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When you're on the hunt for free beaches around Tampa (that aren't super crowded), you should look no further than Robert K. Rees Memorial Park, tucked away only a short drive north of the city.
You will find this sweet little hideaway on the coast of New Port Richey, off of Route 19, aka "Big 19" if you're local.
While there are many gorgeous coastal parks in the area, what makes this spot a rarity is that everything, from parking to beach and general amenity access, is totally free.
Even if you don't want to swim, you can come to enjoy the scenery via a walk along the 650' boardwalk trail through the swamps and mangroves. The observation deck at the end of the trail offers you ample opportunity to rest your aching feet and take in the picturesque surroundings that you just won't find anywhere else.
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Sea life is aplenty here, and the shallow, calm waters make it easy to find a variety of critters.
It's against park rules to harass the wildlife, so you can look, but don't touch! I often find hermit crabs and snails scooting along here; once in a while I will find a starfish or sand dollar too.
Another really cool thing is that dolphins get crazy-close to the beach here, so this is a really great spot to enjoy watching them splash around from only a few meters away.
There are several pavilions and grills on the island if you want to tote along the family for a picnic at the beach; or just bring yourself and a hammock to hang between a couple of the palms.
Swimming is encouraged in the 185â sectioned-off area, launching a kayak and other small paddle boats here is free of charge too.
I wouldn't be doing this park justice if I didn't mention the incredible sunsets here. When you go on a very calm-winded day, the water really mirrors the horizon.
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Animals aren't allowed at this park, so if you want to bring Fido you'll have to go to here instead. Otherwise, bring your favorite adult coloring book and pull up a chair, you'll be in a mangrove paradise soon.
Robert K. Rees is open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset and is located at 3503 Green Key Rd., New Port Richey, FL 34652.
âThe park's official website is here.