest parts of the ocean.

It also has simulated wetlands that feature popular animals from the Everglades.

After immersing yourself or your family with the massive fish tanks, you can proceed with their 4D theater, wherein you can watch educational films.

Front View of Florida Aquarium

Wagner Santos de Almeida /

Furthermore, this 4D theater features an immersive experience.

It has rocking and moving chairs, real currents, strong winds that simulate real-life adventure about the ocean and the monsters of the deep.

If you want to cool off from the blistering Florida heat, the facility has a water playground where kids and adults can use.

The Florida Aquarium is situated at 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL.

Have Fun at the Busch Gardens Tampa

View of Busch Gardens Tampa

Dolores M. Harvey /

Another attraction in Tampa that you must visit with your kids is the Busch Gardens Tampa.

It is a theme park that offers a cool theme park, a zoo, and a safari.

If you’re seeking an exciting place to visit near Ruskin, the Busch Gardens in Tampa is the best place to go.

View of Busch Gardens Tampa

Peter Etchells /

It has thrilling theme park rides like a roller coaster, bumper cars, etc.

You can watch the colorful and mesmerizing fireworks show during summer nights and the holiday season in this theme park.

Busch Gardens Tampa is situated at 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL.

View of Busch Gardens Tampa

Wallace Teixeira /

Watch Entertaining Performances at the Tampa Theater

shutterstock 1454560094

ImageMD /

The Tampa Theater was the former “Movie Palace” that opened in 1926 as one of the first movie theaters in Florida.

Today, it’s converted into the amazing Tampa Theater.

The theater has numerous focal points.

It has a well-preserved old-style glass ticket booth at its entrance, while it also has a classic brick structure that encompasses its entire design.

Once you enter the theater, you can choose from its plush crimson red seats impressively arranged in a semi-round position fronting the stage and its video center.

It regularly holds amazing theater performances, independent documentaries and films, and foreign works.

It’s a worthy place to visit as it offers you a unique, entertaining experience you won’t have in regular theaters.

This hundred-year-old theater in Tampa is located at 711 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL.

Go on a Boat Tour at the Little Manatee River State Park

Sign in Little Manatee River State Park

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Around 12 miles southeast of Ruskin will lead you to the Little Manatee River State Park.

This swampy nature preserve in Wimauma has been recognized as an Outstanding Florida Water.

It’s a must-visit place for nature enthusiasts who want to glimpse the teeming Florida wildlife.

You can get a rare opportunity to take a closer look at the elusive sea cows or Manatees who thrive in the park.

View of Little Manatee River State Park

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, you can also encounter alligators, different bird species, and reptiles that you’ll only see in Florida.

Outdoor activities like boat tours, hiking, horseback riding, camping, and canoeing are very popular for visitors there.

The Little Manatee River State Park’s address is 215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, FL.

Embark on a Nature Adventure at the Bullfrog Creek Mitigation Bank

This conservation area in Sun City, six miles northeast of Ruskin, covers 189 acres of wetlands that thrive in different wildlife.

The Bullfrog Creek Mitigation Bank is a wetland area wherein you’ll see alligators, freshwater fishes, birds, and other animals that naturally inhabit the area.

For nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, it calls for another exciting opportunity to explore and embark on a nature adventure in this untamed area of West Florida.

Flex Your Skateboarding Skills at the Apollo Beach Skate Park

This massive skate park in Apollo Beach is roughly a 10-minute drive north of Ruskin.

For travelers who happen to be skaters as well, they can enjoy the skatepark that sprawls on an 11,000 square feet area.

It offers a unique experience for skaters from its three-pointed star-shaped course.

Since it opened in 2012, the Apollo Beach Skate Park has hosted countless local and major skateboarding competitions.

Ultimately, the skatepark offers skateboarding lessons for adults and kids.

So, it’s completely a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn something new while traveling in and out of Ruskin.

The Apollo Beach Skate Park is situated at 664 Golf and Sea Blvd, Apollo Beach, FL.

Final Thoughts

Nature calls you in Ruskin because of its vast natural attractions, parks, and wildlife waiting for you to discover.

Ruskin might be a tiny town, but it has dozens of alluring attractions and memorable experiences you can bring back home with you or with your family.

This travel destination is perfect for families, seasoned travelers, and nature lovers.

Immerse yourself with the wonders of Mother Nature that you’ll only see in Ruskin and its nearby places.

Don’t forget to bookmark this post for an instant itinerary in your travel adventure in Ruskin.

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