If you love to see wildlife as you explore Florida State Parks Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is the park for you! With a chance to see hippos, flamingo’s, Florida panthers, manatees, and more all in one spot this park is not a traditional zoo experience, but it comes with plenty of opportunity to see wildlife.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – The Basics
- Address: 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa, FL 34446 (Main entrance)
- Driving distance from select Florida cities:
- Tampa/St. Petersburg: 1.5 hours
- Orlando: ~1.5 hours
- Gainesville: ~1.5 hours
- Jacksonville: ~3 hours
- Hours: 9 AM to 5:30 PM
- Ticket counter closes at 4:45 PM
- Entrance fee:
- Adults (age 13+ years): $13
- Children (6-12 years): $5
- Children (5 and under: Free
- Activities: Hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking
- Pet Friendly: No
Tips for visiting Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Visit on a cold day for the best chance to see manatee
While there are some manatees that stay in the wildlife park year-round that are unable to survive in the wild, during the winter months wild manatee will seek the warm spring water on the cooler days. I arrived to the park a little after 9 AM and it was around 50⁰F. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the springs to see several manatee swimming in the water!
Take the time to read the signs at each display
The park provides information on why each animal calls the wildlife state park home. This is usually due to some type of injury and sadly, sometimes this is due to human actions. The park also includes information on what you can do to help protect animals so they can safely remain in the wild
Park at the main entrance and walk the Pepper Creek Birding Trail
There are two entrances to the park which confused me when I was first researching the park. When I searched in Google Maps each entrance came up as a slightly different park name, but it is all part of the same park.
- Main entrance: 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa, FL 34446
- When I search “Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park” in google maps it is the main entrance
- The main entrance has plenty of parking including overflow parking. You have a few different options to get to the park from here.
- Tram tour: Ride the tram to the wildlife park entrance
- Boat tour: Currently closed
- Walk: This is what I recommend! I didn’t have to wait for the tram to come, and it didn’t pass me either direction while I was walking. The Pepper Creek Birding Trail is a short 0.75-mile paved trail. You can access this trail by heading across the parking lot towards the picnic pavilion with a white roof. There is a small sign marking the trailhead.
- West Entrance: 9350 W Fishbowl Dr. Homosassa, FL 34448
- When I search “Ellie Schiller Homosassa Wildlife State Park” in google maps it is the west entrance
- This is where the entrance to the wildlife park is, but there is less parking than the main entrance if the park is crowded
- The Pepper Creek Trail will take you directly to the west entrance or the tram will drop you off here
Talk to the park rangers
There were a lot of park rangers throughout the park and they are very knowledgeable about the animals! Don’t hesitate to ask them any questions you have. They also have some special programs throughout the day.
What kind of animals can I expect to see at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park?
There is a variety of wildlife to see within the park while you are completing the wildlife walk. The trail is paved or boardwalks and is just over 1-mile to complete.
Some of the animals you can expect to see are listed below, but this is not a complete list of the wildlife at the park.
- Fox and deer
- Many birds including pelican, flamingos, owls, and more
- Bald eagle
- Hippopotamus – Lu seems to be a park fan favorite!
- Florida panthers and bobcats
- Black bear
- River otter
- Reptiles – don’t miss the reptile house
When you view the manatee be sure to stop by the manatee care center. The rangers host educational programs and bring the manatee in for feeding multiple times a day.
What else is there to do at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
- Garden of the Springs – check out the flowers, relax on a park bench, or take in the view of the Homosassa River
- Discovery Center – learn more about the park’s history and find some educational activities for kids
- Restrooms are also available in the discovery center
- West Side Cafe – grab a quick bite to eat before or after you explore the park
- Located inside the west entrance visitor center
- Underwater Observatory – this cannot be missed; it was one of my favorite parts of the park; take in the views of the springs from below by descending the steps at the underwater observatory
Final Thoughts on Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
This was such a fun state park to explore and much better than your typical zoo experience in my opinion. This is also a state park I felt very safe exploring solo, but it is also family friendly! If you enjoy seeing wildlife you must add Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to your state park wish list!
While you are in the area be sure to stop by Yulee Sugar Mill Historic Ruins State Park. It is located only 5 minutes away, read my park recap here.
The information above was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park I recommend verifying information with the Florida State Park website here.