State Parks Near Orlando: Blue Springs
We love Florida’s theme parks, but the real adventure begins when you step outside the parks and explore the Great Outdoors in one of the country’s wildest habitats.
If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to spend a day, there is nothing better than a visit to one of our impressive state parks near Orlando.
With more than 150 state parks in the Sunshine State, there are plenty to choose from. Blue Springs State Park in Orange City is not only beautiful, it’s only about an hour drive from the Disney area.
Florida’s springs are truly magical. The water is so clear and aquamarine it looks surreal, yet these are completely natural wonders. The lush foliage makes you feel like you’re deep in the heart of a jungle. Surveying the wildlife, from alligators to manatees, is like taking a glimpse into our prehistoric past.
Manatee Spotting at Blue Springs
Blue Springs is a tourist hot spot during manatee season, which runs from mid-November through mid-March. These gentle giants are especially visible during the colder months when they flock to Florida in search of warmer waters. At 72 degrees year-round, the springs might feel cold to us, but they’re perfect for these adorable animals.
If you want to see manatees up close, Blue Springs State Park is one of the best places to do it without having to get wet. If you want a guided encounter, you can swim with the manatees in a lovely little town about 90 miles from Walt Disney World called Crystal River.
Have Fun Swimming & Tubing
Swimming and tubing are two of the park’s most popular activities in the summer months. You can take your own gear, or you can rent tubes, mask & snorkel and fins from the concession store.
During the winter months, Blue Springs is a designated manatee refuge when swimming and water activities are not permitted.
Scuba Diving in Blue Springs is permitted for certified divers. Proof of certification is required.
If you’re visiting in the near future, this park did sustain damage during Hurricane Irma, so swimming is temporarily prohibited until repairs are finished. Kayaks and canoes are also very limited. We’ll update this post when Blue Springs is back to normal operation.
Water Activities at Blue Springs
During the summer months you can kayak and canoe Blue Spring Run and the St Johns River. Take your own equipment or use St John’s River Cruise for kayak and canoe rentals.
Hiking & Walking Blue Springs
For those not wanting to get wet, there are lots of boardwalks and scenic overlooks that provide perfect vantage points. Walking and hiking trails criss cross the park and offer the perfect way to stroll through natural beauty.
When you work up an appetite exploring, you can order lunch from the concession stand, or you can pack a picnic. There are plenty of picnic areas and also covered pavilions.
Cruise The Longest River in Florida
Enjoy a serene and scenic narrated two-hour boat tour with St. Johns River Cruises. See wildlife in natural surroundings and learn all about the river history and eco system from knowledgable guides. There are frequent stops for photographs and critter encounters. The tours run daily from 10am to 1pm.
Contact St John’s River Cruises (currently operating on a limited schedule after the hurricane). Call (407) 330-1612 or (386) 917-0724 for updates. Check Groupon too, there are sometimes offers for cruises.
Hop on a Segway
St John’s River Cruises also offer Guided Segway Tours. These tours last up to 2 hours and take you up close and personal with nature and offer plenty of photo ops. It takes 10 minutes to learn how to ride a Segway. You’ll be given tuition prior to the tour.
Brush up on History
Thursby House is a two story wooden house built in 1872 by settler Louis P. Thursby. The house has been restored and showcases how it looked in 1875 to 1887. Thursby House is on the US National Register of Historic Places.
Where to Find Blue Springs
Blue Springs State Park is located at 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to sundown, but it does often reach capacity during peak seasons. The cost of admission is only $6 per vehicle (up to eight people).
Don’t overlook this state park near Orlando when you’re planning your vacation. Blue Springs might even end up being your favorite part of your whole trip!