Homosassa has neither the Sunshine State's most popular beach nor its best-known cultural attractions; in fact, home to only a handful more than 12,000 residents Homosassa and its eponymous spring are easily altogether overlooked by Florida travelers. This, however, is an oversight, particularly for nature enthusiasts. Within the general are is Florida's second most visited state park and many areas with rich historic landmarks and wonderfully preserved buildings. Today, Homosassa has become a honey trap for seafood enthusiasts, anglers, and the retiring senior community, but there's more to it then that. Not to be missed on a trip to this west coast spot is a trip to Homosassa River and surrounding wetlands. It is in these areas that one can find the magnificent West Indian Manatee in its natural environment.
Archeological research shows pre-historic inhabitants first arrived in Homosassa and the surrounding vicinity nearly 14,000 years ago but it wasn't until the early 1840's that the town was colonized properly. It was in 1846 that a man by the name of David Levy Yulee (who would later become Florida's first state senator) established the Homosassa area by constructing a 5,100-acre plantation and sugar mill. Between 1846 and the early 1860's Homosassa would enjoy healthy growth and become a major supplier of sugar, syrup and molasses for the South. However the progressive development of the area would be short-lived, as the ensuing American Civil war would halt production, and eventually destroy Mr Yulee's plantation. Although Hormosassa's main plantation was destroyed in the midst of the Civil War, the foundation and structure of the city had already been set-in-stone, and would ultimately morph into what it is today.
For those searching for the best place to view a wild manatee in Florida, search no further than the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. It is here that you can get up close and personal with many different manatees in their natural habitat. Some park highlights include a floating observatory, and a viewing area where one can watch as veterinarians treat injured manatees, hoping to release them into the wild. Along with watching manatees, visitors also have the opportunity to see many other animals such as Black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, alligators and otters. The park is also home to one hippopotamus by the name of "Lucifer", who it just so happens is also famous for his many movie cameo appearances. Crystal River, a short ways north, is another likely spot to see manatees, particularly at Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Though boat tours are standard, it's also possible to arrange snorkelling and scuba diving trips into the refuge.
Homosassa is located on the west coast of central Florida, roughly 70 miles north of Tampa.