The Real Florida. That’s what they call the Florida State Park system. Whether you agree is up to you, but when you venture out and away from the theme parks of Orlando, you certainly see a different side of Florida. Yesterday we traveled over to the west coast of Florida near the town of Silver River to a great little state park called Homosassa Springs State Park. Our purpose was to visit the wildlife exhibit. This park has a great exhibit of animals indigenous to Florida, including the Florida Panther, bobcats, deer, and many dozens of species of birds, including the endangered Whooping Crane. There are also several alligators and manatees here.
Our visit started off at the main parking area which involved a fifteen minute boat ride over to the park through a canal system that was packed with wood ducks, turtles, cormorants, and other birds. It included an active Osprey nest along the way, although the nest does not become “populated” until later on in November.
Once we were there, we walked along shaded pathways that were mostly elevated above the exhibits allowing for great access to viewing the animals. There is a good American Alligator exhibit and a dedicated manatee pool with several full time manatees. In fact, it turns out that this is a great place to view manatees because there are full time residents here. Normally, manatees stay out in the larger waters of the Gulf and the Atlantic coast until the water cools down to below 72 degrees. They’ll then move inland into the warmer springs to winter, which doesn’t normally happen until late November in Florida. If you’re not here that late in the year, viewing these animals can be difficult. At Homosassa State Park, there are resident animals who stay in the park year round so viewing is not a problem. Also, since they live in a clear fresh water spring, viewing is exceptional.
We really enjoy making trips of all kinds and shooting pictures. Big trips and little one day outings are all good to us. Yesterday we shot about 1800 images between the two of us, hoping for about 30 good ones, but that’s the process. The weather was mild and cool so it was a great day all around.
Homosassa Springs State Park is located along the west coast of Florida north of Tampa and south of Crystal River. It’s about 75 miles from Orlando. If you live in Florida, you should visit. If you’re visiting Florida near the theme parks, you might consider a day trip over to this great state park. You can visit the park in the morning then make your way down the coast to Tampa to round out the day. See the Real Florida.