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A long-time Florida roadside attraction along US 19, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park morphed from a showcase of wild creatures to a place where visitors can see Florida wildlife up close. Central to the park’s decades-long allure is a clear view into the birthplace of the Homosassa River, which is still provided by a holdover from the days of the park as an attraction, Nature’s Fishbowl, an underwater observatory. Here, visitors can get face-to-face with snook, redfish, and manatees that cruise up into the spring basin during the chilly winter months. A manatee rehabilitation center and special programs about West Indian ...

A long-time Florida roadside attraction along US 19, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park morphed from a showcase of wild creatures to a place where visitors can see Florida wildlife up close. Central to the park’s decades-long allure is a clear view into the birthplace of the Homosassa River, which is still provided by a holdover from the days of the park as an attraction, Nature’s Fishbowl, an underwater observatory. Here, visitors can get face-to-face with snook, redfish, and manatees that cruise up into the spring basin during the chilly winter months. A manatee rehabilitation center and special programs about West Indian manatees help ensure respect for this slow-moving aquatic mammal native to the region. This is a place to bring a camera for up-close photography of some of Florida’s most beautiful native birds, such as sandhill cranes, white pelicans, flamingos, roseate spoonbills, and bald eagles. A nature center teaches with interactive play. Florida natives are throughout the park, from the reptiles in the reptile house to pacing Florida panthers, Florida black bears, and even tiny Key deer. A boat or tram tour connects the showy visitor center along US 19 – part of the original attraction, complete with extensive interpretive displays and a gift shop – with the smaller snack bar and gift shop at the actual entrance along Fishbowl Drive.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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