A typical day in July will be hot and steamy and it was the day we visited Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Don’t let that stop you from making a trek out there however. The shady elevated pathways and the location near the Gulf of Mexico keep it pleasant even during the hottest days.
The main lobby and gift shop is right off HWY 19 and easily accessible. The parking area is large and parking is free. The air conditioned lobby is a museum as well and has wonderful displays and even a life size gator on the floor for children to examine closely. We enjoyed a cake purchased from the small bakery while waiting for the next boat out to the park.
A riverboat takes you upriver to the actual park location. The captain points out different wildlife that he spots during the trip. Each trip is different. The ride takes about twenty minutes. We saw turtles and large fish, herons and nests. The captain noted spots where other wildlife is often found.
As we walked around the elevated boardwalk, breezes swirled over and under. There were assorted cages of all kinds of animals native to Florida. Cougars, bears, flamingos and many other types of local exotic bird life. Some in large aviary’s and some in fenced grassy areas beautifully landscaped. We attended several educational programs during our walk.
Around four o’clock we observed many of the animals being fed. It was quite a sight to see the park’s mascot, a large hippo dining daintily on a pile of greens. The hippo is the only animal not native to Florida and has been at the park for many years. Long before it was a state run park.
The highlight of the day was watching the manatees swim in crystal clear spring waters. These cool waters encompass quite a large area. There are four or five manatees that live permanently and several that are recovering from injuries that will be released later. The manatees that stay year round are not able to survive in the wild due to various reasons. There are grandstands to sit on so everyone can enjoy the view. On the other side of the spring fed lake is an underground viewing area. We walked over to it to watch the manatees being fed large quantities of lettuces. Seeing them chew it underwater, up close and personal was quite an experience.
The park is family friendly. There is a second large air conditioned building with a small restaurant, gift shop and restrooms and water fountains. There ls no smoking allowed anywhere on the grounds.
The entire park is exceptionally clean.
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd (Highway 19)
Homosassa Springs, FL
Hours are 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day of the year.
The price of admission is $13.00 for adults, Children 6-12 $8.00, under 6 is free. There are group rates for groups 10 or larger. There is also a 20% discount with AAA membership that we took advantage of.