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5 Things to Discover at Manatee Park

‘Tis the season for wildlife viewing in Manatee Park. Come winter, this Fort Myers marine refuge is one of the best places to see manatees swimming blissfully in their natural habitat. Bring the kids for wholesome family activities during peak manatee season and discover other things to do all year round.

1. Learn the science behind the attraction.

It’s no accident that Florida manatees have a park named after them. During colder months, the Gulf of Mexico can drop below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which prompts these mammals to seek out warmer waters. Just across the street from the Manatee Park canal is the Florida Power & Light plant, which naturally warms up the water as the equipment cools off. So between mid-December and March, you’re more than likely to spot manatees swimming freely around their winter home.

2. Walk the waterfront trail.

Within this 17-acre refuge, a paved pathway and boardwalk follow the curve of the canal. Start at the Viewing Center to get the latest information on wildlife sightings and water temperatures before setting out on the Manatee Trail to catch clear views of these curious creatures surfacing for air.

A man paddles through the mangroves in Cape Coral

3. Go kayaking on the Orange River.

You might very well find yourself surrounded by sea cows when you get out on the water. Rent a kayak or canoe in Manatee Park and navigate the tranquil Orange River past a tangle of mangroves. Along with the hundreds of manatees that inhabit these waters, you may also spot massive tarpon, turtles sunning themselves and a variety of birds.

manatee in water sticking nose out of surface of water

4. Meet a manatee expert. 

During the high season, volunteer naturalists are on-site to share their expertise in free and informative sessions. Along with learning fun facts about manatees, you can also join guides who lead ecological walks through the park to offer insights on the native flora and fauna.

Butterflies thrive in the butterfly aviary at Calusa Nature Center

5. Find more natural beauty. 

Wildflowers bloom on the banks of the river, and an expansive Butterfly Garden naturally attracts butterflies and other native insects. Recently, the rare atala butterfly was released into the gardens, and volunteers continue to remove non-native plants and preserve the integrity of this natural landscape.

6. Watch from afar.

A live webcam allows you to check on the residents of Manatee Park on your own time. You even have the option to control the camera yourself and enjoy views of the canal, the Orange River, flatwoods, wetlands, and beyond.

As you can see, we’re mad about manatees and are committed to protecting these creatures in the wild. Come see why we love them so much!