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Silver Springs, Ocala - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

Silver Springs is just about an hour and a half north of Orlando up the 27 towards Ocala- a distance of about 90 miles.

It had been on our ‘to do’ list for quite some time and two years ago we finally made the time to go and visit it. It is a beautiful natural park of some 350acres that surround the head waters of the Silver River with it’s crystal clear Silver Spring-allegedly the largest artesian spring in the world.

Here they have the famous glass bottom boats which give an incredible view of the springs and the fish beneath. I was so excited on the day that we visited as I had never been on a glass bottom boat before and couldn’t imagine how they worked and what the view was like. Incredibly the first boats were taking visitors through the springs as early as the 1870’s and today the newer fleet of boats are all named after the native American warriors, such as Chief Osceola who fought in Florida.

The water in the spring is said to be 99. 8% pure. Certainly as you look down into it it is amazingly clear and you can easily see the fishes, turtles, alligators etc that swim beneath. The Springs are actually comprised of seven different formations and all have different names. As you gaze down into the waters you can see a backdrop of tiny fossilised shells from millions of years ago.

On board the boats your guide will tell you a little bit about the history of the place. How there used to be a Seminole village there and if you look down into the water there is the remains of a dug out canoe. I think what I found particularly thrilling was that the Springs were used for the early Tarzan films-the ones with Johnny Weissmuller, the famous Olympic swimmer that were shot in the 30’s and 40’s with Maureen O Hara as Jane. In all six films were made there and on one part of the cruise the captain allows the boat to hover over one part of the spring and when you look into the water it looks like remains from an ancient temple. They were actually part of the props from one of the films.

When Tarzan made his last foray into the jungle sounding his famous cry it was then left to Lloyd Bridges to take up the banner as more than 100 episodes of the popular programme ‘Sea Hunt’ were filmed there. I can only think ‘lucky people’ living and working in such a beautiful environment.

As well as the big attraction of the boats, there are beautiful walkways around the park with it’s lush vegetation and stunning flowers. There are also animal exhibits such as alligators, birds of prey, snakes etc with daily shows.

The Springs offer plenty of choices for dining at prices to suit all purses. There is also a playground for children.

Our only problem was not being able to fit everything in and I only wish we were closer as I would buy an annual pass.

Another huge drawback for wheelchair users is at the time I visited the boats were very inaccessible for wheelchair users. I was able to get aboard only because my husband lifted me on. I think we did 5 or 6 of the different journeys in all-and he was pretty exhausted at the end of it all and I felt like a sack of potatoes.

There is also a water park nearby called Wild Waters for which there is a separate payment. If you want to do both I would advise an overnight stay.

Whatever you decide-it is well worth a visit.

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