Beginning of main content
Trip Type
Flight 1
Flight 2
Flight 3
Flight 4
Flight 5

Search over 1,000,000 properties worldwide and 550 airlines worldwide.

Search over a million flights, hotels, packages, and more

No Expedia cancellation fee to change or cancel almost any hotel reservation.

Manatee Viewing Center

This viewing center is a free-entry wildlife sanctuary where large numbers of manatees congregate in the warm waters of an industrial power plant.

Take the family on an entertaining and educational trip to observe Florida manatees in the wild. The Manatee Viewing Center is situated at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.

A coal-fired industrial plant may seem an unlikely place to experience nature, but manatees are drawn to the warmth of its discharge canal. Saltwater is taken from Tampa Bay to cool down the plant, and when it flows back into the canal, it’s warm and clean.

These bulky marine mammals need water temperatures above 68 F (20 C) to survive. When the Tampa Bay temperature drops during the winter, the animals escape to the safe haven of Big Bend. They were first seen here in large numbers in 1986. So many onlookers turned up to view the animals that the power plant’s owners decided to create the viewing center.

Stand on the observation decks and viewing platforms at the end of the canal. Watch these warm-blooded mammals swim and play in the shadow of giant industrial chimney stacks. The best photo opportunities are when the manatees come to the surface to breathe air through their nostrils. They do so every three to five minutes, so you won’t have to wait too long to get a close-up shot of their faces.

Before your visit, check if there are any manatees in the water by viewing the webcams on the sanctuary’s website.

Walk in the butterfly garden and take the Tidal Walk. This is a short self-guided nature trail through native flora and is a good place for more wildlife spotting. Brown pelicans, cormorants, herons and stingrays are just some of the species that can be seen.

The Manatee Viewing Center is open daily between November and April. On-site amenities include a visitor center with interactive displays about manatees, restrooms, a café and free parking.


Guide to Exploring Manatee Viewing Center


Map

Top Hotel Deals

See all 260 properties near Manatee Viewing Center
Pet Friendly Executive Vacation Get-a-way
Pet Friendly Executive Vacation Get-a-way

Pet Friendly Executive Vacation Get-a-way

Apollo Beach, FL
     
    4.0
    of 5, from 4 reviews
    0.0 out of 5.0

    Situated on the waterfront, this romantic vacation home is close to Manatee Viewing Center. Area attractions also include Cypress Golf Club and E.G. Simmons Regional Park.

    Fish Right From Your own Dock in This Beautiful 2 Story Townhouse!
    Fish Right From Your own Dock in This Beautiful 2 Story Townhouse!

    Fish Right From Your own Dock in This Beautiful 2 Story Townhouse!

    Apollo Beach, FL
       
      4.0
      of 5, from 3 reviews
      0.0 out of 5.0

      Situated in Apollo Beach, this vacation home is 2.6 mi (4.1 km) from Manatee Viewing Center and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Cypress Golf Club. East Bay Raceway Park and South Bay Hospital are also within 12 mi (20 km).

      Pool Home Steps Away From Beach & Beautiful Sunsets
      Pool Home Steps Away From Beach & Beautiful Sunsets

      Pool Home Steps Away From Beach & Beautiful Sunsets

      Apollo Beach, FL
         
        5.0
        of 5, from 1 reviews
        0.0 out of 5.0

        Situated in Apollo Beach, this romantic vacation home is within 9 mi (15 km) of Manatee Viewing Center, E.G. Simmons Regional Park, and Cypress Golf Club. South Bay Hospital and East Bay Raceway Park are also within 12 mi (20 km).

        Tropical Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-bring Your Boat!!!
        Tropical Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-bring Your Boat!!!

        Tropical Waterfront Florida Pool Home With Dock-bring Your Boat!!!

        Apollo Beach, FL
           
          5.0
          of 5, from 14 reviews
          0.0 out of 5.0

          Located in Apollo Beach, this family-friendly vacation home is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) from Manatee Viewing Center, and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Cypress Golf Club. Camp Bayou Nature Preserve and Little Manatee River State Park are also within 12 mi (20 km).

          Updated Waterfront Tampa Home by RedAwning
          Updated Waterfront Tampa Home by RedAwning

          Updated Waterfront Tampa Home by RedAwning

          6408 Key Island Ave, Apollo Beach, FL
             
            5.0
            of 5, from 1 reviews
            3.0 out of 5.0

            Situated in Apollo Beach, this vacation home is 1.4 mi (2.3 km) from Manatee Viewing Center and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Cypress Golf Club. South Bay Hospital and East Bay Raceway Park are also within 9 mi (15 km).

            4bd/2b Waterfront House w/ Sailboat Deep Water, Pool & Private Docks
            4bd/2b Waterfront House w/ Sailboat Deep Water, Pool & Private Docks

            4bd/2b Waterfront House w/ Sailboat Deep Water, Pool & Private Docks

            Apollo Beach, FL
               
              4.5
              of 5, from 24 reviews
              0.0 out of 5.0

              Situated in Apollo Beach, this vacation home is 2.5 mi (4 km) from Manatee Viewing Center and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Cypress Golf Club. South Bay Hospital and Camp Bayou Nature Preserve are also within 9 mi (15 km).

              Relax on the Water Watching the Manatees Play
              Relax on the Water Watching the Manatees Play

              Relax on the Water Watching the Manatees Play

              Apollo Beach, FL
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in Apollo Beach, this property is 2.3 mi (3.8 km) from Manatee Viewing Center and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Cypress Golf Club. South Bay Hospital and East Bay Raceway Park are also within 12 mi (20 km).

                3/2 Apollo Beach Waterfront Home With Private Pool & Boat Lift/dock
                3/2 Apollo Beach Waterfront Home With Private Pool & Boat Lift/dock

                3/2 Apollo Beach Waterfront Home With Private Pool & Boat Lift/dock

                Apollo Beach, FL
                   
                  5.0
                  of 5, from 43 reviews
                  0.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in Apollo Beach, this family-friendly vacation home is 2.4 mi (3.9 km) from Manatee Viewing Center, and within 9 mi (15 km) of E.G. Simmons Regional Park and Camp Bayou Nature Preserve. Cypress Golf Club and South Bay Hospital are also within 9 mi (15 km).