Drive-Thru Florida Bird Watching at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Looking for a way to go Florida bird watching from the seat of your car? Look no further than driving Black Point Drive at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on the east coast of Florida.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the biggest national wildlife refuges in the area. It is also one of the best budget friendly activities on the space coast. The refuge has something for everyone. For fishing, you can head out to the Haulover Canal kayak launch. The other option is to head to Parrish Park, which sits just past the bridge and has little beach areas. If you are hiking, you can hike sand pine trail. If you would just like to take a short walk on a boardwalk, you can find one near the visitor’s center. The center is also open 9am to 4pm, Monday through Saturday.

bird watching

However, while there are many things to do at this wildlife preserve, what the preserve is most known for is for Florida bird watching! There are over 350 species of beautiful birds in the 40,000 acre preserve.

The most place to view the birds is called Black Point Drive. The website claims that is is 7 miles long, but it is much longer than that! It takes about an hour or so to drive through. Some of the species of birds you can expect to see are pelicans, spoonbills, egrets, herons, cormorant, and other water fowl. If you get lucky, you may be able to spot an eagle.

In addition to birds, you will see gators, turtles, snakes, and more – baby gator pictured below! Bring a camera and some binoculars if you have them. Keep in mind, there are two stops where you can park and exit your vehicle: mile 4 and mile 9. Here you can stretch your legs and explore small trails and some boardwalks with pavilions (shown below). There is also a restroom at mile 9, highly important if you are traveling with young kids! The drive takes much longer than you would anticipate.

Hope you enjoy your Florida bird watching trip to the refuge as much as we did. If you are looking for more to do in the area on a budge, visit our page on the Merritt Island and Titusville area!

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