Meet Manatees in Blue Springs State Park
Located at 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763, Blue Springs is 40 minutes from Daytona Beach and less than an hour from Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando. Filled with natural wonders including alligators, this Florida State Park is like visiting another world.
As you approach Blue Springs, you'll feel like you're entering a dream. The lagoon's water is so clear, it looks like glass, and the emerald green color is breathtaking. It's hard to put into words just how beautiful this natural spring is. You might have seen pictures of Blue Springs before, but trust us, they don't do it justice. The water is unlike anything you've seen before, and it stays a comfortable 72 degrees year-round. Surrounded by nature in a serene environment, it's the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Florida.
Blue Spring State Park is an affordable family-friendly destination with a vehicle entrance fee of only $6. While dogs are allowed on the premises, they must be leashed at all times. The park features a scenic 0.4-mile boardwalk that winds through a lush tropical forest known as a Hammock. From November to March, the spring is closed for people-related water activities, providing a warm refuge for the area's beloved manatees. Visitors can observe these gentle giants and other wildlife, such as turtles, heron, eagles, alligators, and large fish, from the boardwalk or the park's fishing dock. On our visit there were 600 manatees present. Note that fishing is not allowed within the spring itself.
Parking and Amenities
We drove to the parking lot which was busy but not full. It can fill up fast in the summer when swimming activities are available. There are also 51 campsites available (for RV's too) which are equipped with water and electricity. Showers and bathrooms are on-site. They also have 2-bedroom cabins available which are surprisingly modern with a full kitchen but no TV. Sit outside on the screened porch and relax instead! Click here for more camping and rental information.
A gift shop and concession are available at this park and there are plenty of covered picnic tables to enjoy. In season you can get a corn dog for the kids. Everything is open from 8 am to sundown. Rentals of tubes, canoes and kayaks are available. Blue Springs State Park will keep everyone happy for hours. Click here to explore all the things you do including boat tours and equipment rentals.
One important thing to note is that in the summer Blue Springs can get really crowded! When it is hot everyone wants to swim in the cool, refreshing water. Cars line up for miles and the park reaches capacity fast. You will have to get there very early in order to get in. It's best to book any tours or activities ahead of time online here.
For those who prefer to explore on their own, there are several walking trails to choose from at the park. The boardwalk is a leisurely half-mile walk that takes you to the spring, while the more adventurous can opt for the 4.5-mile Pine Island Trail. As you walk along these trails, you'll be surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery and may even have the chance to spot a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead.
Experience the Magic of Manatees
Manatees are considered a threatened species in Florida and there are only a few thousand left. Threats to their survival include habitat loss, collisions with boats and disease. In 2022, many were rescued due to starvation along the Atlantic coast of Florida. Blue Springs State Park is a designated manatee refuge. Conservation efforts are underway to protect manatees and their habitats. Keeping areas protected will help the population keep growing. It's a real treat to see these gentle giants enjoying a safe place.
Immerse Yourself in the Wonders of Blue Springs State Park
Traveling here in your vehicle is easy from Central Florida. Taking a tour of the St. Johns River is highly recommended. The 2-hour nature cruise enables you to explore wildlife up close. Historic yet fun this tour books up fast. The tour guides are dynamic and amusing as they discuss steamboat activity and point out the wildlife. You will see alligators! If you want to take the river cruise, you should book 4 days in advance of your visit. Click here to book.
Discover the Beauty of Blue Springs State Park
Blue Springs State Park is a great destination for anyone fascinated by alligators! Even after six years in Florida, we can't get enough of these amazing reptiles. It's an awe-inspiring experience to see these prehistoric creatures up close, especially when you consider the historical significance of the area. With manatees, turtles, and alligators sharing the crystal-clear waters, you'll feel like you're stepping back in time.
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.