Our Second Visit to TECO's Manatee Viewing Center

By Published On: January 9th, 2023

Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach – Free

Published on 01/09/23: The Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach! Hope everyone had a nice break. Does anyone have a case of the Mondays after the holidays and school hiatus? [Mike raises hand] Back to the grind for our family, with multiple jobs, school, and sports schedule. The good news is, it actually felt like a very long break, with public schools just returning today. 📚

Those following my LovingStPete “stories” know we had quite the adventure in Alta Utah, with 60+ inches of new snow during our visit. Crazy! Lots of skiing and fun to watch Colt move up two levels in ski school. Downside was that I returned under the weather. Red-eye flight and then a full slate of home showings that afternoon with great clients. No complaints at all on that front, giving me some natural Vitamin D when I needed it most. I’m convinced, touring around our tropical paradise is a recipe for mental and physical wellness. 🏝

Visit the Manatee Viewing Center on a Cold Day

Speaking of sunshine, what an incredible weekend of weather around Tampa Bay. Colt and I used the opportunity to visit TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach! While I posted about it a year ago, we have more tips. Before I summarize those, the best time to tackle this adventure is on a “cold” day. Florida cold. Under 65 degrees typically works fine, as the manatees seek the “warm clean water as it exits the Big Bend Power Station”. This area has become a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary, a peaceful place for them to relax.

Address: 6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach

Phone: 813-228-4289

Google Reviews: 6800+ reviews with a 4.7/5 avg

Dates: Nov 1 – Apr 15 from 10AM-5PM. Nature Trail & Observation Tower close at 4 PM

Cost: Free parking and free admission!

Wheelchair accessible: ADA Compliant

More Details and Tips for the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach

There are multiple boardwalks, providing several options for manatee viewing. On our prior trip, we only noticed the short pathway near the Rays touch tank and gift shop. While we saw many manatees on that visit, we saw zero from this particular area on Saturday. After the 50 minute drive, I had visions of Chevy Chase’s confrontation with Marty Moose. Just kidding. Colt and I wandered a bit and fortunately found the 900 foot walkway (tidal walk) that’s also part of the “Great Florida Birding Trail”. Not sure how we missed this great path last time! This ADA complaint walkway leads you through a tunnel of mangroves and then toward the end is where we saw many manatees! Hallelujah.

Manatee Viewing Center Parking

The main parking lot has been full on both of our visits, though the ‘overflow lot’ was available both times. There’s a nice nature walk from the overflow parking to the main building & viewing area. Sights and sounds along the way, plus a building with activities for the kids to test their knowledge, and even generate energy. If the walk from the overflow parking isn’t possible, simply wait for the small shuttle.

✔️Bring polarized glasses if you have them.

✔️Find the 50 foot high observation tower along the trails.

✔️Visit the education center and gift shop.

✔️Check out the Rays Touch Tank! These are the Rays from Tropicana Field, enjoying their offseason at the Manatee Viewing Center.

✔️Food options include hot dogs, corn dogs, nachos, quesadillas and much more.

✔️ Whether you bring snacks or buy them, make sure to find the 10+ picnic shaded tables under the gift shop.

Post brought to you by the LovingStPete Team at HB Realty. We give back up to $10K at closing when you use our team to buy or sell a property. If you’ve been considering buying or selling, I’d love an opportunity to discuss what we can do for you!

Credit to first 📸 from Manatee Viewing Center on Facebook, the rest are my own.

I’m a local St Petersburg Realtor, with over 26K people following my LovingStPete Guide on Social Media. You’ll receive up to $10K at closing when you use my LovingStPete Team to buy or sell a property! My past includes developing a vacation rental advertising business that I ran for more than a decade, then sold to HomeAway/VRBO. I’d love to help you buy or sell a property, simply contact me.

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Written by : St Petersburg Realtor, Mike Braswell

Mike Braswell is a Tampa Bay Realtor, serving St Petersburg, Clearwater, all nearby beaches and more. Mike started LovingStPete in October of 2020 after a difficult year took its toll on local businesses. After being cooped up for portions of 2020 (lockdown) Mike and his son decided to get out and explore, helping spread the good word about the local area he loves so much. Often even doing gift card giveaways to support local. LovingStPete is now followed by over 48 thousand people on social media! The majority of posts are informative on fun parks, activities, day trips, great restaurants, and in general provide a comprehensive tour of the area!

Soon after receiving his bachelors in Management Information Systems, Mike developed and then operated a vacation rental advertising business for 10+ years as CEO/Owner. The business was eventually acquired by VRBO. Mike has earned the trust of many large clients over the years. Such as NFL, Wynn Resorts, Blue Cross Blue Shield, VISA, Genuine Parts Company (NAPA Auto Parts), AT&T, and other Fortune 500 companies.

When not spending time with his beautiful wife and energetic son, Mike enjoys boating and is also an avid tennis player. An interesting fact about Mike is that he grew up on an avocado farm with over 15 varieties, some of which you can find in our local Publix/Winn Dixie as his dad still farms the same farm at 87 years old!

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