The best places to see wild manatees in Florida

Seriously, who doesn't love manatees?

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Created by David Stacy - March 11th 2017

Sea cows. Mermaids. Gentle giants. Whatever adorable name you call 'em, there's no denying that manatees are quite possibly the most lovable creatures on Earth-- just above sloths and red pandas (in my book, anyways). Sadly, though, these beautiful, sweet-tempered marine mammals are an endangered species; pollution, dangerous motor boats, and the loss of their habitat is taking a toll on the manatee population. Thankfully, humans have taken an interest in saving the sea cows-- and you will too, once you see them and how cute they are in their natural habitat! Florida is known for its populations of manatees, which swim into the rivers looking for food and warmer waters, especially in the fall, winter and spring. Here are some of the best spots to spot a manatee!

Photo of Blue Spring State Park

2100 W French Ave., Orange City, FL, US

Blue Spring State Park

Like at Three Sisters, swimming and boating are prohibited during the winter at Blue Spring State Park so that the hoardes of manatees and forage for sea grass and sleep in peace-- did you know that manatees can spend up to 50% of their day snoozing? When it isn't manatee season, guests are welcome to swim and snorkel in the springs. If you can't make it down to see the manatees during the winter, they offer a wild manatee webcam; it's pretty mesmerizing and relaxing!

Photo of Alexander Springs

49525 CR 445, Altoona, FL, US

Alexander Springs

The best time to see a manatee is the winter, but you might still be lucky enough to spot one in the spring. Keep in mind that most springs and rivers close to swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers, and sometimes canoers and kayakers, so that the manatees can warm up in the springs in peace, so if you're looking to fully experience the springs for yourself rather than spot a manatee, spring and summer are better bets.