Homosassa Springs is a small town about 15 minutes south of Crystal River, and it is largely unremarkable except for the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (4150 Suncoast Blvd., 352/628-5343, www.floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings, 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily, ticket counter for boat rides 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.). Unlike many other natural state parks, the facilities got their start as a full-fledged tourist attraction; Nature’s Giant Fish Bowl opened in the 1940s, giving visitors a look at the vast underwater ecosystem.
The park went through several owners and incarnations before being bought in 1984 by Citrus County and then turned into a state wildlife park in 1989. Although the environmental and ecological aspects of the park are amplified these days, the big draw is still the opportunity to catch a glimpse of fish, turtles, birds, and manatees in and around the 45-foot-deep spring.
Boats depart regularly from the visitors center to viewing areas, and while the experience at Homosassa Springs feels more like a zoo visit than a nature excursion, this giant fish bowl still thrills.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition