Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »
The Perfect Gift for Travelers: Our #1 New York Times® best selling book »

Homosassa, Florida

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Meet manatees face-to-face at this zoo for native species. 

Meet a manatee face-to-face without even getting wet at Florida’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Underwater viewing stations allow visitors to see the manatees - and other fish that they swim with - up close and personal at this showcase for Florida’s native wildlife.

In a natural setting of wetlands and woods, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park hosts daily educational programs on alligators, Florida-based snakes, and more. The park houses black bears, river otters, cougars, foxes, bobcats, panthers, wolves, whooping cranes, and hundreds of birds. It’s just like a zoo, except the setting is much more natural and all of the animals on display are native to the region.

It’s not just the design and animals that attract visitors, though. The park is also known for its well-informed volunteers who guide tourists through the entrance on a train or tram - your choice. A boat ride around the park is another opportunity to learn from the volunteers, who know their facts and figures so well that the park has twice won the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Gold Medal Award, which honors the best State Park service.

While the parks many occupants are a stunning sight at any point of the year, a favorite time for visitors is the holiday season when special themed lights enhance the experience.