Exploring Silver Springs State Park

There’s nothing more fun than being a tourist in your own state. Even though I’ve lived in Florida for my whole life, there are still so many places I have yet to explore.

Last weekend I went to Silver Springs State Park for the first time. Located just north of Ocala, it’s a stunning park known for its famous glass-bottom boats.

Yep, you read that right. Silver Springs hosts tours in boats whose bottoms are made of glass, giving visitors a perfect view of the pristine fresh water that runs through the springs.

I had never even heard of Silver Springs until a few weeks ago, when my boyfriend mentioned wanting to visit the park where he used to go on field trips when he was a kid. It’s about an hour and a half from where we live, so last weekend I packed up my camera bag and we headed out for a day of adventure.

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Walking into Silver Springs State Park was like walking onto the set of a movie set in the 1920s. The land is basically untouched except for the boat dock and an adorable white boardwalk with a few small shops.

The water was perfect, clear as glass and sparkling blue. We went on a pretty cold day (well, cold for Florida), so we decided not to take advantage of the kayaks or paddleboards available to rent, although that’s definitely on our list for our next visit.

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We explored the lush grounds, full of walking trails and seating areas with rocking chairs, where we’d stop to enjoy the view. But, by far the coolest thing about Silver Springs is the glass-bottom boats, so we got our tickets and climbed aboard.

Along with about 20 other people and a hilarious tour guide named Captain Jim, we sat aboard the wooden boats and peered down to the bottom of the water through the clear floor. Silver Springs has been offering these amazing tours for the last 100 years, and our trusty Captain Jim guided us through the springs and showed us sunken canoes from Native Americans and statues left over from movies filmed at the popular park.

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A view from the bottom of the glass-bottom boats

We opted for the 30 minute tour, which costs $11, but next time we’ll definitely be going on the extended tour. Although those are $25 a ticket, the boat goes out farther into the springs and you’re much more likely to see manatees and the Macaque monkeys that live on the islands in the springs.

Silver Springs State Park is the perfect spot for a relaxing day on the water. Super family-friendly with plenty of places to explore, it’s a Florida destination that I plan on revisiting again and again.

 

 

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