Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
It's easy to see that Weeki Wachee Springs is not your average Florida State Park. The Spring first opened to the public in 1947 as one of Florida's famous roadside attractions - the precursor to today's theme parks. The most popular attraction at the park has always been a show featuring live "mermaids" ... presented in a specially built underwater theater that allows visitors to view the Spring - and the mermaids - from under the surface. In 2008, Weeki Wachee Springs became part of the Florida State Park system. Features of the original world-famous attraction, including the mermaid shows, the jungle boat cruise, and wildlife shows, continue today. Due to the unique features of the park, it should be noted that the entrance fee is substantially more than most state parks.

Weeki Wachee Spring generates 117 million gallons of crystal clear water each day at a constant temperature of 74 degrees fahrenheit. It is the source for the Weeki Wachee River which flows 12 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. In winter, the relatively warm waters of the spring attract manatees to the mouth of the river. Some swim upstream a few miles, although it would be very rare to find them at the headwaters of the spring.

Access to the river for kayaks and canoes is provided just downstream from the spring. A state park concessionaire charges a small fee to launch, and also has watercraft that can be rented. Most paddlers take the trip downstream all the way to Roger's Park - operated by Hernando County - a trip of about 5½ miles. For those who don't want to paddle back upstream against a strong current, shuttle service is available for the return trip to the launch point.

There are no trails into the forested areas of the State Park from the main visitor area. If you want to hike or do some off-road biking, you should consider going to the nearby Weeki Wachee Preserve. Within the visitor area of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, there are paved, wheelchair friendly paths that take you between the various attractions. The Park offers their famous mermaid shows and wildlife shows several times per day. Also included in the entrance fee is a trip on the river boat cruise - which takes you on a narrated cruise down the Weeki Wachee River. The river boat cruise runs constantly most of the day.

Adjacent to the spring there is a water park called "Buccaneer Bay", also operated by the State Park system. Although swimming is allowed all year long, the water slides, kiddie pool and "Lazy River" section are only open during the summer months. There is a separate admission fee for Buccaner Bay. Swimming or SCUBA diving is not allowed in the Spring itself, or in the Weeki Wachee River within the State Park boundaries. If you kayak downstream, you will leave the park boundary after about 1½ miles - and there are a number of good places on that section of the river to swim.
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