Few animals exude Florida’s wildness like the manatee. Lately discharged from the endangered species record, the manatee makes its home in many of Florida’s rivers and springs and can only be seen up close in the wild in a few regions of the world. Making The Most Of Your Visit To The Sunshine State is the main jargon of Florida’s tourism sector as of this moment. At the national parks listed below, you can get up close and personal with manatee habitat, along with many other attractions. These parks offer a wonderful natural learning opportunity that is ideal for a family vacation or just a day trip. Read about all of the parks below and be sure to include them on your next trip to Central Florida.
Homosassa Springs State Park
While manatees are part of the Homosassa Springs area’s attraction, the Homosassa River area has been home to many different creatures. In the 1960s, the park was home to many exotic animals, such as an 8,000-pound hippo that is now the only non-native animal in the park. With photo moments every few feet and excellent animal shows every hour, this park is ideal for almost any family or adult visiting the Sunshine State.
While Florida is known for its beaches, there is also an enormous amount of wildlife and natural beauty to see inland, and at the top of the list is the manatee. They weigh about 1,000 pounds and are 9 feet long; nothing like the “mermaids” that historical explorers and sailors believed them to be. Manatees at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park can be seen above and below the water in an observation channel. Park rangers feed the manatees and offer educational shows to teach young and old about the animals and make visiting the park fun.
Although many men and women equate Homosassa Springs State Park with manatees in addition to the fish in the springs, there are many unique animals to see and discover in the park. This hippo has spent his entire life in the park and received honorary citizenship from Governor Lawton Chiles when the park was purchased by the state and reserved for native animals. Lu performs a daily demonstration that is a must-see, especially for children. Be careful though, in case you’re near the fence, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on these creatures behind, or maybe it’s part of the sequence.
Manatee Springs State Park
As soon as you enter through the west entrance, visitors can go from exhibit to exhibit, picking out their animal shows along the way. In front of the playground, there are restrooms and food stations to make the tour as enjoyable as possible. Although manatees can be seen throughout most of the year, they tend to be in Manatee Springs throughout the winter months, seeking warmer waters inland. The park offers a pool at the springs, and snorkeling in this area is essential. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards can be launched from the old boat dock so people can get up close and personal with manatees.
While visiting and exploring, you may also be in the mood for some regional barbecue cuisine delivered near the springs. And if you decide to stay for a while, you’ll find accessible campsites that allow you to see nearby Fanning Springs State Park as well. Plus, at the springs, you’ll find pavilions for rent that include access to water and electricity.