On a day when the sun is shining or peeking out from behind the clouds, one of the best water-oriented outings in Florida has to be a visit to Blue Spring State Park.
The park is located towards the middle of the state at 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, Fl 32763 (386) 775-3663. From mid-November through mid-May, this expansive spring feeding out of the St. Johns River is home to a familiar creature which seeks the warmth from the park’s balmy 72-73 degree spring water. Hundreds of West Indian Manatees can be seen slowly making their way in the spring to the daily delight and amazement of the visitors peering over the boardwalk to spot a great video or photo opportunity. Blue Spring State Park has been designated as a manatee refuge where the marine mammal, also known as the sea cow, hibernates to for a portion of the year, taking comfort in the safety of this sheltered area. This is one of the largest springs on the St. Johns River. The park’s website even gives curious viewers a social media platform to view the marine creatures from afar, on the Manatee TV . Park visitors are almost guaranteed a chance to see a good number of manatees in the cool morning hours, and, as you drive into the park, there is a small blackboard recording the number of manatees spotted so far on that particular day. These manatees are closely monitored at all times to make sure they stay in good health, but on occasion, there may be need for the park’s Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership to actively take measures to help save those manatees in distress situations. This may, at times, require more assistance from the Sea World Rescue Team, providing care almost like an animal hospital so the creatures can once again be released into the wild.
For the other eight months of the year, Blue Spring State Park, welcomes water enthusiasts to take part in all the exciting water activities available to them. There are boat cruises comprised of a 2-hour narrated nature and ecological tour on the St. Johns River, camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking along the nature trail and encountering various kinds of wildlife and plants, scuba diving for the certified diver, snorkeling, swimming and tubing. A concession stand provides welcome relief for the munchies and a means of quenching the thirst. Take home a souvenir, for the memories, in the gift shop staffed with friendly personnel ready to help you make a choice. You don’t even have to leave the dog at home. If your dog loves the outdoors, this park is certainly pet-friendly at all times of the year.
Children, parents and teachers find nature and the West Indian manatees one of the most magical ways to enjoy the Florida environment at Blue Spring State Park. It is a good idea to check out the park’s website in order to learn more about all the activities that they offer, location, hours and driving directions along with the history of the park. Mother Nature opens her back door to the many exciting parts of her world in water and on land right here at Blue Spring State Park.