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Movie star hippopotamus

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

What is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

Florida manateeHomosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is home to a variety of animals native to the state of Florida. The park is home to a many rescued animals, along with its other exhibits. The animals are displayed in open areas which make viewing easy. The park walkways wind among tall trees, providing plenty of shade for Gulf Coast’s warmer days. A bayou extends into the park which is frequented by manatees, one of the park’s main attractions. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park emphasizes natural Florida Manatee at Homosassa Springsand the preservation of native species. It is a worthy stopover on a Gulf Coast vacation, especially for those who want to see manatees, alligators, or other native Florida species. The Homosassa Springs is a great place to spend the afternoon and makes great entertainment for kids.

Where is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?

Homosassa Springs boat rideHomosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located seventy miles north of Clearwater Beach. It is south of Crystal River Preserve State Park and north of Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Crystal River, Homosassa Springs, and Chassahowitzka are all located on the coastline known as the Nature Coast of Florida. The park is situated on a bayou branching off from the Halls River. You will find the park in the community of Homosassa Springs off of Hwy 19 (Suncoast Blvd), or by taking the alternate route on Fishbowl Drive, which is a very scenic back road. An old sugar mill is nearby on the Fishbowl Drive route, for those interested in history. Homosassa Springs FloridaBoth parking areas leads to the same entrance but the large parking area off of Hwy 19 includes an informative and beautiful boat ride over to the parking area on Fishbowl Dr. We recommend the boat ride, because it starts at an interesting info center and gift shop. Plus, on your ferry to the park entrance, you can see the natural Florida environment and a good number of native animals living in the wild. The address of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is 4150 South Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446.

What to See at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs hippoOur first recommendation for things to do at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the boat ride to the park entrance. If you miss this ride, you’ve cut out a vital part of the complete experience. You will hear plenty of interesting tidbits from the boat captain as you wind down the slow moving water channel. You might also learn some history, such as the names of famous movies filmed in the area, and about the only non-native animal in the park, Lu the hippopotamus, granted official state citizenship so that he could stay in the park after the end of his Hollywood movie career. You will find gift shops at either end of the boat tour.

Homosassa Springs manateeOnce you enter the park, where you go is up to you. The walkways wind in different directions throughout the park, displaying both native plants and animals. Any walk along the waterway should be done with your eyes alert. You will undoubtedly see manatees swimming in the bayou. Even better is the underwater viewing room where you can see schools of fish and any nearby manatees. Your chances of seeing the large marine mammals is very good, because park rangers feed them at regular intervals from above. You might also find a number of manatees inside of pens on the others side of the waterway, recovering from illness or injury suffered in the wild.

Florida pantherThe park is essentially a zoo, displaying Florida’s native species. You will see just about any bird you can imagine, plus some others. A few of the larger species are egrets, bald eagles, owls, and even turkeys. You can also view of deer, black bears, wolves, cougars, bobcats, alligators, and otters.

While the park has a concession stand, it is also a great place for a picnic. You also won’t want to miss the ice cream stand just past Lu the hippo’s pool. Alligator at Homosassa SpringsThe park makes for a great afternoon on a Florida Gulf Coast vacation and is just over an hour from Clearwater Beach, making it a great outing for the day. If you are going to strike out from the beautiful beaches of the Central Gulf Coast, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is one of the best attractions out there.

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Gulf Coast Local Secret # 7

Florida Alligators in the Wild

Alligator Palm Harbor Florida

Seeing alligators in the wild is one of the thrilling sights you can experience along the Florida Gulf Coast. While you might just see them on drive down the highway, sitting on bank or swimming across a waterway, it’s more fun to see one from much closer up. Don’t worry. You can view them safely if you follow simple guidelines.

 

AlligatorSafely Viewing Alligators

The good news is that Gulf Coast alligators are generally very well fed by their natural environment and they take no interest in you as food. However, it is best not to trigger their natural instincts. All you need to do is show them respect and keep your distance. An alligator can lunge twenty feet in a very swift charge so stay far beyond of this distance at all times. Also, avoid going between an alligator and the water. Never feed alligators. Please see this link for a complete list of safety tips for viewing alligators from an authoritative source.

 

Catch a Glimpse of Florida Alligators

Homossassa Springs (5)The best places to view alligators in the wild are in Florida’s nature parks. The natural parks of the Gulf Coast are great places to take walks in the woods and along shorelines. When you are near the water, keep your eyes peeled and you might catch a glimpse of a Florida alligator. Two parks well-known for sightings are Chesnut Park in Palm Harbor and Sawgrass Park in Saint Petersburg. The secret of seeing alligators is to look for a low flat object in the water, barely above the surface. At Chesnut Park, try walking along the boardwalk next to the boat ramp. You stand a good chance of seeing baby alligators here, hiding among the brush beside the boardwalk. At Sawgrass Park, scan the main water way and its banks. You might find someone looking back!

 

Alligator Season in Florida

Homossassa SpringsAlligators like warm weather so the best viewing times are spring, summer and fall. If it is cold, you might just see one, but most are tucked away out of sight so viewing opportunities are lower. Otherwise, stay alert whenever you are near fresh water ponds or rivers. Alligators are fun to watch and make great photographs for your Florida vacation photo album. See if you can get your sighting!

Note: If you fail to get your glimpse, try Homosassa Springs where very large, live alligators are on display.

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