Florida Guide > Places to Visit
Blue Springs State Park
Since our first trip to Florida in ’94, when we kept seeing references to ‘Save the Manatee’ on license plates, we had wanted to see this unusual creature in the wild. So, I started digging around on the Internet during the planning stages of our November trip. There’s so much more to Orlando than the theme parks and I was determined to find some alternatives.
For those of you who have never heard of the manatee, it is a large grey aquatic mammal about 10ft in length and weighing in at around the 1000lb mark. Its closest living land relative is the elephant! They migrate to the warmer Floridian waters during the winter and they are an endangered species.
Whilst trawling the web for Manatees I came across Blue Springs State Park. Located in Orange City, just a few miles from exit 114 of the I-4, the park offers nature trails, picnicking areas, swimming and a great nature boat trip. There is a $5 entry fee for the car.
From the main parking area, there is a boardwalk trail that takes you to the Blue Spring. We were lucky enough to see at least ten manatees on our visit, including a mother with her young calf.
You can also swim in the spring, although not with the manatees, and the park has a restroom block and two large picnic areas with covered pavilions and grills.
We took the two-hour nature boat trip. This was unexpected as it didn’t advertise it on the state park website, but are we glad that we did. The boat was crewed by two lovely ladies, passionate about wildlife and the park. This was one of the most enjoyable boat trips that we’ve been on. We were able to see yet more manatees, turtles, alligators, eagles, red kites and various other bird life. Take your camera and a good zoom lens - you won’t regret it.
We weren’t sure what to expect of the park, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you are looking to do a long walk. We would thoroughly recommend the boat trip, for us, this was the highlight of our visit (they also sell soft drinks and snacks on board which was handy as we hadn’t considered bringing food!). An afternoon here is probably enough unless you are planning on swimming and picnicking as well. We made a day of it by starting early and stopping for breakfast en-route.
You can checkout the state park website for further details and driving instructions at Blue Springs State Park.
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