On our final day we are highlighting perhaps our absolute favorite state park in Florida-Manatee Springs State Park.
Day 5-Manatee Springs State Park
Manatee Springs State Park is in Chiefland, FL, which is a very small town, but there are a few places to stop off, making it less remote than some state parks we have traveled to. The park is near Paynes Prairie State Park and the Georgia border so, for those traveling through, it is another great park to stop off at. We visited on the way back during one of our trips to Florida, and it was a fantastic way to cap off the trip.
For those looking for peace and quiet in the middle of the day, Manatee Springs State Park is lacking. As the name suggests, the park boasts a beautiful natural spring, but it is also known as a popular swimming hole, so be prepared. We arrived during the middle of the day and were not initially enthralled with the state park as it was packed with hundreds of people swimming in the spring. Since we were camping though, we were left all by ourselves once all of the rowdy people who just wanted to swim left for the evening.
Afterwards, we were the only ones left at the spring, and we were captivated by the still, crisp, blue waters. The spring is fairly deep, but the water is so clear you can see the bottom. The entire spring area is surrounded by cypress trees, just enhancing the views. Since it is a natural spring, the water stays at 72 degrees year round, making for a lovely dip. There is a boardwalk that leads along a waterway that connects the spring to the lake, and the waterway is extremely shallow and is filled with the bright blue and green waters flowing from the spring. The water is so clear that you are able to see the bottom, and it is enchanting. You get to experience what a watery ecosystem feels like for the fish and turtles (or possible manatees). We walked along the boardwalk for a long time and just enjoyed the simple beauty of the peaceful waterway and spring. The park is known for visitors spotting otters and, of course, manatees, so we got up pretty early and just walked up and down the boardwalk again in search of critters. For nature lovers, make sure you visit in the early morning and late afternoon to be able to really enjoy the natural beauty. We had such a phenomenal time just taking in the beautiful blues and greens of the spring water and surrounding cypress trees.
Side Note: Please, please, I implore you-do not feed wildlife! They become reliant on humans to feed them, and the food we eat is not good for them. It was heartbreaking when a deer was clearly very sick and came right up to us in our campsite and tried to take our food. This is very bad for the critters. Please do not feed them.