Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center#8 in Best Things To Do in Tampa
Price & Hours
Tampa is a city made for animal lovers willing to pay the price for cuddly, unique and cute. Science centers, zoos and aquariums that don't charge at least a little something for you to enter are few and far between. Which is why Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center is so special. Vacationers appreciate a little break in their itineraries to see manatees swimming through the Tampa Electric water plant, and they don't have to pay an arm and a leg for the privilege. In fact, you won't have to pay anything at all. At the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach, manatees seek refuge in the power station's discharge panel, where clean, warm Tampa Bay saltwater flows. When the bay gets too chilly for the manatees, they retreat to this space for warmth.
When your eyes aren't on the water, turn your attention to the center's other attractions, including a mangrove exhibit, a butterfly garden and a gift shop. You can also get a bird's-eye view of the area by climbing up the stairs to the 50-foot viewing tower, located halfway down the Manatee Viewing Center's habitat loop trail.
Recent visitors provided generally favorable reviews for the center, but do note that it's a bit of a drive from downtown Tampa (about 25 miles south). Travelers also warned that it can get a bit chilly by the water, especially in the winter (the optimal viewing months), so dress warmly. You can visit from Nov. 1 through April 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Access is free. Visit the center's website for further details.
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#1 Tampa Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is a 2.6-mile-long trail which runs along the Hillsborough River in Tampa. Visitors can walk, bike, rollerblade, enjoy public art and access any number of restaurants, stores, parks and playgrounds, bike rental shops and attractions, such as the Florida Aquarium and the Glazer Children's Museum, along the route.
Recent visitors were impressed by how well-maintained and clean the park is and noted that it's an ideal place to catch the sunset. You can access the Riverwalk from any number of places along the river. Visit the Friends of the Riverwalk website for more information and maps.
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