boat tours

Silver Springs more than just the Famous Glass Bottom Boats

Back in the day, Silver Springs could not compete with Walt Disney’s new venture in the Orlando area and in the 1970s the once-popular Florida tourist attraction, Florida’s first in fact, began a steady decline. With the loss of revenue came the inability to properly care for the animals of the attraction and for the natural resources of the property.

The Silver Springs, once considered the Crown Jewel of Florida had become polluted during its era as a tourist attraction, and in 2013 the State of Florida Park Service took over the Silver Springs attraction and merged it with the neighboring Silver River State park forming what we know today as Silver Springs State Park.

Soon after the state of Florida took over its care, an expansive restoration plan to return the polluted springs and surrounding property back to its natural beauty was developed and put into action.

While restoration is the State’s main objective there is a great deal of history as a tourist attraction that the state has decided to preserve as well. Of course, the decision was made to keep offering the world-famous Glass Bottom Boat Tours but there are still other remnants from the attraction’s past still standing on the grounds.

Many Hollywood productions and TV shows were filmed there: Tarzan the Ape Man starring Johnny Weissmuller, Creature from the Black Lagoon in 1954, Sea Hunt Starring Lloyd Bridges, and underwater scenes in two James Bond Films among numerous other productions have been filmed at Silver Springs.

On our day of adventure at Silver Springs we of enjoyed the underwater view of the springs by taking the Glass Bottom Boat tour.

But we also spent some time looking for the now-famous inhabitants leftover from the good old roadside attraction days, the Feral rhesus macaques or more simply, the wild monkeys. Yes, wild monkeys.

Back in the 1930s a man named Colonel Tooey operated a jungle cruise at Silver Springs and to enhance his customer’s wildlife viewing experience he had the bright idea to place monkeys on a section of land now called Ross Allen Island. Unfortunately, Mr. Tooey did not bother to check out if these monkeys could swim and after a couple of days, he came back to the island to find that all the monkeys were gone.

At one time there were over 2500 Feral rhesus macaques in Silver Springs and the surrounding areas, however, after state intervention the population is down to around 500.

We entered at the main entrance off State Road 40 for our day of adventure at Silver Springs. At this entrance you can enjoy, the glass bottom boats, kayaking and the Ross Allen Island Boardwalk trail as well as other paved paths along the Silver River.

Along the Silver River we saw tons of butterflies, birds, alligators and other wildlife while enjoying the view of the river and gardens.

There is another entrance to Silver Springs State Park off State Road 35 that John and I have yet to explore. At this entrance are the campgrounds, cabins, Silver River Museum, The Cracker Village, and more hiking trails.

If you park at the Main Entrance on SR 40, the cost of admission to Silver Springs is $2.00 per person. Children 5 and under are free.  

At the Camping and Equestrian Entrances, the cost is $8.00 per vehicle with 2 to 8 occupants.  Admission is $5.00 for single-occupant vehicles. 

The cost for the 30 minute Glass Bottom Boat Tour is $12.00 per adult $11 for Children 6-12 and seniors and free for children under 5

There are numerous picnic tables for family picnics and even some with grills.

Silver Springs State Park is what John and I call a real value fun day, lots of activities at a value price. To enjoy a full day of family fun at Silver Springs State Park, take advantage of the activities at both entrances.

Silver Springs State Park is located in Silver Springs Florida, just east of Ocala.

John and I hope you have enjoyed reading about our view of Silver Springs State Park. During the Covid crisis, we have been concentrating on finding outdoor activities that we feel are safer than closed in spaces. We also know that many families have suffered financial setbacks during these last few months as well so we have been trying to find adventures that provide family entertainment at value prices.

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