Florida Wildlife & Laughter
Manatees, Dolphins and Elephants, Oh My!
5 Days | Year-Round
Starting At $Flexible Pricing
This new itinerary features a great combination of awesome attractions. You visit the Myakka Elephant Ranch, the Manatee Viewing Center and a dolphin cruise. Plus, there’s a dinner train and a dinner cruise as well as a lesson on sponge diving. My Oh My, we’re excited about this package and we hope you are too.
We are happy to accommodate Groups who want to add a night or two, or further customize their trip.
StarrGroups Flexible Pricing:
- Customizable Comps
- Net Rates
- Luxury or First Class Hotels & Meals
- Starr Tours Motorcoach Transportation & Professional Tour Managers are available
Whatever you want, StarrGroups will be happy to structure tour prices to match your needs. Just let us know!
Day 1 – Fort Myers, FL
Arrive today in Fort Myers, FL. Discover for yourself why Fort Myers beaches are considered among the best in the world. Check into your hotel for a two-night stay. Dinner is included this evening at a local restaurant. (D) ** Groups can upgrade this to the Broadway Palms Dinner Theatre if they wish.
Day 2 – Free Morning for Beach – Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise – Free Time in Downtown River District – Edison & Ford Winter Estates – Fort Myers Dinner Train
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then enjoy a Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise. This two-hour eco tour allows you to encounter the awesome animals that thrive in the local waters of Fort Myers Beach. You may see dolphins, manatees, birds, and more as you cruise along the waters. The captain will provide narration and fun facts about the playful mammal or share the history of the area. This cruise is fun, educational and unforgettable.
Next, enjoy some free time in the Downtown River District for lunch on own. Within this district you will find a maze of narrow streets, alleyways, courtyards, and brick lined sidewalks flanked with palm trees. Here there is an abundance of small boutiques, galleries, theaters, restaurants and cafes. Along with a bunch of shaded places to tuck away for a chat and park benches to catch a rest.
Your afternoon features a visit to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates where you discover the genius of two American innovators, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. There is much to explore, with nine historic buildings, acres of lush gardens, Edison’s original botanic research laboratory and the 15,000-square-foot museum filled with hundreds of inventions and artifacts, special exhibit galleries and documentaries about the famous inventors.
Tonight, enjoy a truly unique dining experience on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train! Join the fun and become a Super Sleuth as you try to solve Who Dunnit? during the comical murder mystery show that plays out in the aisles of each dining car in between the courses of your meal. Each passenger receives a playbill, clue sheet, and pen to follow along with the live scripted show, writing down clues as they go. Clue sheets are collected before the final resolution act. This is truly a unique experience and you have the opportunity to enjoy the murder mystery play, interspersed with a five-course meal prepared fresh on board, beverage service and of course, conversation with your fellow tablemates. (B,D)
Day 3 – Myakka Elephant Ranch Educational Encounter – Tampa, FL – Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center – Free Evening at Tampa Riverwalk
This is Fat Animal Day. Departing Fort Myers after breakfast, your first stop is just outside Sarasota at the Myakka Elephant Ranch. Here you will enjoy an Educational Elephant Encounter where you will learn everything about Elephants. You will also get to touch, and take selfies with the elephants. (subject to availability)
**Smaller Groups can upgrade to the Spa Encounter which is for groups of up to 25 people that participates in caring for the Elephants. The Spa Encounter also includes the Educational Encounter.
Making your way to Tampa this afternoon, stop in Apollo Beach, FL at Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center (Available Nov-April). Manatees love warm water. And by a stroke of POWERful luck, Tampa Electric can provide it to them! The Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay. In the winter months, the manatees leave colder waters to return to this warm and welcoming refuge.
At the Manatee Viewing Center everyone has a chance to see manatees gather. The discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.
Check into your Tampa, FL hotel for a two-night stay. Enjoy a free evening on the Tampa Riverwalk. Take in the beautiful waterfront views and feel the warm sun along the Tampa Riverwalk. This 2.6-mile walk runs along the Hillsborough River to the Garrison Channel. Start your journey at the bustling Heights Market at Armature Works, stop along at the vibrant Curtis Hixon park, and continue until you reach Sparkman Wharf. Locals and visitors alike can walk, bike, or take a scooter down the Riverwalk where they can stop at one of the many attractions, bars, or restaurants. At night, witness the colorful lights that bring the Riverwalk to life. (B)
Day 4 – Tarpon Springs, FL – Sponge Diving Exhibition Cruise – Free Time on the Sponge Docks – Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum – Tampa Dinner Cruise
Today, spend the day in Tarpon Springs, FL where you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to a coastal Greek village where the sound of bouzouki music spills out into the sidewalk along with the scent of enticing food. The coastal city was founded in the early 1900s by Greek sponge divers who were looking to harvest the natural sea sponges that thrive in the local waters of the Anclote River. Today, the city boasts the largest Greek community in the United States.
Head to the Sponge Docks where you board the St Nicolas Boat for a Sponge Diving Exhibition Cruise on the Anclote River. As you travel, your Captain relates the history of the area sponge diving industry, providing a hands-on display of the various types of sponges and their uses.
The highlight of the tour is watching a sponge diver in a traditional inflated sponge diving suit descends from the boat into the river. You can watch as he moves quickly across the river floor. He harvests a live sponge and returns with it to the boat.
Then enjoy some free time for lunch on own and shopping at the Sponge Docks. Walk along Dodecanese Boulevard to see docked sponge boats, shops selling seas sponges and restaurants serving up authentic Greek cuisine. The early sponge industry created a need for eating places at the Docks for the boat crews. Some of the original shops remain at the Docks today, owned by the same families that started them. Through the years more shops have opened, putting the number at well over 100 today. There are approximately fifteen restaurants in the Sponge Docks area, several of them internationally known.
The afternoon features a tour of the Heritage Museum, located at the heart of Tarpon Springs, in shady Craig Park overlooking Spring Bayou. This beautifully renovated facility, has 2 separate wings. The History Wing contains an exhibit about the Greek community of Tarpon Springs and the local sponge industry. The ecology wing features the large-scale murals of Tarpon Springs artist Christopher Still. Each of the murals contains many symbolic elements that introduce the people and events that shaped Florida’s history from 16th century European discovery to modern times.
Returning to Tampa this evening, enjoy a dinner cruise on the Yacht StarShip. Take in spectacular views of Downtown Tampa while enjoying a Free at Sea complimentary open bar. It’s time to escape and relax with the best views of Tampa, dinner aboard America’s first 3-Diamond-rated dining yacht, dancing on the top deck, and an open bar that’s free at sea! (B,D)
Day 5 – Depart for Home
After breakfast, depart for home. (B)