It was about time for my family to get out of the house for some fresh air. Being cooped up inside was starting to make everyone a little squirrely. But instead of heading back to one of the theme parks, we had decided to visit another Florida State Park. This trip we headed back over towards the Gulf to check out Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
This place kind of took me by surprise as I was thinking it would just be another State Park with nature trails we could explore, but it was so much more than that.
When we first arrived we were greeted by a huge Manatee out front of the visitor center. Parking was free which was nice.
Inside the visitor center was a little museum with some old photographs and plenty of history about the State Park.
I feel like I’ve seen this Manatee before but wearing a different shirt? I’ll have to look into this more at some time, or maybe I just need more sleep.
Just outside the restrooms was the first penny press machine I found and had information that there was another one somewhere.
The pennies from this first machine had images of a couple Manatees, an Alligator, a Wolf, and a Florida panther.
After we had enjoyed the visitor center we headed out back to where the Boats and Trams were located to take us further into the Park.
We lucked out and one of the tour boats was about to leave so we jumped on board and had a wonderful little adventure. The ride took maybe 15 minutes down the river and the tour guide gave us plenty of details about the river and made sure to point out some local wildlife like turtles, cranes, and even a couple gators along the riverbank.
After the board tour docked at the far end of the river we exited near another parking lot along Fishbowl Drive. We saw people crossing the street towards another building that lead the way towards the Wildlife Walk.
Inside was a little gift shop to one side, and a food counter on the right side called the Wildside Cafe. We stopped for a light snack and some drinks to cool off.
Just past the Wildside Cafe was the second pressed penny machine, thankfully this time not near the restrooms.
The pennies at this machine rolled a bit short, but most of the designs came through. The set included images of a Pather, a Manatee, an Eagle, and a Bear. Hopefully, we wouldn’t be running into any bears or Panthers on this nature walk.
After I used the penny machine there was a desk towards the opposite side of the building where you paid a small admission price to explore the Wildlife Walk.
I was amazed that even at this time of year we were able to see a couple Manatees in the wild. These really are amazing creatures and I never get tired of seeing them in the wild.
They definitely were proud of their Manatee residents at the park. It was interesting to read all the information boards they had in this area with details about them.
Now it was time to explore the Wildlife Walk. It was a nice raised wooden Boardwalk type path that wound through the park.
It was nice a wide so everyone had plenty of space and you could take your time without feeling like you were holding anyone up.
Of course, we are in Florida so there has to be the standard Alligator exhibit with some of the biggest gators I’ve ever seen up close. Thankfully they looked well fed and were just enjoying the sunny afternoon.
This was not a zoo, so there weren’t any exotic animals on this walk but instead, it was promoting Florida local wildlife. I found this kind of refreshing as it seemed to fit better in the state park.
Eventually, we made the entire tour around the Wildlife Walk and found ourselves back at the Tram / Boat station. This time we opted to try the Tram which was just a trailer with seats attached to the back of a pickup truck. It was a quick drive along the river but no tour guide this time around. The tram was more all business just getting you back to the visitor center as quickly as possible. But cutting its way through the tall trees and green surroundings was still a nice way to end our day.
We had a fantastic day and really enjoyed just being outside. Florida State Parks are really becoming our favorite way to spend some quality family time together, get some exercise and of course, find a few pressed pennies every now and then.