Silver Springs State Park – Glass Bottom Boat Tours

April 11th, 2020 by Corey A Edwards

Alligator basking at Silver Springs State ParkSilver Springs State Park is well known for its natural springs, copious wildlife, glass-bottomed boats, and more. This popular and famous outdoor destination has been attracting visitors since the 1820’s and is only an hour’s drive of our North Florida inn, Hampton Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Silver Springs State Park, previously Silver River State Park, opened to the public in 1987 but has been a tourist attraction, some say Florida’s first, since the 1800’s. Even the park’s most famous feature – glass bottomed boat tours – is over 100 years old, having first been offered in 1870! In fact, Silver Springs is the birthplace of glass bottomed boats.

Silver Springs State Park is located on the Silver River, just west of Ocala National Forest. The 4,000-acre park includes the entire 5-mile Silver River and the sandhill forest that surrounds it.

The park now promotes its vast collection of natural habitats and eco-tourism activities showcasing Silver Springs. Springsfest, one of its biggest annual events, celebrates the efforts to protect and restore all Florida springs and waterways.

Lots of things have changed since those early days but one thing remains a constant: Silver Springs’ popularity.

Activities at the Park

What’s there to do at the park? What’s not there to do!

Tours
A variety of guided tours and walks are offered almost every weekend. Tours include a Garden Tour, Florida Safari, Nature Hikes, and of course …

Glass bottomed boat at Silver Springs State ParkGlass Bottom Boat Tours
Silver Springs world famous Glass Bottom Boat tours provide breathtaking views of Silver River’s fantastic underwater world. See the river’s head spring, many species of fish, historical artifacts, and even old movie props from the park’s Hollywood production days! 30 minute and 90 minute tours are available.

Hiking
The park has five different trails to choose from, ranging in length from a 3/4 mile loop to 4.6 miles, round trip. The trails travel a variety of habitats and are a great way to see the regions wonderful collection of plants and …

Wildlife Viewing
The park is home to a wide variety of species. Frequent sightings include armadillos, deer, turkey, fox, alligators, turtles, and limpkin. Sherman fox squirrel and gopher tortoises. You may also spy coyotes, bobcats, hairy woodpeckers, manatee, and black bear.

Mountain Biking
Silver Springs has 4.5 miles of dedicated, off-road bike trails for fat tire bicycles. Some 10 miles of the park’s hiking trails are also open to bikes but cyclists must yield to other users on those trails.

Paddling
The park rents canoes, single and tandem kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards (SUP). They even offer clear bottom tandem kayaks! Enjoy the entire 5 mile course of the Silver River or choose a shorter, out-and-back excursion.

Silver River Museum and Cracker Village
The Silver River Museum contains exhibits on Florida geology, paleontology, archaeology, and natural history. It also has exhibits on more recent history, from the arrival of the first European explorers. This includes a replica of a 19th century pioneer settlement: The Cracker Village.

Silver Springs State Park

5656 East Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, Florida
Open 7 days a week, 8am to sundown, all year-round, including holidays.

Glass-Bottomed Boat Tours, Guided Paddling Adventures, and all kayak, SUP, and canoe rentals require reservations. For more information, visit the park’s website at www.silversprings.com. You can also visit and follow the park on Facebook.

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