ATTRACTION: Manatee watching.
WHERE: Blue Springs State Park, 2100 west French Avenue, Orange City, Florida.
AGE RESTRICTIONS: None.
PRICE: $5 with children under 6 free.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: State Parks are open from 8 a.m. to sunset every day of the year. Pets are welcome in Florida State Parks in designated areas if they are kept on a 6-foot, hand-held leash and are well-behaved. Service animals are welcome in all parks in all areas. For Information about Blue Spring State Park, please call 386-775-3663.
Just north of Orlando, the cool waters of Blue Springs not only serve as an important refuge for the West Indian Manatee, but visitors to the springs can partake in a large number of outdoor activities, such as camping, swimming and boating.
Like the snowbirds from the north, the endangered West Indian Manatee also claim Central Florida as their winter vacation home. As cooler temperatures cause a drop in the water temperatures of the ocean and rivers, the constant year-round 72 degrees of Blue Springs creates a pleasant refuge for these gentle giants. Usually beginning their journey from the St. John's River to the Springs in November, the manatee will stay until sometime in March, when the warmer spring temperatures return. Best viewing of the manatee is usually in December through February, morning and late afternoon.
During the months that the manatee are at the springs, visitors to the park can learn more about them through the ranger interpretive programs that are offered daily. Viewing of this endangered mammal can be easily accomplished through the park's wheelchair accessible observation platform and wooden walkways that run the distance from the spring boil to the river.