Scenic doesn’t begin to describe Homosassa Springs State Park.
The park has a little bit of everything- rehabbed wildlife, manatees, gorgeous freshwater springs, and tours. The “Wildlife Walk” features many different Florida native reptiles, mammals, and birds. Only one non-native animal lives in the park. Lucifer, A.K.A. Lu, the hippo was a movie star in his youth and now enjoys retirement at Homosassa Springs State Park. He is the oldest hippo in the Americas. At one point, Lu’s residency at Homosassa Springs State Park was threatened. In an effort to keep Lu in place, by Gov. Lawton Chiles granted Lu the hippo Florida resident status (seriously). Lucifer is now in his mid-60’s and doesn’t always feel up for visitors, so we did not get to see him on our last visit to the park.
The Wildlife Walk at Homosassa Springs State Park features Florida panthers, alligators, otters, black bears, foxes, bobcats, a variety of birds, a reptile house, and an aviary. The enclosures are super well designed and maintained, so there is no question that the animals are very well cared for.
However, the most notable things about Homosassa Springs State Park are the manatees and underwater fish bowl, which is essentially an underwater observatory. The warm springs attract manatees, snook, and an array of other fish species year-round. On our visit, the manatees were plentiful. A cold front has been hanging around the West coast of Florida, and the manatees gravitated towards the warmth that the springs provide.