Neal Preserve’s 120 acres include both coastal habitats, such as mangrove forests and salt terns, as well as pockets of oak hammock uplands. Acquired in 2005, the site features passive outdoor recreation opportunities including a 20 foot tall observation tower, shell trails, and boardwalks that wind through the coastal environment. Located on the south side of Manatee Avenue, overflow parking is available on the north side of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.
Neal Preserve is a very historically significant site. As you walk, imagine the active Native American culture that once existed here. Your route will move past reconstructed burial mounds (the originals were excavated in the 1930’s by the Smithsonian) through an area inhabited from 3000 BC to 1400 AD. Remember all of these are protected and collecting is not allowed in this “open air museum.”
Like many of the County's conservation sites, Neal Preserve represents a success story of partnership. State and national agencies played a role in the preserve's development, beginning with assistance from the Florida Communities Trust, who contributed $3 million toward the purchase price; SWFWMD, who provided the habitat restoration funding; and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection using pass through funding from the US Department of the Interior, Land and Water Conservation funds for the construction of the parking lot, pavilion, signage and observation tower and pass through funding from the Federal Highway Administration Recreational Trail Program for the trails and boardwalks. And local partners such as the Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay Estuary Program brought hundreds of volunteers to the site to become a “hands on” part of the restoration.
Thanks to help from these organizations, Manatee County continues to preserve these sensitive lands while providing unique passive recreation.
Due to the sensitive nature of the habitat and nesting bird sites, pets are not allowed at Neal Preserve. We recommend leaving bicycles at the provided bike racks as the trails may be too narrow for bicycles. We encourage visitors to explore the half-mile of shell and boardwalk trail on foot and enjoy a peaceful recreation experience.
Things to Do
Neal Preserve offers the following recreational opportunities:
- Bird Watching
View Manatee County Preserves in a larger map
Contact Information and Hours of Operation
Neal Preserve is open sunrise to sunset
For more information: