On our way down south we passed three main highlights I want to share with you.
1.) Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Homosassa is a lovely park with lots of local wildlife (and one not so local one, but we will talk about that later ). The animals you find in the park all found shelter there after having been wounded or otherwise disturbed by humans. You can enter the park via boat (included in the entrance fee) or trolley or your own car. We chose the boat tour.
There are many animals in the park but these guys were my favorites:
Bald Eagles in front of the American flag (yep, they really put up the Stars and Stripes in the enclosure! )
A baby puma, only a few months old, that was purring the whole time! Too cute!
Bob cats. I’ve never seen these guys in real life before. Beautiful.
One of my all time favorites: Otters!
And of course they have alligators. Big and small ones. I liked this little feller a lot:
In the Homosassa River, which is partly included within the park boundaries, you find an underwater observatory. It’s right above the spring. Sometimes you can see Manatees from down there, which we didn’t. But the hundreds of fish we observed were pretty amazing, too.
There is only one animal which is not native to Florida in the park: Lu, short for Lucifer, the hippo.
Lu is the only animal to be declared an official citizen of Florida. This happened in 1991 after the park had changed hands from a privately owned enterprise to the state in 1989. Lu didn’t fit in the all-Florida wildlife theme and officials looked for a new home for him. However, residents stood up for Lu and finally Governor Lawton Chiles gave in – and issued his “honorary citizen” edict.
Oh, by the way: Merry Christmas from Homosassa!
2.) Sanibel Island
The second stop on our drive down south was Sanibel Island. Sanibel is located close to Fort Myers in the Gulf of Mexico and you can reach it from the mainland via Sanibel Causeway.
With all it’s white beaches it makes an awesome holiday destination.
The most interesting beach though is Bowman’s Beach because you find thousands and thousands of shells there. Even the really big ones when you’re really lucky.
We also made a brief stop in Naples. Naples is nestled on the Gulf of Mexico and by the way one of the wealthiest cities in the US. You can feel this when you walk down the main shopping street, 5th Avenue.
The only thing we could afford there was ice cream Try Regina’s Ice Cream Pavilion when you’re in town. Great selection of flavors and a lovely 60s-inspired interior decoration.
We’re now close to Everglades National Park and will be exploring this area the next few days. So stay tuned for some alligators!
More information about:
Lu on Facebook (seriously!! )