You don’t always have to go far to show a baby something she’s never seen before. Yesterday we made a little day trip from Tampa to Homosassa Springs State Park to show Lisa some wildlife. She had a blast and we got some really cute pictures.

The Animals

We’d been to the park before, so we knew what to expect. Alligators, big cats, birds, canines and manatees all call the park home. And all the animals are Florida natives, with the exception of one really big Hippopotamus, who was grandfathered in when it switched from a zoo to a state park. Our favorite thing about Homosassa Springs is that unlike many zoos, most of the animals are rescued or recovering, so we don’t feel sorry for them while we visit.

The Park

The park is built around the Homosassa Springs, which pump out millions of gallons of water every hour. It’s the constant temperature of the spring water that makes it ideal for manatees, especially in the winter when the oceans cool off (that’s the best time to visit the park by the way). Even though there’s a lot to see, it’s not a huge place and you could probably walk all the paths in less than an hour if you never stopped to look at anything.

The best way to enter the park is through the main entrance. That’s because you get to take a boat up the river (free) to the wildlife area. You can spot turtles and fish in the water while volunteers tell you about the park, the river, and all the things you can expect to see. It’s a really great experience, and you shouldn’t miss it. The other entrance on the western side of the park has a cafe (overpriced) and a tram that can take you back to the main gate.

We didn’t really focus very much on photography during this visit – it was all about showing Lisa a good time. We probably should have waited until it cooled off a little more in the fall, but we didn’t really want to wait, especially since we’re going to be busy traveling and photographing weddings in the fall and winter. Luckily, just as we were getting overheated Dannie saw an ice cream vendor. We went back and found a shady spot to cool off. As much as we’ve enjoyed this place in the past, it was a whole new experience with baby Lisa – a little more exciting and a little more magical. I don’t think we’ll ever run out of first time experiences, as long as we keep looking!