One of my new favorite places in Florida is Blue Spring State Park! It’s a super popular spot for tourists and locals alike, which proves just how incredible it is.
The park is located about 40 minutes north of Orlando, about 2 hours south from Jacksonville. It costs anywhere from $3-10 per person and per vehicle, so not too much but if you’re a local or plan on visiting a few of Florida’s state parks, I would recommend buying a Florida State Parks pass. It’s like $36 and lasts all year.
When I visited in February, there was a SUPER long line to enter because…. IT’S MANATEE SEASON! In the wintertime, manatees come to Blue Springs. Because of the manatees, they close off portions of the park for their safety and also restrict swimming. Normally, in the summertime, you can go swimming in the crystal-clear shallow areas (a very popular summertime pastime!).
One of the best ways to see the manatees is by kayaking! I rented my kayak from Blue Springs Adventures, where you can rent kayaks for a specific time (1hr, 4hrs, all day) or take a guided tour. There’s also a Riverboat Cruise that looked fun but was sold out by the time I wanted to go.
Kayak rentals start in the morning, at like 8:30am, and that’s honestly the perfect time to be out on the water. The spring is so calm and steady, and the manatees are out of their protected area to graze and eat.
I chose the 4-hour kayak rental option and it was incredible. I’m a beginner kayaker and was nervous to go alone, but I managed okay. I spent most of my time near the manatees, of course, but it was really nice to explore the St. Johns River, which Blue Springs leads into.
Besides kayaking and seeing the manatees, there are many different things to do in Blue Springs State Park. There’s a short boardwalk that you can walk along, as well as a short trail called Blue Springs Trail that takes you to the start of the spring, where the water comes up from the Earth. The trail is about a mile long one-way (20 minutes of walking), super short and easy.
Along the boardwalk, you can find spots with historical facts,
A cute manatee statue that people like to take photos with,
And there’s also a few spots to eat, shop, and explore the historical Thursby House.
The start of the spring itself is beautiful – it’s crystal clear and stunning. Apparently, if you’re certified, you can go SCUBA diving down in the spring!
Kayaking with the manatees was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that I hope everyone can have at least once in their lives. If you can’t go kayaking, stopping at Blue Springs to see the manatees or go swimming when the manatees aren’t there is still an incredible opportunity.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Blue Springs State Park? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!