Updated: Aug 18
FUN in Blue Springs State Park – Orange City Edition, The Spring You Want To Visit
But first… Why should we go there? So many Springs in Florida... some close by... Let me tell you: Located 45 minutes North of Orlando, and the farthest east Spring, located in Volusia County, it is really an outlet for the aquifer. The pressure below the aquifer releases at a rate of 100 million gallons each day right here *yes,100 million gallons a day. Being the largest Spring in the St. Johns River, is not even the most interesting thing about it, when Blue Spring is known as a manatee refuge. In cooler months it closes down while manatees gather here (the trails are open, not the Spring itself). Staying 72 degrees year-round, this Spring attracts the gentle creatures that come to be nourished by the clean spring water and native plants growing all around.
Come walk along the extra-wide boardwalk lining the .4-mile-long spring run, and peer down, seeing all kinds of fish and wildlife. See it for yourself to believe the natural beauty. The river dead ends into a wooded cove where you can see down the crevice of the 120-foot-deep limestone shelves, into the spring head. Many people snorkel or even scuba dive for a closer look. This incredible feature makes this significant spot noteworthy.
~~ The deck, where all the traffic is...
While Blue Springs are the closest Spring to our home, it took us a while to make our way there. I know visitors can not go into the Springs while manatees are present, and that they’ve been doing some construction to reconstruct and stabilize designated shoreline areas of the Run, and repair damaged banks. Also, as this is a manatee release area for neighboring rescues, they are building a better zone for the crew. It is difficult to carry a 1200 lb. manatee with a team of 8 down these slippery banks, and the walkway there is not sufficient. This is one of the most geologically interesting locations as well as picturesque. Construction and closings were a deterrent to me. As much as I wanted to see I wanted it to be all done with the improvements... Do you ever over think something you want to do and talk yourself out of it? Yeah, please don't.
I finally decided to JUST GO (click for link helping you do this too!) and lucky for me a few of my girlfriends were readily available. One thing about being a teacher, as the summer is ending I feel like I owe it to myself to do a few bucket list items. Luckily, I have some amazing teacher friends in the same boat! I made a couple quick random texts, "Hey do you feel like going to the Springs today?" And gratefully, I got an immediate taker :-)
So while two of us drove up the highway starting our 90 minute ride with Nirvana, our 3rd girlfriend was busy booking a camping spot and getting her 4 year old into the camper to drive up. She confessed Blue Spring is her favorite Spring and she just wanted to join us on the adventure! YIPEEEE!! *This girlfriend spends half of her time in her camper at any State Parks with space. She has an art to booking cancellations and heading out in a moments notice. As a mom who loves the environment and the science of our ecosystem, she couldn't resist!
I did call before we hit the road and was told that the park hits capacity around 10 am on weekdays. We arrived just after noon (taking a chance, this was a last-minute choice after all), and they were already full to capacity. I explained my girlfriend had a camping site, but they said check out for sites is 1:00, so they would still have campers on the lot. Sadly, we drove away and found a nearby park to eat our picnic lunch. It wasn't so bad I knew we'd get in soon, and in the meantime, we could catch up a little. I noticed after we arrived at the little park several other cars came in also. I think we were all waiting.
An hour later we decided to try, so we returned and were ushered right in.
*Insert happy dance*
We first walked the boardwalk along the many look out points. The construction seemed to be paused for the day, yet all of the vehicles and materials were waiting the workers. The Spring itself lays in a wooded native Florida habitat surrounded by nothing but nature. The air feels clean, and well filtered by all of the vegetation. On the hot and humid day we were there, the shaded walkways felt good, and cold water looked inviting. We decided to walk the short hike first and then get in. As we walked, we wondered the history and significance of this particular Spring which seemed unique. We came across several displays posting facts and history which satisfied all of our questions, giving us sincere appreciation for the land beneath us.
The Thursby Home (above, bottom right) is hard to miss and sits between the parking lots and the trail. Looking there it is worth checking out. It was built for the owners who turned the acreage into a citrus orchard. Displays in the house tell the history of the home and area. Really well done. Only the first floor is open and there's a handicap ramp in the back for easy access. Suitable for all ages. Free with admission to the park. A quick glimpse into the historical relevance, providing the story of the land.
It was HOT. Sticky. Like nasty hot weather as the day continued. We popped into the gift shop for something cold to drink and to my surprise, (I’ve seen a lot of gift shops) this was a wonderous find. From the outside a country shack. Inside, all the comforts needed! Tee shirts, necklaces, magnets, post cards, handmade items, ICE CREAAAAM, and so much more. A gem of a store with unexpectedly reasonable prices and a great selection. Super cute and practical items. I purchased a water bag, which was cheaper than I've seen in other stores. I also bought a little otter stuffy (after hearing about the otter family that lives at the Springs) I love otters.
By the time we left the air-conditioned shop, our friend was pulling up in her camper across the park. We drove on over to meet her and waved her back into the spot. Like a boss she parked the 33-foot camper, hopped out, hooked up and set camp in 10 minutes flat.
We all changed into bathing suits, had a little *cheers* with little wine glasses and ran over to the Spring. Right then, the sky opened up, dumping buckets of rain, crashing thunder, cracking lightning. We walked along, looking over at the water from the viewpoint. People were leaving in droves. The Spring quickly cleared of people. We shrugged knowing we were going to get wet in the water anyway, so we waited out the lightning and jumped in. Florida weather often does this weird thing where the sky is blue to the left and it is pouring on your right... we were experiencing this quick passing storm and refusing to let it stop our fun. Lightning can be problematic, so we were holding back!
Iris, enjoying our dose of adventure for the day found a new sword!
We found the courage to jump into the cold water in the rain, and float back down the currant.
We floated back to the beginning just as the sky proved to us there was more storm coming. The brief clearing cooled us off and settled out urge to be immersed in the aquifer excess. We stood under the porch of the gift shop waiting to see what the weather would do. We watched some birds playing. We enjoyed the fat squirrel doing tricks. We eventually went back over to the camper and snacked, laughed and enjoyed the rainstorm in a dry place with a good view. One thing I advise, always travel in good company! Sharing the moment adds to the magic.
COSTS: It’s $6 per vehicle to enter the park. If you bring floaties, they can them blow up for $1. We brought our own floats, already full and saved! You could also rent an inner tube from the park for $5/hour and $2.50 per hour after that. Large lockers available for $3 (floats/rafts larger than 6'x6' are not allowed)
Get there early. As early as you can, but also, you can always go back when it clears out if you aren't quick enough.
The park opens at 8:00 a.m, and closes at sundown. 365 days a year! If you are camping there, you can stay and float all night if you like!
Water shoes may come in handy if you don't like rocky bottoms, that are sometimes slippery and have fish swishing through.
Take a self-guided tour inside the historic Thursby house. It was built during the 1870s and will just give you a bit of perspective.
Swimming is closed for manatee season which is November 15 - March 31.
Kayaking and Canoeing are another way to appreciate the water. Bring your own or rent some. Paddle boards are also great!
The St. Johns River Cruise is a two-hour narrated boat tour you can take, which departs right by the kayaks.
Bring a snorkel and goggles (especially for the kids) because the underwater view is amazing!
Bring your Go-Pro or underwater camera. Relive the beauty later. Or, put your cell phone in a waterproof case. Cases can be purchased in the gift shop reasonably priced.
But it's raining!!! 💦💦💦💦💦💦💦
Well, this is Florida - a subtropical/ tropical climate and it's going to rain.
Make the most of it. Be careful with thunder and lightning, and be especially careful when driving but don't let weather in general be a reason NOT to do something. Hal of the time the weather reports are wrong, and the other half they are misleading. Click here for things to do when it rains on your vacation!
There are other Blue Springs, two others to be exact. This one is in Volusia County - Volusia County is part of the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach metropolitan statistical area and is also part of the larger Orlando–Deltona–Daytona Beach combined statistical area. In a location that has access to many tourist hot spots, this little hideaway serves for a pit stop in nature.Volusia County is part of the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach metropolitan statistical area, and is also part of the larger Orlando–Deltona–Daytona Beach combined statistical area. In a location that has access to many tourist hot spots, this little hideaway serves for a pit stop in nature.
For additional information regarding activities, admission and hours of operation, visit the official Blue Spring State Park's website.
Blue Spring State Park
2100 W French Ave
Orange City, FL 32763-9501
Affordability meter: 10/10
On a scale of 1-10 how affordable is this day?
Blue Springs is a State Park, you will pay by the car, and if you have a State Park Pass PURCHASED HERE and use it on a monthly basis, it will pay for itself many times over.
This day is extremely affordable with the only variables being distance/ gas to get there and what's in your picnic basket. The Value vs. the cost of the day greatly lean toward value! This is easy on your budget and good for your being. A day of floating in a natural spring out in nature? Priceless = good for the soul ✔
Wherever your travels take you, I wish you good music and laughter on the drive there.
While my kids are typically my travel companions, this mama's day out hit the spot!
It turned out to be EXACTLY what we all needed.
A day outside has so many benefits, and it just good for your mind, and soul.
Thank you for sharing the journey with me, I welcome your stories too, and would love for you to share your experiences below. Mz. Savvy
A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.
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My goal is to make traveling easier for families and cut down on the planning process. 💜
I specialize in helping families spend more time enjoying their quality time together and less time having to figure it all out. My four children have been my test subjects of how to plan a great family adventure for many years and now that my youngest is 18, many of my travels are work related, or grandma related! As time has changed, I've evolved but I still LOVE TO TRAVEL, explore, wander, visit, discover, learn and love. If nature is there, I can find my happy place. I use the term single not to emphasize my status but to signify that if I can manage some family fun on a limited teacher's salary with four children, anyone can do it. I am just very intentional in how I spend my time and earnings. I typically seek out budget friendly ways to enjoy my time, but will occasionally splurge for the right reasons :-)
God Bless every road you travel on. xo
If you would like to visit another Spring in the area, check out Alexander Springs, in Altoona,, about 40 minutes West of Blue Spring Orange City.
While you are in the area enjoying all of the nature, check out the Best Botanical Gardens! If you have kids, they will love the experience of the Nature Playgrounds that are unlike anything else.