Tag Archives: springs

Florida has old stuff too: De Leon Springs

After writing my last blog post: Florida has old stuff too, I realized I’ve yet to share many of the historical places I’ve explored throughout the sunshine state, so here it goes, my ‘Florida has old stuff’ series begins.


Welcome to De Leon Springs State Park. Believed to be the where Ponce de Leon discovered the Fountain of Youth, but in reality was just a marketing ploy to bring tourists to the area. The name was even changed from Spring Garden to De Leon Springs to add to the hype.


By the late 1800’s tourists were traveling to the springs by railroad and steamboat believing in the anti-aging and healing properties of the waters.


I even gave it a go. It obviously worked since the Google Arts & Culture app matched me with a portrait of a baby.


De Leon Springs was also home to the first water-powered sugar mill. This structure is now the popular Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House which features a cook-your-own pancake griddle at each table. The restaurant is located in a replica of the original 1830’s mill which was destroyed by the Seminoles in 1835.


Swimming, canoeing, fishing and hiking bring people to this area now.


Now it’s your turn to test out the healing and anti-aging properties of these waters. Will you too soon resemble a baby from the 17th century?

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Filed under Florida, Like a Local, Travel

The Great Florida Manatee Migration of 2018

Last week Florida experienced winter for the first time in 4 years, at least that’s what the news was reporting.

I’m sure you probably saw the memes floating around social media: Floridians can handle category 4 hurricanes, but not winter. But hey, human beings weren’t the only ones struggling. Iguanas were literally falling from trees it was so cold, and manatees were making their way to warmer waters to get some cuddle time in.




Blue Spring State Park is a designated manatee refuge. When temperatures drop, the manatees make their way into the natural springs to stay warm. Water temperatures in the springs are a consistent 73 degrees year round.  During my visit, there were 495 manatees in Blue Spring.


That’s a record!!!


It sure was an amazing sight, seeing them slowly swimming along the banks, seeking out sunlight. Some were even playing in the waters.


These manatees were putting on a show for us, rolling around, doing flips and even flopping their flippers in and out of the water.


If you plan on visiting Blue Spring State Park, keep in mind, it can reach capacity quickly so try to go early. Besides manatee viewing, there is also a boat tour and museum.

The guided St. John’s River Cruise is both relaxing and informational, plus you’re sure to get a glimpse of even more wildlife and beautiful landscapes. Again, try to get there early.

Then take a self-guided tour through the Thursday House, built in 1872. The Thursbys left New York and arrived at Blue Spring by steamboat and became the spring’s first permanent settlers.


They sure had an amazing view, one you should check out for yourself.


Camping, scuba diving and nature trails are also available at Blue Spring State Park.


Filed under Like a Local, Travel