There are so many wonderful things about the State of Florida and many of them are just plain free! On this site, I'll be exploring the free side of Florida as well as low cost options for your weekends or vacation. But because I don't want to steer you wrong, I'll post after I visit these places myself. Have a great time on the site and on your own adventures!

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Manatee Observation and Education Center, Ft. Pierce, FL

The Manatee Observation and Education Center is housed in a cute pink and turquoise building, right there on Florida's Indian River Lagoon. To let you know right off, this is not a place that has any manatees in tanks or cages. The "observatory" part is to describe the location, so you may or may not get to see the creature in real life.

The Center is another small location, but you really can't beat the price - only $1! This non-profit is not only educating visitors on the sea-cow, but also on the Indian River Lagoon, where the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean and the fresh water of the Indian River Lagoon meet and create an incredible mix of wildlife and nature.

Inside the Center, there is a central exhibit hall, the gift shop, education center with things for the little ones to play with, and specimen tanks sprinkled throughout. I do recommend a visit to the Center - with stipulations. During the summer, the manatees are generally not around as they are migratory animals. According to the literature at the Center, they usually are most prevalent between mid November and April. So if you're going to visit, that is the best time. Unfortunately, I did not visit in the winter months so did not get to see any of the big creatures.

Outside the Center, there are other interesting locations attached to the parking lot. There is the St. Lucie County Seven Gables Welcome Center, another building with a statue of a painting manatee out front, and probably the most important to the boaters among you, public water access for boat trailers. Interestingly, there also seems to be a Farmer's Market there on the waterside (presumably on the weekends).

While I do recommend visiting the Manatee Observation and Education Center, I do that partially based on the location being more than just the Center. With the other attractions there, as well as direct access to the water, it ends up being a great place. Finally, the Center does have monthly offerings of varying prices, weekly camps for the kids, kayak and boat tours, and party rentals for birthdays and other occasions.

For more information, please click Manatee Observation and Education Center or go to

Click HERE for a map.

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