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Water Parks

Florida Guide > State Parks

If you want to see some of Florida’s natural beauty, take a ride out to the Blue Spring State Park. One of many State Parks to be found in Central Florida, this is a tranquil area of Florida - a renown manatee refuge in the cooler months around December through March. Ideal for families, nature lovers and picnickers there is much to see and enjoy.

From Highways 192, take the I4 north. This passes through Downtown Orlando, the areas of Lake Mary, Heathrow and Sanford until turning off and following the signs to Blue Spring Park, 35 miles north of Orlando. From the 192 it is approximately 60 miles.

Regularly there is ample parking, although when going to see the manatees early in the year, the park does have its peak period. There are picnic tables with BBQs to use (these may not be in use during the dry season when fires are a threat) as well as a grass area to sit and picnic.

Originally Blue Spring State Park was home to the Native American. In 1766 it was visited by a British Botanist, John Bartram, but it was not until 1856 when the land was sold to Louis Thursby and his family. He paid $400 for 133 acres! This family built a large, white wooden framed house, with a veranda, in 1872 and the ground floor is open to the public to look around. As if to prove the house is original and authentic there is a musty smell as you go inside!

Walking from the house across to St John’s River, surrounded by trees you can take a river cruise. To find out more information on the cruises telephone: 386-917-0724. The day we visited the park there were two cruises at 11am and 1pm. Here you can rent a kayak and/or a canoe if you are feeling energetic and adventurous. (It may be a good idea to bring a swim suit). Carrying on our journey, from here you take a pretty pathway, over looking clear crystal water, surrounded by lush vegetation. If you look down into the clear water, you will see varieties of fish – some large and about two feet long – one variety resembled a sword fish (sorry, I’m no angler to know the exact breed! ). Others jump out of the water and are fascinating to watch. Further along the pathway you learn from information boards about the manatees – the park’s famous cool season visitor.

These large, gentle, harmless vegetarian mammals, often referred to as the sea cow, move into Blue Springs to enjoy the all year water temperature of 73 degrees. In Blue Springs they are warm, safe and protected, away from the dangers of the river where they can be harmed, for example by boats and their engines.

But during the months March – November when they are not visiting, you are welcome to swim in a designated area. You can hire inflatable tubes to enjoy a float in the warm waters. If you are feeling adventurous and are a confident swimmer, you can walk through the shallow water where at the end of the water there are branches leaning out – great for sitting and jumping into the water. Then you can continue walking into an area which despite being clear is so deep you cannot see the bottom!

For those not so brave to take a dip, the pathway continues right to the end where you can spectate. As well as watching those having fun in the water, you can watch and listen for birdlife. We saw many species but sadly didn’t recognise many to name for you.

We certainly enjoyed our visit and spent a peaceful lazy 4-5 hours there. If you’d like more information telephone: 386-775-3663.

Author: Denise and Nigel Taylor (Villa link: click here)
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Page added on: 13 May 2007
Viewed 4137 times since 1 September 2008.

The following photos have been submitted by our villa owners for this article.

Huge water area

Boarded paths through the trees

Lots of walkways

Canoeing in the river

Beautiful clear spring water for swimming

Blue spring

Side view of estate house

Clear spring water

Original property open to visitors

Amazing tree
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