The De Soto Memorial is a great little gem in the national park system. Located on the Manatee River, it has wonderful views of the river, Tampa Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico in the distance. It is a favorite site of local portrait photographers. There is a nice little hike through the mangrove forest, and the twisted gumbo limbo trees are something to see. Combine this with a trip to the beach (it’s just down the road from Anna Maria Island) or to nearby Robinson Preserve (on the river to the west) or Emerson Point Preserve (Emerson Point is right across the river). You can do a great kayak/paddleboard tour of all three parks (put in at Robinson Preserve or Emerson Point). Plan your visit around one of their special events if you can. The concerts on the lawn are great and their December luminary event is magical.