Two large manatee festivals celebrate Florida’s beloved manatee every January – one in Orange City and one in Crystal River. These two locations are probably the best places in the state to see manatees well and in great numbers. First up: Jan. 13 and 14 in Crystal River.
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When it’s chilly, you can see dozens of manatees at this free park. Even without manatees, the Orange River is a beautiful kayak trail through Old Florida scenery.
If you’re lucky, you can see manatees in lots of waterways around Florida, but here are a few locations where, in winter, you can reliably admire these charming creatures — and even kayak with them.
The magic of manatees draws thousands to the Crystal River on the Gulf Coast each winter. Here’s a practical guide to manatee experiences in Three Sisters Springs and Kings Bay — kayaking with manatees, swimming with manatees or admiring them from a boardwalk.
It’s not the best known destination in southwest Florida, but there are a lot reasons that make Lovers Key State Park so lovable: A 2.5 mile beach lined with natural vegetation that is perfect for beachcombing and bird watching, and mangrove-lined waterways that are draws for both manatees and kayakers.
The park is beautiful, and the paddling opportunities are numerous, but the campground is just fair. The spring is a great place to swim when you seek to escape the summer heat, but you can’t swim here in winter because its overrun by manatees seeking safe haven.