Silver Springs State Park, 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd., is reputedly the world's largest formation of clear artesian springs. One major spring, 65 feet long and 12 feet high, and more than a dozen minor springs form the headwaters of the crystalline Silver River, part of the inland waterway that links the springs to the St. Johns River and Jacksonville.
A 30-minute narrated cruise in a glass-bottom boat offers a clear view of underwater life as far as 40 feet below the surface; native wildlife such as deer, alligators, black bears, foxes and marine birds may be seen along the way. Outdoor enthusiasts can go hiking, horseback riding and bicycling on nature trails; canoeing and kayaking on the Silver River; camping in luxury cabins or at RV sites; partaking in a guided kayak tour; strolling through botanical gardens; and picnicking. Explore the 19th-century pioneer cracker village and the Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center; kids will enjoy the park's playground. Concerts take place on the Twin Oaks Mansion stage seasonally. Guided hikes and tram tours are offered monthly.
Note: Rental strollers and wheelchairs are available. Swimming and fishing are prohibited in the Silver River.
Guided tours are available. Pets on leash are allowed. Recreational activities are permitted. Camping is permitted. Picnicking is permitted. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.
Entrance fee $8 (per private vehicle with two to eight people); $5 (per single-occupant private vehicle); $2 (per person arriving on foot or bicycle, or extra passengers in private vehicle). Museum $2; free (ages 0-5). Canoe or kayak launch $4. Two-person canoe or kayak rental $18 (1 hour); $9 (each additional hour); 1-day pass $45. One-person kayak rental $14 (1 hour); $7 (each additional hour); 1-day pass $35. Guided kayak tour $35. Guided trail rides on horseback $40 (1 hour); $55 (2 hours). Glass-bottom boat tour $11; $10 (ages 6-17 and senior citizens); free (ages 0-5). Parking: $8 (up to 8 people).
Hours: Park open daily 8-dusk. Museum open Sat.-Sun. and holidays 9-5. Glass-bottom boat tour departs daily every 30-45 minutes (weather permitting) 10-6. Cracker village tour is given at 10 a.m. second and fourth Sat. of the month. Phone ahead for concert schedule and rates.