Manatees at Blue Spring State Park

With crystal-clear waters and warm temperatures, Blue Spring State Park attracts the largest concentration of manatees during the winter months.

Day Trip From Orlando to Blue Spring State Park

I have lived in Florida for 20 years and can’t believe I’ve never been to see the Manatees. 

And for some reason, this year is unseasonably cold. That means that the manatees are out at Blue Spring State Park in full force.

A green manatee swimming in the water.

I know we should have waited to go until it was colder, but I’m happy we got to see a few anyway.

This was the notice yesterday, 736, with a 1-3 hour wait just to get in.

Blue spring state park new year's eve break.

When we were there last week, there were only 191.

Manatee county manatee county manatee county manatee county manatee county manatee county manatee county manate.

You can follow along on their Facebook page.

Of course, Blue Spring State Park isn’t the only place where you can view the sea cows.

Kings Bay in Citrus County is located near the Gulf of Mexico and is only one of the natural springs where the manatee swims. 

Three Sisters Springs is also located on the west coast of Florida and is a great way to view the endangered species.

While manatees are considered wild animals, they are very gentle creatures.

Manatee season runs from November through March when it gets somewhat cold in Florida.

They migrate to the warm water and shallow waters.

Blue Spring State Park, located in Orange City, Florida, is not to be confused with Blue Springs State Park in Alabama.

It is the perfect destination to view these gentle giants in their natural habitat. 

With its crystal-clear waters and warm temperatures, the park attracts the largest concentration of manatees during the winter months, making it the ideal place for manatee encounters. 


  • Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, offers a unique opportunity to see the manatees in their natural habitat.
  • During the winter months, the State Park attracts a large number of manatees, making it the best time to visit for a manatee encounter.
  • The park offers various activities such as swimming, tubing, diving, and canoeing/kayaking.
  • Visitors can also camp or stay in cabins overnight to fully immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty.
  • Blue Spring State Park is part of ongoing wildlife conservation efforts and is supported by organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Blue spring state park manatees.

Blue Spring State Park: A Natural Oasis in Orange City

Located in Orange City, Florida, Blue Spring State Park is a natural oasis that offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of Florida’s natural environment. 

The park is home to one of the largest springs in the state, which feeds into the St. Johns River.

Managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, It is designated as a manatee refuge, providing a safe haven for these gentle sea creatures. 

The park’s crystal-clear waters and diverse wildlife make it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and conservationists alike.

Blue Spring State Park is supported by various organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Green water in a pond surrounded by trees.

These entities work collaboratively to protect and preserve the park’s natural resources and ensure the continued well-being of the local ecosystem.

Viewing Manatees: An Unforgettable Experience

One of the main attractions is the opportunity to view the Blue Spring and the manatees that inhabit the spring water.

During the winter months, Blue Spring becomes the winter home for hundreds of manatees. Making it the unofficial manatee capital of the world.

Visitors can observe these gentle giants from multiple viewing platforms along the boardwalk.

A group of people standing on a wooden boardwalk.

Witness their behavior in their natural environment.

The park offers a unique opportunity to witness the convergence of man and nature, creating an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

We were able to witness a manatee that had a tracking device attached to its tail.

A manatee is swimming in the water near a tree.

Sadly, we also saw one that had been hit by boat propellers.

A large MANATEE swimming in a clear body of water.

Activities at Blue Spring State Park

During the winter months, there are no water activities allowed.

You can, however, take boat tours, and private tours through Florida’s waterways where you will get an informative guided tour.

The entrance to a park with trees and a sign.

Additionally, the tour operators will take you on a scenic cruise where you will learn fun facts about the wild manatees including the first manatee.

Swimming, Tubing, and Diving

While swimming with manatees is not allowed at Blue Spring State Park, visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim in the beautiful spring during the summer months.

A sign that reads black city on nocturnal.

Furthermore, the water temperatures at Blue Spring remain a constant 73 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, providing a cool respite on hot Florida days.

A group of people standing on a bridge over a body of water.

Tubing is another popular activity, allowing visitors to leisurely float down the spring and take in the scenic surroundings.

A group of people are floating down a river in rafts at Blue Spring State Park.

For certified divers, Blue Spring offers the opportunity for diving adventures in its deep cave system.

Obviously, divers must be prepared with appropriate snorkel gear, including wet suits, to ensure their safety and enjoyment.

Additionally, if you want to swim with Manatees, Crystal River Florida is the place to go.

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to see the Crystal River Manatees. 

There you will find manatee swim tours. Swimming with the manatees is an experience of a lifetime and is on my bucket list.


Exploring the State Park by canoe or kayak is a popular activity for visitors looking to get up close and personal with the park’s natural beauty.

Two people paddling kayaks in the water near a dock.

The park offers canoe and kayak rentals, allowing visitors to paddle along the Blue Spring Run and the scenic St. Johns River.

Kayaks provide a quiet and peaceful way to navigate the waterways and offer the chance to spot wildlife.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, Blue Spring State Park offers a memorable and immersive experience for all.

A group of people kayaking on a lake.

Cabins and Camping Information

Blue Spring State Park offers a range of overnight accommodations for outdoor enthusiasts, including campgrounds and cabins.

The park features spacious and well-equipped campgrounds with amenities such as electric hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature while still enjoying modern conveniences.

For those seeking a more comfortable camping experience, cabins are available for rent, providing a cozy and rustic retreat amidst the park’s natural beauty.

The cabin accommodations allow guests to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep while being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the great outdoors.

Whether you prefer to sleep under the stars in your own tent or in a comfortable cabin, Blue Spring State Park offers a variety of options for overnight stays.

Camping and staying in cabins provide the perfect opportunity to fully experience the beauty of the park and make lasting memories.

Blue Spring State Park Regional History

The region surrounding the State Park is steeped in history, with a legacy that spans thousands of years.

This area has witnessed the presence of Native American tribes and the influence of European settlers, leaving behind a rich cultural tapestry that continues to fascinate visitors to this day.

Blue Spring itself holds deep significance for Native American tribes who inhabited the region, considering it a sacred place and relying on its resources for their survival.

The big freeze the thursey house and tour.

The spring served as a vital water source and offered nourishment through the abundant fish and wildlife that called it home.

As European settlers established homes in the area, Blue Spring became a popular destination for recreation and relaxation.

The thursby house at blue springs.

Its pristine beauty, crystal-clear waters, and abundant wildlife captivated the hearts of those seeking solace and serenity.

Today, visitors can explore the fascinating history of the region through interpretive signs and exhibits positioned throughout the park.

A white house in the middle of a grassy field.

These displays provide a glimpse into the past.

Shedding light on the experiences of Native American tribes and the resilience of the European settlers who sought a new life in this untamed land.

By immersing themselves in the park’s history, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds them and the importance of preserving these lands for future generations.

Firefly Season – A  Lesser-Known Attraction

One of the lesser-known attractions at Blue Spring State Park is the mesmerizing firefly season.

During certain times of the year, the park comes alive with the magical glow of synchronous fireflies.

These unique insects put on a natural light show as they synchronize their flashing patterns, creating a breathtaking display.

The best place to witness this phenomenon is along the creekside trail.

As the sun sets and darkness descends, the fireflies emerge, illuminating the night with their enchanting glow.

Fireflies at Blue Spring State Park.

Walking along the creekside trail, visitors can experience the ethereal beauty of the synchronized fireflies in their natural habitat.

Firefly season at Blue Spring State Park is a truly awe-inspiring experience that should not be missed.

Witnessing the mesmerizing light show of the synchronous fireflies is a rare opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories.

So, be sure to visit the park during firefly season and immerse yourself in this captivating natural phenomenon.

Are There Amenities Available?

Blue Spring State Park offers a range of amenities to enhance your visit.

These include picnic areas, restrooms, hiking trails, a playground, and a concession stand.

There is also a visitor center where you can obtain maps, ask questions, and learn more about the park’s history and wildlife.

Two people standing next to a statue of a dolphin.

What are the rules and regulations?

These include:

  1. All visitors must stay on designated trails and paths.
  2. Swimming with manatees is not permitted, as it can disrupt their natural behavior.
  3. Pets must be kept on a leash and are only allowed in designated areas.
  4. Feeding wildlife is strictly prohibited.
  5. Camping and picnicking are only allowed in designated areas.

Can I make reservations for Camping?

Yes, reservations can be made for camping. It is recommended to make your reservation in advance, especially during peak season, to ensure availability.

You can make reservations online or by contacting the park directly. Day visitors do not require reservations.

What are The Entrance Fees?

Yes, there is an entrance fee for vehicles entering the State Park. The fee is per vehicle and is valid for the entire day.

The current fee is $6 per vehicle for up to eight people.

A sign that says welcome to park admission fees.

There are signs along the waiting line that you can scan with your phone and pay ahead of time.

A woman walking down a street with a qr code sign.

However, I had no cell or internet service! 🙁

I should have purchased it before we left. Not that we were gonna get in any faster.

The blue springs state park sign is in front of an orange cone.

Additional fees may apply for camping and other activities.

Please check the park’s official website for the most up-to-date information on fees.

Where is Blue Spring State Park?

Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City, Florida. It is approximately a one-hour drive from Orlando.

Situated in Central Florida, the park offers a convenient escape into nature for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of Orange City.

To find your way to Blue Spring State Park, you can follow the directions provided on the park’s official website or rely on your GPS navigation system.

The park’s address is 2100 W French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763.

When to Visit Blue Spring State Park for Manatees

The best time to visit for a chance to see manatees is during the winter months, specifically from November to March. 

This is when the park becomes a winter refuge for hundreds of manatees seeking warmer waters.

As the temperatures drop, the manatees gather at Blue Spring to take advantage of its constant 73-degree waters. 

Therefore, the colder the weather, the more manatees you are likely to see. 

To maximize your chances of spotting these gentle giants, it is recommended to visit the State Park on a cooler day during the winter season.

Are Pets Allowed at Blue Spring State Park?

Blue Spring State Park is a pet-friendly destination that welcomes visitors to explore its natural beauty with their furry companions. 

However, pet owners need to familiarize themselves with the park’s rules and regulations to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

Pets must be kept on a leash at all times while in the park. 

This not only ensures the safety of your pet but also helps protect the wildlife and other park visitors. 

So, remember to bring your leashed pet along and soak in the scenic beauty of the park together!


Can I swim with manatees at Blue Spring State Park?

No, swimming with manatees is not allowed at Blue Spring State Park.

However, you can observe them from viewing platforms along the boardwalk.

What is the best time to visit to see manatees?

The best time to see manatees at Blue Spring State Park is during the winter months. Specifically from November to March.

What activities can I do at Blue Spring State Park?

The park offers a range of activities such as swimming, tubing, diving, canoeing, kayaking, and camping.

Overall, you can also enjoy hiking and wildlife viewing.

Can I bring my pet with me?

Yes, leashed pets are allowed in designated areas of the park.

Are there overnight accommodations available at Blue Spring State Park?

Yes, Blue Spring State Park provides campgrounds and cabins for overnight stays.

The campgrounds offer amenities such as electric hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings.

The cabins provide a cozy retreat in the park’s natural surroundings.

What amenities are available at Blue Spring State Park?

Amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, a gift shop, and a visitor center with exhibits and information.

There are also canoe and kayak rentals available for exploring the park’s waterways.

Interacting with Wildlife

Yes, it is important to follow guidelines for interacting with wildlife.

Visitors are advised to observe wildlife from a safe distance and avoid feeding or approaching them.

Respecting the park’s wildlife helps to maintain a harmonious balance between humans and nature.

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Manatees at blue spring state park.

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