Your journey through the park begins in a visitors’ center which provides background about the park and a gift shop. Once you pass through the admissions gate, you are led down the stairs and out to a pontoon docking station. A park ranger helps tourists board the boats and settle in for a 20 minute ride into the heart of the park. For those who don’t want to take the boat, a tram runs back and forth from the visitors’ center to the park. The pontoon boat tour takes passengers along a snaking river shaded by magnolias, pine trees, cypress, palms and other magnificent native flora. Alligators, turtles, eagles, egrets, and other wildlife can be seen on the banks of the river as you make your way along. Your friendly captain provides information, antidotes, and park history as you slowly travel along.
Once you arrive at the actual park, you can choose to go to one of several areas. The most popular spot in the park is probably the underwater observatory with is a reinforced glass structure that descends below the springs surface and sits directly over the limestone fissure that marks the spring’s source. Here the water is warmer than surrounding areas and fish and manatees gather within feet of the glass observation windows.
Just a short distance from the underwater observatory is stadium seating for nature lectures. Here rangers explain about the native manatees, the unique eco-system of the park, and the history of the park. Nearby is the walkway that takes visitors through the zoo portion of the park.
Hommosassa Springs State Park is home to many native wildlife species and also some exotic species. One of the park’s stars is an African hippo which stared in several TV shows and movies. Other creatures that call the park home are red wolves, cougars, bobcats, eagles, black bears, river otters, Florida deer, owls, and Florida native snakes and reptiles.