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Manatee Park picture in Fort Myers
Ai Angel Gentel / Getty Images

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  • Zoos and Aquariums Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.0
Overall
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  • Value
    4.5
  • Facilities
    3.5
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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It's best to stop by Manatee Park, a refuge for Florida manatees, during the winter season (between December and February). During the colder months, the animals flock to warm pockets of water to escape chilly temperatures. Since the park is directly on the warm water discharge canal of the Florida Power & Light company, it's a popular spot for these gentle creatures. There are a handful of observation decks to see the animals up close, but you can also hop into a kayak and paddle out to spot them. You probably won't see manatees if you visit in summer, but you can enjoy the park's 16 acres in kayaks or on guided tours. Recent visitors to the park say when its cool out (and with a little patience) you can see upwards of 50 manatees at the park. 

General admission to the park is free, but there is a small fee for parking ($5 a day, year-round). Kayak rentals and concessions are available from December to March from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the rest of the year concessions are closed and kayak rental is by reservation only. After catching a glimpse of the manatees, you can also explore the extensive on-site butterfly garden. You can check the website to see if manatees are present at the park on any given day. 

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
Hyatt Place Fort Myers/At The Forum

Hyatt Place Fort Myers/At The Forum ...

  • 4.5 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
Value Place Ft. Myers, FL (East)

Value Place Ft. Myers, FL (East) ...

  • 1.4 Miles Away
  • 2.5-star Hotel Class
Comfort Inn Ft Myers

Comfort Inn Ft Myers ...

  • 1.3 Miles Away
  • 2.5-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in Fort Myers »

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#1 J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Named after a political cartoonist and conservationist, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge occupies 8,000 acres of land on Sanibel Island, located southwest of Fort Myer's ... Read more » D E N N I S A X E R photography / Getty Images

#2 Edison and Ford Winter Estates The Edison and Ford Winter Estates are home base for history buffs who visit the area. The two American innovators – Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb and ... Read more » Courtesy Edison & Ford Winter Estates

#3 Manatee Park It's best to stop by Manatee Park, a refuge for Florida manatees, during the winter season (between December and February). During the colder months, the animals flock to warm ... Read more » Ai Angel Gentel / Getty Images

#4 Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium You'll see a wide range of animals native to Florida at the Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, including bald eagles, alligators, hawks and owls. There are also daily shows ... Read more » RHZ / Getty Images

#5 Spring Training Although the nearest major league baseball teams are in Tampa and Miami, those visiting Fort Myers still see big league action in the form of spring training. Every March, the ... Read more » Courtesy Florida Sports Foundation

#6 IMAG History & Science Center Future scientists and engineers (and their families) come to the IMAG History & Science Center to explore topics, such as earth and space science, Florida history, technology, marine animals,  ... Read more » Courtesy IMAG History & Science Center

J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge picture in Fort Myers
Edison and Ford Winter Estates picture in Fort Myers
Manatee Park picture in Fort Myers
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium picture in Fort Myers
Spring Training picture in Fort Myers
IMAG History & Science Center picture in Fort Myers
J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge picture in Fort Myers
Edison and Ford Winter Estates picture in Fort Myers
Manatee Park picture in Fort Myers
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium picture in Fort Myers
Spring Training picture in Fort Myers
IMAG History & Science Center picture in Fort Myers

If you want to catch the maximum amount of wildlife at the refuge, visit from November to April during low tide.  D E N N I S A X E R photography / Getty Images

The estates encompass 20 acres of homes, gardens, a laboratory and a museum to explore.  Courtesy Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Manatee Park is a noncaptive warm water refuge for the sea cows that inhabit southern Florida's waters. Your best chance to spot them is during the winter months.  Ai Angel Gentel / Getty Images

One of the many opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors, the Calusa Nature Center is unique in that it includes an on-site planetarium.  RHZ / Getty Images

Both the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox call Fort Myers home during spring training Courtesy Florida Sports Foundation

The IMAG History & Science Center caters to families with young children thanks to its variety of interactive exhibits. Courtesy IMAG History & Science Center

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