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TECO Manatee Viewing Center Reopens November 1

A popular Tampa Bay Area attraction is set to reopen on Monday, November 1 after closing in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

The TECO Manatee Viewing Center will once again welcome guests to walk the boardwalks and view the manatees as they seek the warm water discharge from Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach.

Don’t worry–the water is clean and not harmful to the manatees. In fact, the area is a state AND federally designated manatee sanctuary because it provides them with the warmth the manatees need to survive the coldest months of the year.

On some of the coldest days, you can expect to see hundreds of manatees from multiple different viewing vantage points at the center, so there is plenty of room to spread out.

This is a wonderful place to bring the kids and stroller and wheelchair friendly. It’s also a great spot to picnic, so bring your own lunch and snacks. There are plenty of picnic tables and outdoor seating areas for you and the family to enjoy.

TECO Manatee Viewing Center
One of the many outdoor seating areas at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach.

One of our other favorite things to do at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center is strolling along the nature loop and walking up the 50-foot high observation tower that offers stunning views. It’s about a mile long, so make sure you and the kids are wearing comfortable shoes and have plenty of water, sunscreen, and bug spray handy (this is ALWAYS a good idea in Florida, right??)

There are also picnic spots near the observation tower if you prefer to eat here.

TECO Manatee Viewing Center sting ray touch tank
Stingray touch tank at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach. (Photo from 2019)

Once you’ve checked in on the manatees, you can then head downstairs to see the Stingray touch tank which is operated in partnership with the Florida Aquarium.

The main building is also where you will find the Education Center, Restrooms and Gift Shop.

Keep in mind that we are still in a pandemic, so you will be required to wear a face mask when indoors. Among a few other things you’ll notice: a limited number of guests will be allowed inside the gift shop and you’ll see more hand sanitizing stations around the property in addition to more frequent cleanings.

Parking and admission to the TECO Manatee Viewing Center are free. It will be open daily from 10 am-5 pm from November 1, 2021-April 15, 2022 with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The Center will close at 3 pm on Christmas Eve.

What’s NEW at the TECO Manatee Viewing Center

Remember the education center we just mentioned? It’s undergoing some pretty big upgrades.

TECO has put the time the center was closed to good use by renovating the education building and adding new interactive games and displays. The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The TECO Manatee Viewing Center is a part of the Florida Conservation and Technology Center which will have its grand opening in January. The campus will include the Tampa Electric Clean Energy Center, Florida Aquarium Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center and Coral Care Complex, FWC Youth Conservation Center and the Marine Fisheries Enhancement Center.

Learn more here.

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Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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