Silver Springs Nature Park
5656 East Silver Springs Boulevard, Silver Springs, FL, USA
www.trivago.co.uk/silver-spr… - (352) 236-2121
Silver Springs Nature Park Reviews
Apr 29, 2007
A few days before my second visit to Florida friends told me about Silver Springs, of which I had never heard of before, and highly recommended to go and see it. Which I did.
I liked it and around ten years later came back to see it again with my family.
Around 90 miles north of Orlando, just of Ocala, situated on Highway 40, that leads from Ocala to Daytona Beach. Right through the Ocala National Forest which is, with its 383.573 acres of land, well worth a visit itself.
The park itself :
The Silver Springs Nature Theme Park measures a proud 350 acres of land and surrounds the headwaters of the Silver River which contain one of the largest artesian spring formations in the world.
You can see the springs if you take a trip on a glass-bottom boat, the water is crystal-clear. Around the springs a large theme park, including a zoo with mostly local animals, a wildlife preserve, several shows about the animals and some rides has developed over the years.
The exhibits are integrated into the original swamp-scenario of the area and you will be presented with an experience that sometimes seems like a trip back in time - to when this part of Florida was still wild and un-inhabited and left in it's natural beauty.
When you enter the park you will find yourself in front of the "Court the Flags", which is a round plot with the American flag, the flag of the state of Florida and the Marion county flag.
There are several sign-posts here and you'll have to decide what to do first.
Right in front of you is the pier for the glass bottom boats which we kept for later, as we arrived at sharp ten o'clock in the morning when the park opens up for the day.
Everybody seems to want to go to the boats straight away, so we let them all to go first and started to wander around peacefully - and nearly alone.
First we will turn to the right and visit the "Panther prowl".
In this enclosure you can observe some big cat's. One of them is a Florida panther that is very rare and only a handful of them still exist.
So let's cross the wooden bridge and go straight to the "Big Gator Lagoon" :
The alligators in the park are some of the biggest that can be found in Florida and measure up to 13 feet. They live in a cypress swamp that measures 1 acre and you can just walk through - on an elevated boardwalk, where you are far out of their reach.
Now we will turn our attention to the " Ross Allen Island"
What we will find here is - in big parts - a living nightmare for me.
There are all kinds of creepy-crawlies, like a variety of native snakes, turtles ( I don't mind them though) and spiders. Arrgh !
I don't know what it is, that always draws my attention to reptiles and spiders as soon as I enter a zoo, as I am terrified of them.
To look at them always holds a strange kind of fascination for me - knowing to be safe with a thick dividing glass in between me and them, they seem to be beautiful and still yet so scary.
So while we are here and I have already gone a bit pale under my Florida sun-tan we can straight go and see the "Creature Feature Show"
Here we will be presented with lots of little friends of mine like scorpions, spiders and giant hissing cockroaches.
The later ones originally come from Madagascar and can be up to 3 inches long and make some strange hissing noises when they get scared. Interesting to hear that some people hold this little beauties as pets...
While we are at it we can also straight got to the "Non-venomous Snake Show"
If you have ever felt the urge to touch and feel a snake then you are in the right place here.
Well, I haven't...
I found it interesting to listen to what they had to tell about the snakes, how they live and what an important role they play in controlling rodents.
To be honest, as impressed as I was, I'd rather get a cat - or a mouse-trap
The boats trip :
The boats look very flat and, once inside, you will sit on benches around the sides of the boat, so that you can view through the glass floor.
You have a very good sight through the glass and maybe I should mention at this point, that this kind of boat was invented here in Silver Springs by Hullam Jones in 1878, when the springs became a really popular place to visit.
Back then it was a glass viewing box that was installed on the bottom of a canoe.
Today it is a bit more comfortable and you have a nice plastic seat and a roof over your head which will shelter you from the weather - pouring rain or scorching sun.
You can see the 7 major spring formations at the headwaters.
The water is totally clear and it is as deep as 80 ft and what you see is truly spectacular.
You will be able to see dozens of species of fish, but also different kinds of turtles, shrimps, crawfish, as well as fossilized shells that are many millions of years old. The captain of the boat will point them out to you.
It is a truly fascinating trip and I have never - neither before or after - experienced anything like it.
There is still much more than this to see in the park and this were just the highlights for us. There are enough restaurants in the park and the food in the pizzeria was pretty decent. All in all we had a great day out that we all enjoyed and I can really recommend a visit.After the buzz in Orlando we loved to see a huge theme park with an atmosphere that is so much more relaxed.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!