Exploring Blue Spring State Park

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Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty at Blue Spring State Park. Crystal-clear springs, wildlife wonders and endless adventures await.

Nestled in the heart of Orange City, Florida, Blue Spring State Park stands as a testament to the breathtaking beauty of nature. With its crystal-clear springs, lush landscapes and diverse wildlife, this enchanting destination offers visitors a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Blue Spring State Park is a scenic destination with a tranquil lake nestled among lush trees and adorned with delicate moss.
Photo Credit: Yayimages.

About Blue Spring State Park

Gold Rush prospector turned orange-grower Louis Thursby purchased Blue Spring in 1856. Thursby’s Blue Spring Landing was a hotbed of steamboat activity, shipping tourists and goods to Jacksonville and beyond. The Thursby house, built in 1872, still stands and was used for hosting steamboat passengers as they made their way up and down the river.

The Forgotten Mermaids was filmed at Blue Spring in 1971. This brought attention to the manatees and the importance of Blue Spring as a winter refuge. This greatly influenced the state’s decision to purchase the land in 1972.

Recognizing the ecological importance of the spring and its surroundings, the state has actively engaged in conservation efforts to preserve the natural beauty and biodiversity of Blue Spring State Park. The park is particularly known for its role in manatee conservation, providing a crucial winter habitat for these gentle giants.

Just like Green Lakes State Park, Watkins Glen and Muskegon State Park provide a haven for outdoor lovers, Blue Spring State Park does as well. The entire family will enjoy all of the diverse activities at this park. If you’re on the hunt for amazing waterfalls, be sure to visit Taughannock Falls State Park.

Before you go, just realize that winter months mean manatee season. Because of this, Blue Spring State Park is closed to all water activities. This includes swimming, snorkeling, diving, tubing, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. 

I’ve visited Blue Springs since I was a child! I used to love spending all day there with my family. The water is so fresh and cold! If you’re lucky, you’ll see manatees swimming along the docks. Snorkeling opens up an entire world under the surface!

— Mandy, Mandy Brooke
A group of manatees swimming in the crystal clear waters of Blue Spring State Park.
Photo Credit: Yayimages.
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Things to do at Blue Spring State Park

Blue Springs State Park offers a variety of activities for nature enthusiasts. Here’s a list of things to do during your visit:

Manatee watching

Witness the awe-inspiring sight of gentle manatees in the winter months as they seek refuge in the warm waters of Blue Spring. The park’s designated viewing areas offer a close-up look at these magnificent creatures.


Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear spring waters during the warmer months. The designated swimming area provides a relaxing and picturesque setting for a leisurely swim. If visiting in the summer months, don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Kayaking and canoeing

Explore the scenic St. Johns River by renting a kayak or canoe. Paddle through the winding waterways and experience the park’s natural beauty from a unique perspective.

Hiking trails

Embark on the park’s well-maintained hiking trails, each offering a chance to immerse yourself in the lush vegetation and observe native wildlife. The Pine Island Trail is a 3.6-mile hike, one way, providing a glimpse of Florida’s diverse ecosystems. If you’re looking for some amazing hikes, visit one of these national parks in Utah.

Wildlife viewing

Bring your binoculars and camera to spot a variety of wildlife. The park is home to a range of bird species, including herons, egrets and ospreys. Keep an eye out for turtles, deer and other critters along the trails.


Enjoy a picnic in one of the designated areas surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. Pack a lunch and savor your meal in the shade of towering trees or near the tranquil waters.

Scuba diving

Blue Spring is a popular destination for scuba divers. If you’re certified, explore the underwater world of the spring, where you’ll encounter limestone caves, fish and other fascinating features.


Capture the natural beauty of Blue Springs State Park through photography. The vibrant colors, wildlife and scenic landscapes offer endless opportunities for stunning shots.


Extend your stay by camping in the park’s designated camping area. Wake up surrounded by nature and embark on early morning hikes or simply enjoy the serenity of the campsite.

A bird standing on a post in the tranquil waters of Blue Spring State Park.
Photo Credit: Yayimages.

Things to do near Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park is situated in a region rich with natural beauty and recreational opportunities. If you’re planning a visit to Blue Spring State Park, here are some nearby attractions and activities to enhance your experience:

St. Johns River cruises

Consider taking a scenic boat cruise along the St. Johns River. Various tour operators offer guided excursions that showcase the river’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Keep an eye out for manatees, dolphins and a variety of bird species.

De Leon Springs State Park

A short drive away, De Leon Springs State Park offers additional outdoor activities such as swimming, canoeing and hiking. The park is also known for its historic Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where you can cook your own pancakes at your table.

Blue Spring Manatee festival

If you’re visiting during the winter months, don’t miss the annual Blue Spring Manatee Festival. Held in nearby Orange City, this event celebrates the seasonal arrival of manatees to the warmer waters of Blue Spring.

Hontoon Island State Park

Accessible by boat, Hontoon Island State Park is a peaceful island retreat along the St. Johns River. Explore nature trails, observe wildlife and enjoy a quiet picnic in this pristine natural setting.

Historic Downtown DeLand

Take a short drive to DeLand and explore its historic downtown area. Wander through charming streets lined with shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes. DeLand is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture.

Wekiva Springs State Park

For more outdoor adventures, head to Wekiva Springs State Park. This park offers opportunities for hiking, canoeing and wildlife viewing. The crystal-clear spring is a popular spot for swimming and cooling off on a hot day.

Casselberry art and music in the park

Check the local events calendar to see if there are any festivals or events happening in nearby towns. Casselberry, for example, hosts art and music in park events that showcase local artists and musicians.

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Located in Sanford, the Central Florida Zoo is a fun family-friendly attraction. It features a variety of animals, botanical gardens and interactive exhibits.

Daytona Beach

If you’re willing to take a slightly longer drive, Daytona Beach offers sun, sand and a vibrant beach atmosphere. It’s a great option for a day trip to experience the iconic Florida coastline.

These nearby attractions complement the natural beauty of Blue Spring State Park. They provide a well-rounded experience for visitors seeking outdoor adventures, cultural exploration and relaxation.

Blue Spring State Park is a haven for nature lovers. From the mesmerizing blue springs to the diverse animals that call this park home. Every visit is a chance to connect with the wonders of the natural world. So, pack your sense of adventure and embark on a journey to Blue Spring State Park.

Lara is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Personal Trainer. She is also a photographer and recipe developer and has a food and travel blog, Lara Clevenger. She shares easy recipes that are mostly low-carb, along with some bowling and travel adventures. Whether you’re cooking with an air fryer, Blackstone or Instant Pot, she has you covered with healthy recipes.

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