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Continuing my staycations right on into 2021. Last week found me at two more beautiful Florida State Parks. Blue Spring State Park and DeLeon Spring State Park. Both located east of Ocala.
The manatees! The more we strolled along the boardwalk, the more of these beautiful gentle giants we were able to see. Blue Spring State Park is right up there as a must visit places as Three Sisters Springs near Crystal River. If you missed my post about Three Sisters you can read it here: Three Sisters Springs Manatees.
I’m definitely putting my annual Florida State Park Pass to use this year. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry. It’s very affordable to visit any park:
Florida State Park Admission Info:
$6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$4 Single Occupant Vehicle.
$2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
Blue Spring State Park (not to be confused with Madison Blue Spring State Park in Madison County or Lafayette Blue Spring State Park in Lafayette County) is located in Orange City, Florida. Absolutely gorgeous – but then again most Florida State Parks are.
Winter is the time when manatees head into the springs to escape the cold rivers. Florida’s springs are usually 72 degrees year round where the river temps could dip into the 50’s. We were not disappointed the day we went as it had been particularly cold for several days. It was manatee heaven!
Blue Spring State Park has a boardwalk with several observation areas overlooking the spring and the spring run that flows into the St. John River (future kayaking trip for me). The water is crystal clear. I looked at a fish looking right back at me for several minutes with his big buggy eyes.
Big ones. Small ones. Baby ones. There were so many manatees, I can’t see how they keep count as they mainly do a visual count. The board said there were over 400 manatees in the spring this day.
My favorite part of the day were the two manatees “kissing”. They looked like they were kissing. What the pic I was able to snap doesn’t show is the baby right underneath them.
The Thursby House, also located in this park, was closed and boarded up when we visited. I’m not sure why and was a bit disappointed I wasn’t at least able to look in the windows. The Thursby House was built in 1872. From State Park website:
Gold Rush prospector turned orange-grower Louis Thursby purchased Blue Spring in 1856. Before the railroad rolled through in the 1880s, Thursby’s Blue Spring Landing was a hotbed of steamboat activity, shipping tourists and goods to Jacksonville and beyond. Mrs. Thursby was Orange City’s first postmistress.
‘The Forgotten Mermaids,’ an episode of the Underwater World of Jacques Cousteau, was filmed here in 1971. The documentary brought attention to the manatee and the importance of Blue Spring as a winter refuge, greatly influencing the state’s decision to purchase the land.
I plan to make a camping/kayaking trip soon to this park so I hope the home will be open to visit. Camping is available for $24/night plus fees and taxes. There is also a gift shop and small store where you can purchase snacks such as chips, hot dogs or salads.
2100 W French Avenue
Orange City FL 32763
Phone: 386-775-3663 Open 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Plan your trip: Blue Spring State Park
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Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH. Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise