West Centeral

Florida’s Native Wildlife in a Natural Setting

Ellie Shiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Dedicated to the rehabilitation of native Florida’s injured birds and animals, Ellie Shiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State park offers visitors an up close and personal opportunity to see the parks residents. The park is located on the natural spring which feeds the Homosassa River and this 210 acre natural setting provides the perfect home for the birds and animals that can not be returned to the wild.

John and I started at the Visitor center where we learned about the early days of the park when it was a privately owned exotic road side attraction before the State purchased it.

To get to the main entrance you can either take a tram or a pontoon boat ride. John and I chose the 20 minute boat ride which winds around through moss covered trees and where we saw turtles, wood ducks and osprey in their natural habitat.

Once inside the park walk the 1.1 miles of boardwalks and paved sidewalks for your close encounters with native birds, like the Roseate Spoonbill and animals like the Florida Panther. The only animal there that is not native to Florida is a hippopotamus named Lou who was a previous resident from an earlier attraction. Lou being a local celebrity, as he once appeared in television, was allowed to remain in residence at the public’s request.

The Fishbowl as they call it, is a unique underwater viewing center for the observation of manatees and the many species of fish which are attracted to the natural spring.

Educational programs run through out the day on the birds of prey, manatees, the hippopotamus and others. There is also a hands on educational center for children

John and I had lunch there at the Wildside Cafe’ located at the main entrance to the park, where the menu items are burgers and sandwiches. We found the food to be very good and prices were reasonable.

Pets are not allowed in the park but kennels are provided at the visitor center.

For people traveling with disabilities all areas of the park are easily accessible, even the pontoon boat ride had a place for people in wheelchairs. (the tram in not accessible) For anyone who is not comfortable with the boat ride there is a second parking lot at the main entrance.

Admission to the park is $13.00 for 13 and over and $5.00 per child children under 5 years of age there is no charge

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park is located at 4150 South Suncoast Blvd (U.S. Highway 19) in Homosassa Florida 75 miles north of Tampa and 90 miles Northwest of Orlando

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