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While Florida is home to more than 700 natural freshwater springs scattered around the state, Blue Springs State Park is one of the best places to observe our famous West Indian manatees in their natural habitat. Located north of Orlando in Orange City, Blue Springs State Park is a designated manatee refuge where it’s not uncommon to observe an upwards of 200 crowding the spring run.
Covering more than 2,600 acres, Blue Springs State Park is the largest spring on the St. John’s River. A first magnitude spring that pumps about 165 gallons of water per day, it is the only state park system in the country to be awarded a National Gold Medal 3 times.
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The park offers 72-degree temperatures that are ideal for an array of summer activities, luring families in with its unspoiled natural landscapes. There is one activity that makes this place so special, however, and that’s the opportunity to watch manatees by the hundreds drift past the pedestrian-friendly boardwalk.
Parallelling the length of Blue Spring run to the St. John’s River, an easy-to-navigate boardwalk offers visitors of all ages the chance to take a self-guided tour through the variety of unique viewing platforms and browse interpretive exhibits that highlight information regarding the local wildlife and ecological wonders of the area.
Grazing along the grass flats and aquatic meadows, manatees can tip the scales at 1,000-3,500 pounds. Seeing a manatee for the first time is a captivating experience, where you’ll stand and stare at the mesmerizing movement of these beautiful creatures as they roam the crystalline waters, an authentic Florida experience you won’t soon forget.
One of Florida’s most beloved mammals, these wrinkled leathery creatures use Florida as their winter refuge, commonly spotted from November to March in what is referred to as manatee season. Sensitive to cold temperatures, manatees migrate in the winter and early spring to Florida’s warmer waters.
Blue Springs State Park also offers plenty of outdoor recreation for nature enthusiasts, perfect for a day of swimming, kayaking and paddling through its crystal clear waters. Its lush hammock and cool waters offer a much-needed relief from Florida’s sunshine, while boat tours operate narrated nature and ecological excursions throughout the area. During manatee season, swimming, diving, and canoeing are restricted.
- Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763
- Phone: (386) 775-3663