One of the greatest blessings of our fall vacation to Florida was getting to see Manatees in their natural habitat. Blue Spring State Park is a designated Manatee refuge and the winter home to a growing number of West Indian Manatees.
In the summer, manatees travel freely around Florida rivers and coastal waters. But when the weather starts to cool, manatees move into warm water refuge areas like Blue Spring. This clear spring stays a consistent 72 degrees year round.
Blue Springs State Park is located about one hour north of Orlando, Florida. The park covers 2,600 acres. The main attraction is the Blue Spring and the St. John's River. A half mile boardwalk with viewing platforms borders the Blue Spring run. The St. John's River is on one end, and the clear, translucent spring is on the other end.
We found this cute mosaic manatee statue on one of the viewing platforms, and of course we had to have a little fun with him.
My silly husband!
We arrived at the park when it just opened and it was so peaceful! I highly recommend arriving in the morning before all the screaming children arrive. It was such a surreal experience to be out in nature enjoying the peace and quiet and watching these beautiful creatures swim in the crystal clear waters.
This is St. John's River, where the boardwalk begins. This is also where you can catch a boat tour. The tour is two hours long and cost $24.00 per person. We did not take the tour for financial reasons, so I can't give you any information other than that.
The manatee walk was enjoyable not just because of the manatees, but also because of all the amazing plants and palms we discovered along the way as well.
This old house is also along the walk. It sits right along the spring and is called The Thursby House. It was built in 1872 and became the hub of activity on the St. John's River, hosting steamboat passengers as they made their way up and down the river.
We did not go inside, because I did not know we could until I started researching this post. I think we were so excited to see manatees, we just weren't interest in an old house at the time. But HERE is a video if you'd like to see what the inside looks like.
Like I said earlier, I loved the nature walk through the Florida jungle as much as I enjoyed the manatees! Just look at these gorgeous palms, the spagham moss, and the trunks of these trees!
The boardwalk kept us safe from alligators! We didn't see any, but there plenty of warning signs that they were around!
Can you believe how crystal clear these waters are? Just look at this magnificent mammal! Isn't he breath-taking?
And there was a lot more to see in these crystal clear waters other than manatees; there were plenty of fish as well! I've never seen so many fish in my life! And I've never been able to look at them in clear water before either!
This is one of the many viewing stations located on the walk. That is my son-in-law, my daughter, and my husband. If your wondering where my son Jordan is in all these pictures, he couldn't come with us because he had to work. We unfortunately didn't get to spend as much time with Jordan on this trip because of his job, but I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in February!
No one is allowed to swim, fish, or boat during the manatee season. These are park employees observing the manatees.
This lovely bench was located on the walk. Don't you just love how the branches of the tree hang over in such a horizontal fashion? I love that moss too!
But if you have kids, this is a perfect place to take them. The boardwalk is flat and accessible for strollers and little kids will have no problem walking the short hike. I can actually understand why they were screaming in excitement. If I went to a place like this when I was a little kid, I'd be excited too! It is definitely a learning experience for them as well.
It only cost $6.00 per vehicle to enter the park (limit 2 to 8 people per vehicle). A single occupant vehicle is $4.00, and pedestrians are only $2.00! So it is quite the inexpensive travel adventure!
Have a great day! Amy
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