This is probably one of the best state parks in Florida!
I had visited this park 15-20 years ago when I lived 3 hours away. Now that I live a little over an hour I had not visited this park. So one day in December when I was off I decided to just break down and take the family for a day trip. What a day trip it was.
First off, there are two parking areas for the park. One is across the street from the park while the other is on a main road and is a 3/4 mile hike or tram ride away. I did not find the remote parking area, but instead found the close parking area. There were plenty of spaces and it was a simply walk across the street to get to the park. Second item, if you are a AAA member you will get a 20% discount so remember to take your card.
This park is truly lovely it has an amazing collection of animals with the convenience of boardwalks. The honorary hippo Florida citizen is one of the first things you see and is always a delight. There is a lovely array of animals including foxes, bald eagles, and bears oh my.
The park is actually really well maintained it is pretty accessible in most respects. There are quarter food machines so if you would like to feed the birds make sure to bring some quarters with you. My favorite place in the park was the aviary where I got to stare down an Osprey. Additionally, the number of birds that are being cared for and are flightless (two of the Bald Eagles had clear damage to one wing) make for an amazing sight.
This park has so many different animals it is hard for me to remember them all. The otters were a blast to watch, basically played the time I watched them. Then there was the herp area, deers, manatees, etc. The under water viewing area provided an excellent view of the under water wildlife.
At the end of the day this park provides an excellent getaway in beautiful central Florida. My recommendation to you is to try to visit over a 4 hour period. When we got there around 12:30 there were certain animals that were not out such as the bear and cougar, but the otters were at play. While at 4 PM the bear and cougar were out and the otters were no where to be seen.
The concession stand is in the entry building and provides a good place to have lunch or a snack, a little over priced for the venue and quality but I would stop there again. The meal price for three people was $27 which included a wrap, pizza, chicken tenders, soft pretzel, chips, and soda.
Park staff are friendly and attentive and seem to care about the park. All-in-all this is a great place to visit. Thank you to the director, dedicated staff, and volunteers that make this a great place to visit.
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