We had seen manatees in their natural habitat at Blue Springs State park on the St Johns River but decided to go to Homosassa Springs State Park as one can see resident Mantees all year, not just the wild ones that venture into the springs during the winter season and it has a wildlife park that displays native Florida wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, river otters, puma, cougars, snakes and native birds including a variety of owls, eagles, flamingo, herons etc.
Interestingly the park also has a 55 year old rhino (Lu) left from the time it was a private park. Feeding times are part of the daily educational events in the park, as is feeding of alligators, wildlife encounters and watching the resident Manatees from the underwater observatory or on the many side walks aside the natural spring.
The state park is about 82 miles north of the villa with the drive up the Us27 and Florida Turnpike taking about 90 minutes. The admission fee was $13 per adult.
Entry off the Us98 was via the visitor and discovery centre and an enjoyable pontoon boat ride to the pay entry point. The boat Captain and narrator (Bob) gave an entertaining talk about the native wildlife and the park giving details on the history and habitat and various features as we passed by. The volunteers in the park were very helpful.
Shown below are some of the birds and animals photographed during the walk around the wildlife trail, included are owls, bald eagle, cougar, and otter. The underwater observatory is right next to the natural spring and besides the Manatees it was full of fish that come in from the gulf. It is named the fish bowl owing to the numbers of fish and observatory.
Show below is feeding time for Lu the hippo and a plaque giving the winter Manatee season for the arrival of wild Manatees who come in for the warm water of the springs.
This park is great to visit all year long, it took us about 4 hours to walk around the boardwalk trail and watch the encounters and feeding time. Finished off by a relaxing boat ride back to the entrance. A great way to see native Florida and a great visit for children.