Florida’s mild winters often include daytime temperatures in the 70s, but when temperature drops overnight, manatees seek shelter in warmer waters. Manatees flock to Florida’s springs from November to March. On cool mornings, you can usually see hundreds of them gathering in Blue Spring near Orange City.

Save The Manatee Club recently counted more than 300 manatees at Blue Spring, with numbers sometimes soaring above 400. Here are some places in Florida where you can witness these majestic creatures in the wild. 

Blue Spring State Park
This state park in Orange is a prime location to view manatees when the weather cools down. From November through March, Blue Spring run is closed to human visitors for swimming and non-motorized boating, but guests can view manatees from the state park’s boardwalk. Both Blue Spring and Save The Manatee Club work together to solidify a daily manatee count, which you can see on savethemanatee.org. The club also offers manatee webcams.

Cost: $6 per vehicle
Address: 2100 W French Ave. in Orange City
More information: floridastateparks.org

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
During the cooler months, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place for manatees to congregate. The refuge offers a manatee observation deck on the East Side of Courtenay Parkway. Manatees also gather near the Bairs Cove Boat Ramp.

Address: Courtenay Parkway in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
More information: merrittislandwildlifeassociation.org

Crystal River
Crystal River and Citrus County are the “Manatee Capital of the World”. Back in 2015, over 1,000 manatees were found in Citrus County. Various tour groups in Crystal River even offer visitors the chance to swim with manatees.

Cost: $20 per adult from November to March 
Address: 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail in Crystal River
More information: discovercrystalriverfl.com

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
South of Crystal River, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park offers an inside look at alligators, black bears, red wolf, and an old hippopotamus. Their underwater observatory allows guests to see fish and manatees swimming. Manatee feedings occur three times daily. 

Cost: $13 per adult, $5 per child (ages 6-12)
Address: 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. in Homosassa
More information: floridastateparks.org

Lee County Manatee Park
This park provides a magnified view of Florida manatees. Lee County suggests visiting from December through February, when the Gulf temperature drops.

Cost: $2 per hour or $5 per day for parking
Address: 10901 Palm Beach Blvd. in Fort Myers
More information: leegov.com or manateekayakingcompany.com