Have You Heard About Silver Springs State Park?
With so many sunny days to choose from in Florida, getting out to explore nature and take advantage of the pleasant weather is a popular pastime.
Are you on the lookout for new places to visit?
Silver Springs State Park is always worth the trip, especially if you want to rent a kayak and observe the wildlife up close on the Silver River.
Since the 1800s, Silver Springs has been known as Florida’s most famous spring. Despite its central location in Ocala, which is a few miles off the freeway, many Floridians have never visited.
This is a nature lovers paradise with beauty in every direction.
What Is Silver Springs?
Located just east of Ocala, Silver Springs is one of the world’s largest artesian springs, feeding up to 550 million gallons of clean water into the Silver River, a 412-mile shorty that feeds the Ocklawaha River and then the St. Johns.
The spring was first used in the 1500s by Native Americans who resided in the area. Hernando de Soto, a Spanish adventurer, is thought to have been the first European to visit the area.
In the 1870s, glass-bottom boats were built and launched here, and in the 1920s, a couple of developers created what would become Florida’s first theme park — and what many consider to be the state’s first tourist destination.
Glass-bottom boats, from which visitors can still see fish and fossils beneath the surface, as well as turtles, alligators, and a variety of birds above it, were joined by animal exhibitions, attractions, and a water park.
In 1971, Silver Springs was designated as a national landmark and was acquired by the state of Florida in 2013.
The park is famous for many things including glass bottom boat rides, wildlife, beautiful landscaping, and frequent Hollywood productions.
Glass Bottomed Boats
This amazing 30-minute adventure is a favorite with the children as well as adults since it allows them to see the varied wildlife that lives beneath the Silver River’s surface (without worrying about getting wet or being eaten by an alligator!)
Groups are boarded onto the comfortable boats that feature a glass viewing port in the center.
This window is located below the water line and provides a view of the magnificent world that surrounds the springs.
The captain narrates your journey around many of the springs and assists you in identifying the various fish and other wildlife you come across.
Possible sightings include a variety of fish, alligators, birds, manatees, and even wild monkeys!
Boat rides currently cost $11 per adult.
In an attempt to establish a Tarzan-themed tourist attraction, an eccentric boat captain unleashed rhesus macaques monkeys on an island within the park grounds about 100 years ago.
The monkeys learned to swim and were able to flee the island.
The Silver River is now home to an estimated 176 monkeys. The park is focusing on relocating the monkeys because they are known to carry sickness.
Is There Swimming At Silver Springs?
Sadly, there is no swimming, snorkeling, or tubing at Silver Springs or on the river.
However, construction on a new swimming area has begun and should be completed soon.
As of May, 2022, visitors will have to be content with glass bottomed boats.
Silver Springs and Hollywood
Hollywood discovered Silver Springs in the 1930s, and over the years, scenes from at least 20 movies were made here.
Some famous flicks include James Bond’s Moonraker, James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause, an astounding six Tarzan movies, and Gary Cooper’s Distant Drums.
The famous television show, Sea Hunt was also filmed here with its star, Lloyd Bridges.
Silver Springs State Park Kayaking
One activity that is worth trying is kayaking as it is allowed at the park.
Paddlers can bring their own kayak, stand up paddleboard or canoe.
There is a $4 launch per kayak.
If you want to rent equipment, there is plenty to choose from.
Kayaks can be rented for 1 hour for $15, 2 hours for $20, or all day for $30.
The park now offers glass bottom kayaks which are a little more expensive at $30 for one hour.
Stand-up paddle boards can be rented for $20 for an hour at the park.
Silver Springs State Park has been an iconic feature in Ocala for over 100 years. It is without a doubt one of the best things you can do while on vacation or day tripping.
Check it out!