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Florida Mermaids Vacation Ideas For Little Girls
Learning about West Central Florida Wildlife Through a Hands-On Mermaid-Themed Vacation
I'm planning the vacation of a lifetime for my kids. We're going to go to West Central Florida and do our own mermaid hunt! We'll visit the beach and the rivers. We might run into some other Florida wonders like manatees, alligators, sea turtles, scallops, dolphins and more. Share what we've found out and plan your own trip to Central West Florida!
Florida Mermaid Vacation Budget
What Is This Going To Cost?
Current total: $2,017
Looking at the 2013 - 2014 CPS Calendar, spring break is April 14 through April 18. We can leave on Friday, April 11 and return on Sunday, April 20. Unfortunately, we're going to just miss the best manatee season (November 1 through March 31), but we'll still have fun.
- Airfare - Right now fares are about $375 per person into Tampa and $342 into Orlando. My oldest son wants to throw a trip to Monkey Jungle into the mix too, so I'll check out Miami and Ft, Lauderdale too. Miami is $343 per person. Ft. Lauderdale is $433 per person. Based on this, we'll look at either Orlando or Miami to fly into! Grand total on airfare for 5, averaging $350 each is $1,750.
- Car Rental -
- Hotel -
- Gasoline - I'll be keeping an eye on the price of gas in Tampa and then multiplying that by the total mileage of our trip. We'll need to firm up the itinerary in order to get this number.
- Restaurants - We'll do a lot of our own food, but what's a vacation if you can't go to a few restaurants? I'll be searching out coupons and local groupon deals!
- Manatee Experience - This looks like its going to run around $45 per person. For 5 people, that's going to be $225. I'm going to compare all the tour providers below and see what company makes the most sense for us. I think its going to average $45 though.
- Weeki Wachi - We'll need 2 adult tickets at $13 each and 2 children's tickets at $8 each. If we can get this together by next spring, the 5-year-old will be free. Grand total: $42. I'll keep an eye out for special deals and coupons via their Weeki Wachee Facebook Page.
- Airboat Ride -
- Pirate Cruise -
- MegaBite and Little Toot rides -
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium -
- Dinosaur World -
- Universal Studios -
- Monkey Jungle -
See The Manatees In Crystal River
Sunshine River Tours, Crystal River Manatee Tour & Dive, Florida Manatee Tours, River Ventures
PEAK MANATEE SEASON IS OCTOBER 1 THROUGH MARCH 31
Be sure your manatee experience doesn't harm these gentle and endangered giants. Companies we're checking out so far include:
Winter is the best time to see the manatees, as they venture inland to Crystal Rivers' year-round 72 degrees fahrenheit water instead of the colder ocean waters. Manatees prefer when you snorkel rather than scuba dive, as they don't like scuba bubbles too much!
River Ventures - On Crystal River, River Ventures offers manatee encounters from $45 per person, all gear included. They offer 7-days-a-week, year-round, 3-hour tours. You'll be transported by boat to the Crystal River Natural Wildlife Refuge, where you'll get a chance to snorkel with manatees. Free discount coupons are then given for your admission to the Ellie Schiller Homosassas State Park in neighboring Homosassas if you choose to visit there the following day. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are suggested.
Manatee Tour & Dive - Manatee Tour & Dive operates 5 tours daily. Snorkeling is recommended for interacting with the manatees, but you can also arrange dive trips, airboat rides, and deep-sea, inshore or bay fishing trips through this company. Manatee Tour & Dive offers kayaks and canoes for rent if you'd like to go on your own. Guided kayak tours are also on offer. This company requires a credit card number for reservations and has a 3-week cancellation policy or you will be charged. They are open 7 days a week, including holidays. Kids 10 and under are half-price. Children aged 3 and under are free with a full-paying adult.
Crystal Lodge Dive Center offers $25 manatee tours if you bring your own equipment or $35 tours if you need to rent equipment. Hours are daily from 8am to 6pm, except for Christmas. They offer guided tours of the Kings Bay, Crystal River and nearby Rainbow River. Crystal Lodge Dive Center offers PADI certified dive instruction 7 days a week. You can also rent a pontoon boat for $25 / hr (2 hour minimum) or a Johnboat for $17 / hr.Bird's Underwater, Inc. - offers 3 to 4 hour tours for $45 per person, all equipment provided. DVDs of your tour will be filmed: you can purchase them for $35. Reservations are required. Tours start at 6:15am. This is prime time to see the manatees, before the other boats get out and the manatees have moved away from the springs to feed. 9:00am tours can be an alternative - you must make special arrangements for them. Birds Underwater offers 11am river cruises, but does not consider them 'manatee tours' as your chances of seeing a manatee will be slim.Fun 2 Dive ChartersCrystal River ToursSunshine River ToursFlorida Manatee ToursAmerican Pro Diving CenterNature Coast Kayak Tours
Where in Florida is all this going on? - Crystal River, Clearwater Beach, Weeki Wachee, Plant City, Kissimmee
Alligators, Dinosaurs, Sharks, Pirates and More!
Go on Airboat Rides, go kayaking, visit some alligator farms
- Boggy Creek Airboat Rides - Featured as 'Orlando's closest airboat rides', these rides let you view exotic birds, turtles and the Florida alligator in their natural habitat. The rides are located in Kissimmee, FL, which is nearly 100 miles from Crystal River: about a 2 hour drive.
- Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise - Captain Memo offers either daytime or evening cruises with prices from $26 to $39 per person (depending on age and departure time). Captain Memo's pirate ship can carry 125 souls on board and sets sail from Clearwater Beach several times daily. You might view dolphins swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, and you're sure to live the pirate's life while on board. Clearwater Beach is about 76 miles from Crystal River and will take you nearly 2 hours to drive.
- MegaBite! looks like a shark, accomodates up to 30 passengers and departs from Clearwater Beach, FL several times daily. View dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico as well as local celebrity homes and other points of interest around Clearwater. Clearwater Beach is about 76 miles from Crystal River and will take you nearly 2 hours to drive.
- Dinosaur World is located in Plant City, FL, which is 95 miles from Crystal River. The drive will take you nearly 2 hours. Take kids on a dig for authentic fossils and view life-size statues of dinosaurs in this sub-tropical setting.
The Mermaid Giftshop
US 92 Kissimmee, FL
This massive mermaid statue adorns the outside of a Kissimmee, Florida gift shop. The shop is located on US Route 92.
Boggy Creek Airboat, MegaBite and Cpt. Memo's Pirate Ship Rides & Dinosaur World
Mermaid Tails - My daughter wants one of these desperately.
I think this gift will give any girl a summer she won't forget. My daughter's been bugging me for one of these all year. Have you heard about these?
Clearwater, Florida, is very near Crystal River and is a fantastic place to spot dolphins!
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium - Meet Winter, the star of 'Dolphin's Tale' at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. You can also feed stingrays and enjoy an eco-boat or behind the scenes tour.
- Little Toot offers the 'most and closest dolphin sightings on Clearwater Beach.' Approximately $15 for kids and $22 for adults, you'll love riding this tugboat and watching the dolphins follow!
See Dolphins in Clearwater, FL when you ride Little Toot or meet Winter the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
See the performing mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida
No mermaid hunting trip would be complete without a visit to Weeki Wachee in Weeki Wachee Springs, FL! Weeki Wachee Springs is only 46 miles, about an hour's drive, from the home of the manatees in Crystal Springs. Of course, the accepted 'truth' about mermaids is that drunken sailors saw manatees and mistook them for mermaids. Weeki Wachee has been putting on mermaid shows
Clearwater Beach Rental Properties
Don't just rent a hotel room, rent a cottage on the beach!
The Mermaid Cottage - 1 bedroom, 1 bath, on the beach. There's no hottub or pool, but you're on the beach! Rates are from $125 nightly.
Mermaids at Wiki Wachee Springs
Mermaid's Marathon - Marathon, Florida Keys
Cedar Cove Resort - Mermaid Suite - Anna Maria Island, FL
Disney Art of Animation Resort - Little Mermaid Room - Orlando, FL
Captiva Mermaid House With Private Pool - Captiva Island, FL
West Central Florida Wildlife - An Educational Tour About The Wonders Of West Central Florida
Get your kids ready to understand and appreciate the natural wonders of the West Central Florida Coastline. Throw in a bit of fantasy too when you add a book about mermaids!
Have you ever taken a trip to the central Western Florida coastline? Have you seen the manatees in person? Have you ever been to Weeki Wachee? Does your daughter love mermaids? What would you suggest for a Florida mermaid-themed vacation?