When you consider the whole package of what Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center offers – free parking and admission at an incredible local attraction that immerses you in natural Florida – is there a better place to be cold in the Tampa Bay area?
We could ask the manatees that are here by the dozens, frolicking in the clean, warm-water discharge canal of Big Bend Power Station that protects them from the frigid weather…but they seem busy socializing and enjoying themselves.
We could ask the more than 5 million visitors who have come to the center since it opened in 1986, but that’s a whole lot of people. (Though TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, offers some feedback.)
You might just have to come to the center in Apollo Beach, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, to see the magic for yourself. You’ll find the best thing about the Manatee Viewing Center might just be the fact that manatees are merely one part of what makes this environmental education facility so great. What about our rays touch tank, or our nature trails, or our observation tower, or our education building, or our butterfly gardens (and what about everything else)?
Incidentally, what exactly is the definition of “cold” in West Central Florida? For the manatees, it’s water temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or below. At that point, they converge on the Manatee Viewing Center, sometimes by the hundreds. (Come to think of it, 68 degrees Fahrenheit probably qualifies as cold for the local human population too.)
The holidays may be over, but the Manatee Viewing Center is a gift that keeps giving – as in giving people of all ages from around the world a unique opportunity to connect with nature. As in instilling children with knowledge about how to protect Florida and its precious habitats. As in giving manatees a place to be safe from the cold.
This weekend, and through April 15, consider bundling up as appropriate and joining the fun in Apollo Beach. Stop in for some hot cocoa at our South Shore Café. And bask in the warmth of the smiles you’ll find at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, a place like no other that’s just waiting for you – and the manatees are too.