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Visiting Manatee Park

Manatee Park, located in Fort Myers, is a great place to visit when the temperature drops because that is when manatees come to the park in search of warmer water.

Although we really don’t have a winter here in paradise temperatures can get a little cooler during January and February. If it’s in the 50s or low 60s the beach is really not the best bet, especially if it’s windy outside.

Manatee Park is a non-captive refuge for the endangered Florida manatee. When the temperatures of the water in the Gulf of Mexico and the rivers drop below 68F the manatees come in herds to Manatee Park seeking the warm waters generated by the Florida Power and Light discharge canal.

When to Go

The park opens at 8:00m and closes at sunset daily. For optimal viewing go on a cold day and check the Manatee Park website for updates. Mornings are the best time to go. an “All About Manatees” free program is offered at 11am and 2pm each day.

The brackish waters of the canal are pretty dark so even if the manatees are there you really need to wait for them to come closer to the surface or come out to breath to be able to see them.  Make sure to bring dark glasses as that will help with the glare on the water and will make seeing them easier.  For better pictures consider bringing a polarized lens for your camera to minimize the glare.

Florida manatees. Photos by Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz.

Florida manatees. Photos by Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz.

 

Other Things To Do At Manatee Park

Manatee Park has a playground for children as well as pick nick tables and pavilions. You can rent canoes and kayaks to paddle along the rivers and canals. The 17 acre park has lots of winding walkways, boardwalks and trails through different native plants habitats as well as a butterfly garden.

We visited Manatee Park for the first time last year.  We didn’t get there until noon and by then the weather had warmed up considerably on that particular day. We got to see only a couple of manatees, among them a mother and baby. It was a wonderful experience. Both my kids loved the manatees and had a wonderful time chasing butterflies, running around in the native plant gardens and learning about different Florida habitats.

Native Florida flowers. Photos by Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Native Florida flowers. Photos by Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

After listening to the all “All About Manatees” talk we had a pick nick and the kids had fun playing in the playgrounds.  There is one for toddles and one for smaller kids. We are planning to go there again now that the weather is colder and hopefully we will see a big heard of manatees this time.

More Information

  • For more information and to make reservations for kayak and canoe rentals you can visit the Manatee Park website.
  • You can print a Butterflies of Lee County guide HERE.
  • You can download a Manatee Park brochure HERE.

 

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About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula is a freelance writer, translator & marketer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on subjects ranging from travel and food to parenting and bilingualism. She enjoys traveling, good food and is always in search of new things to do and in Southwest Florida.

10 comments

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  1. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    I want to go here so badly! Manatees are the cutest things ever! :)

  2. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    Animals and a Park…my sons favorite things!

  3. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    Oh this is great timing. We are planning a visit to the area soon! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    We love going to the zoo. This one is nice. How big is the park?

  5. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    How nice! I love seeing people taking the time to do outdoor activities with their children. :) This place sounds nice. Wish we lived closer!

  6. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    Great post. I haven’t been to Florida since I was 11 but I have fond memories of viewing the mantees in the Gulf of Mexico

  7. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    I wish we lived where there were things like this to do! It looks so fun. It is way too cold for us to have that! Thanks for sharing your fun time :)

  8. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    Manatees are so cute! And those flowers are gorgeous. You all must have had a fun day :)

  9. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    Thanks for this information. I am going to add it to my places to go list for the next time we are down there. It sounds like fun.

  10. Tara Gauthier

    This looks like a great place to visit and those Manatees are so cute! I love that they have those great flowers too!

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