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Walking Club: Exploring the Manatee Viewing Center Trails

Walking Club: Exploring the Manatee Viewing Center Trails
Posted at 10:10 AM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 08:20:56-05

Many of us are looking for ways to remain active while also staying a safe distance away from others. That's why Sarah Phinney started 'Sarah's Walking Club’ to highlight some hidden, and some not so hidden, trails and parks across Tampa Bay.

Manatees huddling for warmth draws visitors to Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center, but there’s much more to see than just adorable sea cows. Hike the trails to get a better sense of the area and enjoy views atop the 50 foot observation tower.

Where is it?

The Manatee Viewing Center can be found at:

6990 Dickman Rd.
Apollo Beach, FL 33572

Parking and entry is free. If the main lot is full, there is an overflow lot farther south on Dickman Road.

What is there to do?

Many people visit the Manatee Viewing Center to see the manatees gathering in the power station’s discharge canal in an effort to stay warm during the winter. Be sure to bring your binoculars and camera to catch them coming up for air.

The rays touch tank is another big draw. According to Tampa Electric’s website, it’s actually the off-season home of the mascots of the Tampa Bay Rays.

But, there’s more to see than just sea creatures. There are miles of trails worth exploring with your family.

“We have quite a few trails are looped so you can go around in a circle or you can go out to our tower,” said Jamie Woodlee, Senior Environmental Technician. “You definitely have to go for a walk.”

There are no dogs and no bikes allowed on the trails.

In addition to the 50 foot observation tower, check out the new Clean Energy Center.

“People can come in and get in on the kiosk and play different games and learn different information about up and coming type of energy,” said Woodlee.

The Manatee Viewing Center is on the Hillsborough County Hiking Spree this year. Check out this map to see which trail you have to walk to check it off your list.

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When should I visit?

The Manatee Viewing Center is open from November 1st through April 15th from 10 am to 5 pm. The nature trails and observation tower close at 4 pm.

Join Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming Walking Club stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter