AmericasEntertainmentHealthNatureTop StoriesUncategorizedUnited States

Where in the United States can you check off these #BUCKETLIST experiences?

(Originally published July 2023. Revised January 2024))

Have you ever…          

  • Paddled a canoe through alligator infested waters?
  • Visited a river so clear that you could see the bottom?
  • Swam with manatees?
  • Witnessed the antics of wild monkeys?
Tip: Bring snacks and water in a water-resistant bag. (A “dry bag” would have been even better!) Image captured by 2023. Property of 2023.

Not Yet? 

I’d bet a lot of you didn’t know that you could do these things in the Continental United States… (It’s okay, I was surprised at first too!)  “So, where?” you say. Well…

Did we capture the image of a Cormorant or an Anhinga?  We know, do you? 
Property of Original Photo created by 2023.
Did we capture the image of a Cormorant or an Anhinga?  We know, do you? 
Property of Original Photo created by 2023.

The state of Florida truly has a bit of something for everyone, from nature-lover to history buff, not just the obvious and endlessly advertised destinations!  To change it up a bit, let’s talk about some that are not Internationally renowned, like the 2 state parks we enjoyed last January:

Silver Springs State Park

According to the boat launch staff, we could have checked wild monkeys off our list, if only we had arrived earlier in the day, but we still enjoyed an AMAZING canoe trip!  Many of the best ways to experience this park are over the water, and there’s an option for every level of adventurer.  Follow this link, directly to the park, for the full range (including #glassbottom boats!):   Silver Springs State Park – World Famous Glass Bottom Boats  
(Not a paid link. I make nothing but the smile on your face for including this link.  Provided as a service to readers.  You will be leaving this blog and site. We guarantee nothing.  The link redirects to the state park’s website.)

Kayakers under bridge. Property of Original Photo created by 2023.

As I mentioned before, we chose to paddle, which was the perfect choice for this group.  We appreciated the light exercise, interludes of relaxing to enjoy the view, and the excitement, with every close animal encounter! The best of these checked an item we didn’t know was on the list…  Around a bend, not far from the boat launch, only a few feet to our right… we were passed by an alligator nearly the size of our canoe!  While the reptile paid no attention to us whatsoever, I think each heart skipped a beat, or three. It was an unforgettable moment for sure! 

Actual photo of alligator passing our canoe! Property of Original images created by 2023.

Manatee Springs State Park

After the canoe trip, craving even more Florida state park fun, we took a short drive North to enjoy another clear water spring, where we learned swimming was popular year-round! Always looking to “learn from the locals,” I was able to gleam information from people who worked within the park and other guests. Oddly enough, according to the concession stand staff, the colder it is outside, the more crowded the springs are with guests!  Apparently, since the water temperature stays consistent, this spring is most crowded during frigid winter! 

In the relative warmth we experienced, I wasn’t brave enough to get in past my waist… Kids were swimming, but they seem not to notice cold as much as I do.  Also, admittedly, I was a bit afraid of more alligators. The sign that greeted us while exiting the parking area did not help.  I watched a man who claimed to work at the park, and swim there regularly, maneuver himself to the center of the spring and back again safely, so there is that…

It says, “known to attack humans!” (Image Captured by January 2023.

Often, this location offers a unique opportunity to swim among manatees, for no more than the cost of the park pass, but it requires a bit of luck in timing. Although we didn’t get this up-close opportunity to view the West Indian manatees during our visit (a more likely opportunity in such early months), I did get to record a brief and blurry video of a mother and calf from the boardwalk, prior to packing camp on the last morning of our stay. 

While standing on the boardwalk, I wasn’t able to get a close enough view of the mostly submerged animals across the water with my limited equipment.  In fact, the large mammals were far enough that I had to ask a nearby viewer (conveniently a member of park staff) to verify I was looking in the correct spot.  What appeared somewhat like a pair of floating white logs were, in fact, the manatee cow and calf that I had been told would be near the end of the boardwalk! 

Baby Manattee Breeches!
(This distant view of a mother and calf is FAR from the best manatee image I have seen, as the park provides plenty! Still counting it a win for my #bucketlist!)
Image cut from video captured by Property of 2023.

Again, with better luck we may have seen them swimming in the pools near the springheads, but my manatee fortunes were slim this trip.  If we had, this portion of the article would feature much better images! From my distance, I was able to record this brief moment of the baby calf breeching. If you look closely, you may see the calf’s front flipper, while its snout is slightly above the water.  I recorded the mother breeching in the video also, but the view is no better, as she is yet more skilled at minimizing her movement and holding her breath. Though I hope to try again at that timing, I am checking the manatee box of my bucket list on this. Have you ever? Why not give it a try?

Check out the manatee tour options in these sponsored links below, so that you may post better pics than mine in the comments!

One thought on “Where in the United States can you check off these #BUCKETLIST experiences?

  • Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the
    rest of the website is extremely good.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *