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GARDENS: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Check out these charming gardens, beach and river on Florida's east coast. Page 4.
As we've explained, Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Matanzas River on the west.
The river is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, a chain of inland waters that run along the east coast of Florida, and then all the way up the eastern seaboard of the United States.
The Intracoastal Waterway is the boating equivalent of Interstate 95, and impressive pleasure craft from up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States are regularly seen navigating this waterway through coastal Florida communities.
The gardens of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park aren't precisely on the river, but are only a few steps away under the shade of the live oak hammock.
When you're ready for a break from the gardens it's fun to walk down to the seawall along the river and stretch out on a bench overlooking the river.
It's a tranquil natural scene as the neither the islands in the middle of the river, or the opposing shore, are developed.
Manatees have been seen wandering along the seawall right in front of your bench, most likely in the warmer months. On the day we were there a pair of dolphins were sighted in the river just minutes before we arrived.
You can fish along the seawall, or from a river beach that is accessible a short walk from either the gardens or the picnic area. Drum, flounder, redfish, and trout are regular catches.
Florida residents will not need a permit to fish from the shoreline of the park, but non-residents are required to purchase a Florida Saltwater fishing license.
You could likely launch a kayak from the state park, if you were able to carry the kayak a couple hundred yards from the parking lot to the river. There isn't a boat ramp for larger craft.
However, a county park a few miles south of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park offers a boat ramp and picnic area that seemed to be quite popular the day of our visit.
To find this boat ramp just turn right (south) on AIA when leaving the garden part of the park. Drive a couple of miles and look for the boat ramp on your right. You can't miss it.
By the way, the seawall or river beaches would be a great place to watch the beginning of a sunset. However, keep in mind that Florida's state parks close at sunset so you won't be able to stay to see the very end.
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