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9 of the Best Places to See Manatees in Florida

Are you looking for the best places to see manatees in Florida? These are the best places in Florida to spot these gorgeous animals!

Whether you call them sea cows or sea mermaids, manatees are adorable, loveable creatures and they are quite the sight to behold.

These sweet-tempered marine mammals are endangered, so it is quite difficult to catch them just swimming about. However, Florida is one of the best places to see these little bundles of joy, as they tend to swim into Florida’s rivers looking for food and warm water. Here are the best places to see manatees in Florida!

Best Places to See Manatees

Homosassa Springs State Park

First on my list of the best places to see manatees in Florida, it’s Homosassa Springs State Park!

Homosassa Springs State Park gives you both an access to a boat ride up Pepper Creek to its Wildlife Park. From here, you can see deer, wolves, otters, alligators, and the famous manatees who flock to this area during the cold winter months!

This park is home to an underwater observatory where you can find unparalleled views of the manatees and the in-park rangers offer great information on the lovely sea cows! This is a great place to see manatees in Florida!

Best Places to See Manatees in Florida usa

Blue Springs State Park

Next on my list of the best places to see manatees in Florida, it’s Blue Springs State Park! Swimming and boating are prohibited in this area during the winter, so it’s a great place to catch the manatees that are foraging for food and looking to sleep.

There are plenty of overlooks and boardwalks here, so you can explore the park whilst manatee-spotting if you wish to. If you can’t make it down to the manatees during the colder months, you can actually catch these beauties via a live manatee webcam! Yeah, you heard that right…

Best Places to See Manatees in Florida state

TECO Manatee Viewing Center

TECO is the nest suggestion for the best places to see manatees in Florida! Tampa’s Manatee Viewing Center is a dedicated manatee sanctuary to which large numbers of manatees flock annually. Viewing platforms and walkways are well-placed here and there is also an environmental center located on this massive facility. 

Lee County Manatee Park

Fort Myers’ Manatee Park is another wintertime classic spot where large concentrations of manatees can be seen, so it’s a great choice for the best places to see manatees in Florida. From November to March, you’re sure to see great swathes of manatees making their way to Fort Myers for its lovely warm waters.

This is a particularly good place to see the manatees up close, and with a range of guided walks and fun activities on offer, it’s a fabulous day out. 

list of Best Places to See Manatees in Florida

Manatee Lagoon

The Manatee Lagoon is my next suggestion for the best places to see manatees in Florida. Located in Riviera Beach, this lagoon is a free educational attraction with a dedicated area for viewing the manatees up close.

The waterfront center features hands-on exhibits for guests and teaches them about the importance of these threatened sea cows. On cold days, the observation deck is the perfect place to see manatees basking in the warm waters!

Lovers Key State Park

The nest suggestion for the best places to see manatees in Florida, is Lovers Key State Park. An awesome place for manatee spotting due to less-crowded nature, it’s the perfect place to get up close and personal. You can even kayak here whilst manatee-spotting, so it’s great for those adventurers amongst you!

Merritt Island

A great place to spot manatees year-round, Merritt Island is a great place to see Manatees in Florida. This national refuge for wildlife is actually thanks to NASA! They purchased the land to build the Kennedy Space Center and used this leftover land to create a wildlife preserve. Over time, all kinds of wildlife have settled here, so you’ll spot more than just manatees at this one! This is a great place to see manatees in Florida!

Best Places to See Manatees in Florida

Manatee Springs State Park

About an hour’s drive from Gainesville, Manatee Springs State Park is my next suggestion for the best places to see manatees in Florida. It sure lives up to its name.

A warm refuge for manatees in the winter months, you’ll see plenty of hefty mermaids here! You can either spend the day manatee spotting or grab a canoe or a kayak and hit the waters. With hiking trails, a children’s playground and BBQ sets, this particular spot is a great family day out.

Three Sisters Springs

Last on my list of the best places to see manatees in Florida, it’s Three Sisters Springs.

A year-round favourite for manatee spotting, Three Sisters Springs is an amazing place to go. With more than 100 manatees being visible at one time, it’s probably the most highly concentrated manatee hangout around. You’re best viewing the manatees from the boardwalk, as you’ll understand that with such a high concentration of manatees, there’s a high concentration of visitors too.

the Best Places to See Manatees in Florida

Scenic Miami to Key West road trip itinerary

Are you planning a Miami to Key West road trip? Maybe you need some itinerary inspiration to help you plan your journey? Look no further!

If you’re planning a Miami to Key West road trip, you couldn’t have picked a better route. Close your eyes and imagine a road. A thin stop of highway cutting through turquoise ocean, skipping bridges under a high blue sky void of clouds, and the sun a pinnacle of white light hovering at the apex of the sky. The Miami to Key West road trip itinerary is so scenic – we know you’re going to love it.

The road from Miami to Key West is 165 miles long, and if you drove straight there it’d take you a little under 3.5 hours.

But where’s the fun in that?

We’ve made you a little itinerary for a Miami to Key West road trip that takes 2 days and allows you to see some of the gorgeous sights that Florida has to offer! This Miami to Key West road trip itinerary will show you places to stop off, places to enjoy, amazing views, the works.

The trick to doing a Miami to Key West road trip right is that if you see something you want to stop and have a look at, stop the car. Get out, walk around, soak up the views, and talk to people. That’s the best part of the road trip, it really is! The fun of a road trip is enjoying every second, taking your time and exploring at your own pace – hopefully this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary will help you do that!

scenic Miami to Key West road trip itinerary

Day 1: Time to get driving!

Ok, the first part of this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary, is breakfast! We’ll start with Breakfast in Miami – to fuel up before the big trip. I recommend breakfast at Green Street Cafe.

It’ll set you up for a long day of driving and exploring, and you definitely won’t regret filling up on their amazing American breakfasts! Stop by at a supermarket on your way out of Miami to pick up a picnic for lunch.

After that, get onto US1 the highway that leads you from Miami down to Key West, this is the first day of your Miami to Key West road trip – and it’s time to get excited!

Day 1: Stop off 1: Everglades National Park

On your way out of Miami stop at this gorgeous national forest. The Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the USA, and the largest wilderness of any kind east of the Mississippi, so it only seemed right to include it in this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary. It’s a a protected site in order to preserve the fragile ecosystem that the trees support. You’re going to spend most of your morning here, and you can eat your picnic in the shade of these gorgeous trees. 

Back on the road for US1. This is where you’re going get your first glimpse of “ocean highway” cutting through the water like rainbow road on MarioKart.

Miami to Key West road trip

Day 1: Stop off 2: Key Largo

Famous mostly because of Humphrey Bogart, a golden age movie star, and the movie of the same name, Key Largo is a gorgeous place to stop for the afternoon (or a couple of days if you’re doing this road trip at a super slow rate). This is the next stop on my Miami to Key West road trip itinerary.

Stop a little before you get to Key Largo for John Oennekamp coral reef state park. It’s home to North America’s only Coral reef and is a great place for scuba diving and snorkelling if that’s your jam. There’s also spiegeleisen grove ship wreck to scuba at which is quite a sight to see too!

Dinner: eat at the Fish House. It’s a must stop place on this road trip and the food is fresh as anything. The conch salad and the mahi mahi are amazing choices! 

Miami to Key West road trip ideas

Day 1: Stop off 3: Plantation Key

You can choose to stay at Key Largo overnight if you like, or you could hit foot it over a little further and stay at Plantation Key. You can watch the sunset from the beach and bar at mile marker 88, with a cocktail in one hand! 

And that’s the end of day 1 of your Miami to Key West road trip itinerary. Sit back, enjoy the scenery and the sunset, and get ready for Day 2 of the Miami to Key West road trip, tomorrow!

Now it’s time for Day 2!

On day 2 of your road trip from Miami to Key West, it’s worth a little double back on yourself for breakfast in Tavernier at Over Easy – which is a classic little breakfast place and perfect for getting lots of energy for the day. It’s only about 20 minutes back up the road, but it’s 100% worth the trip! 

Day 2: Stop off 1: Marathon 

Next stop on my Miami to Key West road trip itinerary it’s Marathon. Here you’ll find the Dolphin research centre and the turtle hospital! There’s honestly kids to do in Marathon from shopping to cultural keys museums. We’d recommend dipping your toes in the water at tranquility bay – it’s necessary for stripping all the stress from your bones! 

Get lunch at King Seafood Market and Restaurant. With fresh fish, and Cuba flavours, this restaurant is not to be missed on your road trip from Miami to Key West! 

Miami to Key West road trip itinerary ideas

Day 2: Stop off 2: The seven mile bridge

And of course, one of the final stretches before reaching Key West on this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary, it’s the amazing Seven Mile Bridge.

This iconic feat of architecture is HEAVENLY, and will make your insta look fire 🔥 in some spots it’s so long and so straight that you can’t see the end of it. The Seven Mile Bridge is one of those ‘you have to see it to believe it’ places on earth, and luckily it’s a key part of the Miami to Key West road trip.

It looks like a road to nowhere, or a road to everywhere, and is one of the most poetic and beautiful sights to be seen in the belting Miami sunshine.

Stop your car after the bridge at pigeon Key foundation to take pictures and to walk along an old section of the bridge that used to be a railway and is now pedestrianised. 

the best Miami to Key West road trip itinerary

Day 2: Stop off 3: Bahia Honda State Park

Located in the middle of the Seven Mile Bridge, the beautiful Bahia Honda State Park, is a must-see and definitely worth stopping off at! The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year, and costs $8 per vehicle to enter. It’s a beautiful place to stop off and enjoy the incredible views, as well as do a bit of bird watching, nature spotting, and just staring off dreamily into the incredible views.

Definitely worth squeezing into your Miami to Key West road trip itinerary if you can!

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Day 2: Stop off 4: Square Grouper Bar and Grill

If you’re feeling hungry by this stage, there’s a fantastically reviewed restaurant called ‘Square Grouper Bar and Grill’ to stop off at before reaching Key West. This is a fab little place full of delicious option for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Get to Key West in the evening and you’ve made it!

Settle in for however long you’re staying! Literally almost all restaurants in Key West will do you for amazing places to eat, and you cant go wrong with most of the hotels. Our top recommendation is the Marquesa Hotel. It’s a gorgeous place to stay and the in-house restaurant Cafe Marquesa serves up award winning, life ruining food. You’ll never want to eat anything else ever again. 

how to go from miami to key west

Hopefully this Miami to Key West road trip itinerary has been helpful and given you lots of inspiration!

Remember – you don’t need to make all the stops I’ve suggested here, and likewise, you don’t need to limit your Miami to Key West road trip itinerary, to only the stops I’ve suggested. If you see something along the way you want to take a closer look at – go for it! The best things about the Miami to Key West road trip is how much there is to see!