Many visitors of Anna Maria Island and guests of Dan’s Florida Condos, have a great time taking a little half day trip where they are almost guaranteed to get a close up glimpse of Florida’s Favorite Manatees! Located in Apollo Beach, Florida, the TECO Manatee Viewing Center serves as a protected marine sanctuary, providing visitors with a unique chance to observe manatees in close proximity. Guests can explore enchanting butterfly gardens, ascend an impressive observation tower, and traverse boardwalks and walking trails. The park operates seasonally, welcoming visitors from November to April.
The Manatee Viewing Center, operated by Tampa Electric, reopened on November 1 2023, introducing an exciting enhancement for the 2023-2024 season. A new observation platform extending 150 feet into the canal off the tidal walk promises visitors an even closer encounter with manatees. Jamie Woodlee, the center’s operations administrator, shared the news and highlighted the platform’s official opening on November 15.
TECO took advantage of the off-season to revamp the gift shop and introduce two electric golf carts for convenient transportation between the overflow parking lot and the viewing center. Additionally, Canoe Outpost established a launch on the property in collaboration with a third party, requiring RSVPs at 813-634-2228.
The Manatee Viewing Center, a key attraction at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center, is a collaborative effort involving Tampa Electric, The Florida Aquarium, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the University of Florida. It comprises various facilities, including the Clean Energy Center, Coral Conservation Center, Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, Florida Youth Conservation Center, and Fish Hatchery.
Manatees have sought refuge in the warm water discharge canal of Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station since the early 1970s, particularly when Tampa Bay’s water temperature is 68 degrees or colder. The center not only offers manatee sightings but also features cownose rays in a touch tank, a nature trail, butterfly garden, manatee movie, 900-foot tidal walk, and a 50-foot observation tower.
The Manatee Viewing Center, located at 6990 Dickman Road, Apollo Beach, operates daily from Nov. 1 to April 15, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The facility also closes at 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Comfortable clothing and shoes are recommended due to extensive walking, and the boardwalks are ADA-compliant. Only trained service animals are allowed.
In the 2023-2024 season, the center was recognized as the No. 2 free attraction in the United States by USA Today’s 2023 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. With over 450,000 visitors last year and a cumulative seven million since its opening in December 1986, the Manatee Viewing Center remains a popular destination. Admission and parking are free, making it an ideal outdoor experience for families and friends. For more details, visit www.TampaElectric.com/Manatee or call 813-228-4289.
*Please note – Dans Florida Condos posts blogs of local
establishments and events periodically, for the intended benefit
of our guests and visitors of Anna Maria Island. We do not
receive advertisement commissions or other compensation from
these posts. These recommendations are either experienced
firsthand by us, or via reputable friends and partners on the
Island. This ensures we are informing our guests of the “best of
the best” that the Anna Maria Island and the surrounding areas
have to offer.