Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
I have a funny story to start of Florida week – at least I think it’s funny – hubby thought it was kind of weird so you be the judge.
When I was six years old, my parents and I went to visit my snowbird grandparents in Homosassa Springs. We did all the usual Florida excursions, Gulf of Mexico to look for shells and DisneyWorld (this was 30 years ago, before there was a Universal Studios, etc). From DisneyWorld I remember Space Mountain and the It’s a Small World ride. That’s about it. I think I’ve been told I was afraid of the characters, and I don’t recall seeing any pictures of my six-year-old self with Mickey or Pooh and I was quite shy at that age so it sounds right that I wouldn’t pose with anyone.
I do remember going to a place my grandparents called “The Attraction.” My six year old self remembers the flamingos the best – they are still one of my favorite zoo animals. And I remember the hippo smelled REALLY bad. And there were alligators and we got to ride a boat. So when I realized Homosassa was only an hour from Tampa I asked my mom about “The Attraction” and she told me the proper name is Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. And I decided to revisit my childhood and visit “The Attraction” once more.
The place is amazing – no wonder I remember with such vivid detail. My favorite part was the trail they call the Wildlife Walk – it’s a semi-enclosed aviary full of pelicans, flamingos, egrets and herons, as well as owls, bald eagles, and cranes to name a few. The park also includes a large manatee pool, as well as my remembered hippo and several alligators.
And if you arrive via the main entrance you can chose to walk the 3/4 mile birding trail into the wildlife park, or take 20 minute or so boat tour along the creek and potentially see bears, deer, raccoons and assorted birds and squirrels (my tour only saw some ducks and an egret during our journey).
I’m so glad I made this trip. The park is extraordinary and I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves on Florida’s western coast!