spring water shimmers in the sun at Silver Springs
State Park on Thursday, July 18, 2019 in Silver
Disney was even a twinkle in his father’s eye, Silver
Springs was offering Florida natives and visitors one of
the first — and now oldest — attractions in the state.
bottom boat tours have been showing visitors a unique view
of the spring-fed Silver River since the late 1800s. The
watercraft may be newer now, but the experience of gazing
through glass at fish and turtles swimming below the boat
has remained largely the same for more than 100 years.
commercial ownership, Silver Springs became home to jungle
boat cruises (with wild rhesus monkeys that still exist
around the spring), a Jeep wilderness trail ride and a
the nearly 5,000-acre swath of land surrounding Silver
River changed from a privately held theme park to a state
glass bottom boat tours, visitors have the opportunity to
peer through the crystal-clear spring water to see
eelgrass and remnants of sunken watercraft below. Or they
can gaze around at birds resting in trees, turtles passing
the time on logs and the occasional alligator basking in
30-minute boat tours cost $11 for adults and $10 for
seniors or children ages 6-12, and kids younger than 5
ride free. Extended 90-minute tours are available
Friday-Sunday and cost $25 for adults or $20 for seniors
and children ages 6-12.
boat tour, visitors wanting more time on the water can
explore kayak and canoe rentals in the park. Others can
visit the Spring Side Cafe, Paradise Treats, a visitor
center, gift shop or education center. Swimming is not
allowed at Silver Springs at this time.
1425 NE 58th Ave. in Ocala
a.m. until sundown daily
per person for park admission, children under 5 are free.
Boat tour tickets cost extra.
Restaurant, sweet treat shop, gift shop, handicap
accessible (except for glass bottom boats), amphitheater,
boat tours, pavilions, picnic tables, playground,
campground, kayak and canoe rental and launch site, hiking
trails, horse equestrian trail, gardens, museum, visitor
Glass bottom boat tours, birding, cycling, kayaking,
canoeing, camping, family gatherings, weddings, geocaching,
hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, walking tours
factor: The nearly 5,000-acre park is home to a
first-magnitude spring that forms the headwaters of the
Silver River. There are actually 30 springs that comprise
the Silver Springs group. The largest is Mammoth Spring,
which has two vents in the main pool.
abundant in the park. Visitors can find fish such as gar
and bluegill, several varieties of birds, turtles,
alligators and even non-native rhesus monkeys that still
live around the spring.
visit: Visitors interested in the standard 30-minute boat
ride can access that tour on any day of the week. Those
wishing to hop on an extended 90-minute ride can do so
Friday-Sunday. In addition, the Silver River Museum is
only open Saturday-Sunday and on holidays.
bring: Silver Springs guests likely won’t get wet during
their visit, but remember to pack water, a dry bag for
phone and keys if you plan on paddling and cash to tip
your boat tour guide. Well-behaved pets are welcome in the
state park, campground, picnic area and hiking trails.
Dogs (excluding service animals) are not permitted on
glass bottom boats or in any buildings.
What not to
bring: Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the park.
Visitors can also leave their swimsuits behind unless they
want to wear them while paddling.
If the line for the boat tour looks long, maybe stop by
the restaurant or Paradise Treats until a tour takes off
and the line dies down. Tickets purchased on site don’t
have a specific time printed and can be used on any tour.