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For manatee watching, there is no finer destination than Blue Spring State Park. Each winter, hundreds of manatees crowd into the shallow, warm waters of Blue Spring Run, feeding, mating, and sleeping within easy view of the crowds that walk the boardwalk to see these gentle giants. First written about by botanist John Bartram in 1766, Blue Spring “boils up from the bottom like a pot,” providing swimmers and divers a unique underwater playground during the warmer months. In the cool times of year, however, the spring and its run are off-limits to all but the wildlife that find it a refuge from the cooler waters of the St. Johns River. The ...

For manatee watching, there is no finer destination than Blue Spring State Park. Each winter, hundreds of manatees crowd into the shallow, warm waters of Blue Spring Run, feeding, mating, and sleeping within easy view of the crowds that walk the boardwalk to see these gentle giants. First written about by botanist John Bartram in 1766, Blue Spring “boils up from the bottom like a pot,” providing swimmers and divers a unique underwater playground during the warmer months. In the cool times of year, however, the spring and its run are off-limits to all but the wildlife that find it a refuge from the cooler waters of the St. Johns River. The park extends for several miles along the river, with access for kayaks and canoes – including on-site rentals – to the mazy meanders of the St. Johns River swamp and a large lagoon. St. Johns River Cruises offers the only fully-accessible ecotours along the river, cruising into side channels and dead rivers to bring you up close to wildlife. Atop the bluff is the Thursby House, home of the first settlers in the region and, restored to its original beauty, open for interpretive tours. With a large campground, comfortable cabins, and backcountry camping for backpackers, it’s a weekender’s delight.

Sandra Friend
About the Expert

Sandra Friend has written 12 books about Florida, including the Explorer's Guide (Countryman Press) series to Florida.

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Sandra Friend for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter