After our times in The Keys – we headed back home to “North Caroline”. We were planning to boondock at a Cracker Barrel but B remembered the “Manatee Park” aka Blue Spring State Park was right around Orlando and a perfect stopping point ! The drive up Florida really is sooo long when you start all the way at the end of the Keys…so stopping near Orlando was perfect and this was so worth the $40!
We went online and they “happened to” have one spot left for the night we needed. (I love when that happens!). But this park gets *busy* so I would recommend booking your spot in advance, especially if you’re going to be in FL in January / February or the summer months.
When we came here at the start of our road trip in 2019 – we didn’t stay at the campground because we were stationed at a campground near the ocean for a month .
State / national parks are really our fave places to stay. We love being surrounded by nature, being set apart from the hustle and bustle, and often times there’s a lot of space between sites.
This is a great little state park with nice and private sites. They aren’t the most level sites but we made it work!
There are 50 camp sites (with water and electricity!) and the bathrooms are convenient and well-cleaned.
It’s just a short walk from the campground to the spring:
When the manatees are NOT here, apparently lots of people come to swim and kayak and scuba dive! But those activities aren’t allowed when the manatees come. (I guess nobody told this fish that. Can you believe he walked down those stairs?)
Manatees venture to this spring area from the St Johns River and beyond from mid-November through March to get the warmer water temperatures. The spring water is a constant 72 degrees. Interesting, huh? So *hundreds* of manatees come here for winter vacation and it’s just such a gift to see them! Look at the count the day we were there:
We counted over 40 on our walk on the boardwalk. In this first picture there’s at least 20!
We love when they come up close!
Mama and baby:
Make sure to read all the placards of information on the boardwalk. So many good science and history lessons for kids of all ages! There’s lots of places to picnic and a playground too. And get some pics with this cutie:
Also make sure to get your Junior Ranger books for all the kids to earn their pins and to direct your learning for the day. Here are the girls working hard on theirs:
When you stay in the campground you can wander wherever you want even after they’ve closed the gates to visitors – so it was great to be able to see this *gorgeous* sunset and not rush to leave! We actually were going to walk the 3 mile trail the next morning and check out the manatees again before the park opened but we didn’t 🙂
Warm air in January and catching a gorgeous sunset and manatee in the same pic – what else could I ask for !?
Of course we ended the night with s’mores and story telling.
This was such a great stop for us and we definitely recommend this park and experience!