Who knew the largest artesian spring in the world is a quick 90-minute trip north of Orlando, Florida? We did, but we’re locals; we’re supposed to know these things. Located in the charming town of Ocala, Silver Springs State Park happens to be the oldest commercial tourist attraction in Florida. Famous for its glass bottom boat tours, this Central Florida destination is easily an entire day’s adventure.
Silver Springs State Park Insider Experience
From those famous glass bottom boats to kayaking, biking, hiking, camping, concerts and more, here are our top not-to-miss attractions at Silver Springs State Park!
- Glass Bottom Boat Tours: Showcasing the park’s crystal-clear springs and underwater life, this is the perfect way to take a good look below the surface of Silver Springs and enjoy the river’s wildlife, vegetation and historical and cultural artifacts. The Glass Bottom Boat tours run every day between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM, occurring every 30-45 minutes. Reservations are not necessary. A fun fact: These glass bottom boat tours have been around for decades, and popular sights include a row boat brought by early Spanish settlers and movie props from old Hollywood productions.
- Kayaking and Canoeing: Paddle along the Silver River and Fort King Waterway in a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard. Bring your own or stop by Paddling Adventures at Silver Springs State Park to check out their available rentals – ask about their clear bottom kayaks!
- Concerts and Special Events: From different concert series, Florida SpringsFest, kayak lessons and ranger programs to pack walks, painter series, garden tours, book signings, cracker homestead tours and more, Silver Springs State Park is full of exciting, year-round activities! The best place to stay updated is their calendar of events on the Silver Springs State Park Facebook Events page. Concerts take place at the Twin Oaks Amphitheater inside the park.
- Camping: More than 50 spacious campsites in two park campgrounds can accommodate several different types of camping units, including RVs up to 50 feet long. Each site offers water and electric hook-ups and includes a fire ring, barbecue grill and picnic table. The state park also offers vacation cabins that sleep up to six people in each one. Amenities include a full dining area, two bedrooms, one bath, kitchenette, dishwasher, gas fireplace, air conditioning and heat, large screened-in porch, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, linen, towels, picnic tables and rocking chairs on the porch.
- Hike the Trails: The Silver Springs River Trails offers more than four miles of hiking action – it has two separate paths that offer pristine views along the Silver River. This is a local favorite!
- Mountain Biking: With close to five miles of dedicated off-road bicycling trails, Silver Springs State Park is an excellent spot to mountain bike. They also offer a limited number of paved trails for regular bicycles.
- Wildlife Sightseeing: Part of the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail’s east section, there is plenty of wildlife to see throughout the park, including wild turkey, bobwhite quail, hairy woodpecker, American kestrel and more.
- Dining at the Park: From sandwiches, salads, wraps, burgers, hot dogs and vegan options to baked goods, ice cream, hand-made fudge and more, Silver Springs State Park has two dining spots for visitors to enjoy. There is also a gift shop!
- Park Hours of Operation: Silver Springs State Park is open every day of the year, including all holidays, from 8:00 AM to sunset. Cost of admission is $2.00 per person. Well-behaved dogs are allowed.
More Attractions in Ocala, Florida
Just down the road from the main entrance of the park are several other not-to-miss attractions! Check out two of our favorites:
- Cactus Jack’s Trail Rides: Whether it’s just you or a group, relax and enjoy beautiful guided trail rides at the nearby Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, part of the Florida State Parks.
- Appleton Museum of Art: A leading cultural center, the Appleton Museum of Art brings art and people together to inspire, challenge and engage present and future generations through a wide range of collections, exhibitions, programs and educational opportunities.
Book Your Orlando Vacation Home Accommodations
Take the day and enjoy the fresh air and sights of Silver Springs State Park. When the day is done, come home to Encore Resort at Reunion. Our guard-gated community features modern, beautifully decorated 3- to 13-bedroom homes with backyard pools, washer/dryer units, and fully equipped kitchens, plus resort-style amenities like an AquaPark and concierge services.