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Geno

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COVID-19 caused so many things to close in 2020. Lightning, Rays and Bucs games had a lot of empty seats. Concerts were canceled or postponed. But for manatee lovers, not getting that up close experience with those lovable creatures at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach was a real bummer.

When temperatures dropped below 60 last December, the manatees returned but their fans couldn’t see them. The manatees show up in big numbers when Florida temperatures drop because of the warm water the power plant discharges.

Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center website has announced that their award-winning facility will reopen to the public Monday, November 1. That’s good timing because cooler weather should be here by this weekend. If you’ve never gone, pop this into your GPS: 6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572. You can reach the center by calling (813) 228-4289. If you want to bring a big group, they ask you to reserve a time here.

When you get there, take the loop trail to get to a 50 foot high viewing tower. Expect to do about a mile of walking and you’ll climb several flights of steps to get to the top of the tower so wear comfortable shoes. You can bring a lunch to eat at one of the picnic tables at the tower’s base but there are no food or drinks sold at the tower.

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