Most Unique Florida State Park: Silver Springs

Most Unique Florida State Park: Silver Springs

We recently visited Florida’s oldest roadside attraction, Silver Springs State Park in Florida, and discovered why this should be on everyone’s list when visiting the sunshine state. From glass bottom boats to the Silver River Museum, there is something for everyone! You can easily spend an entire weekend exploring the park, which covers more than 4,000 acres.

Up first, we did something that has been on our Florida bucket list for years, going out on the glass bottom boats here at Silver Springs State Park. 

In addition to taking a boat tour, Silver Springs State Park offers hiking, camping, paddleboarding, kayaking, tons of wildlife viewing, and even a fascinating museum. 

Tourism here dates all the way back to the 1820s, and the popularity of the Silver River and Silver Springs only grew with the rise of steamboats, bringing travelers up the river into the springs. In 1870, the first glass bottom boats came to life. Even though they’ve evolved a bit since those early days, it’s still the main attraction for us tourists even more than 100 years later. There is so much history in this park!

The park opens at 8 am everyday and is open until sundown. There are a few fees to enter the park that vary on the amount of people with you, around $8 per vehicle.

Glass Bottom Boat
WHAT TO DO

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

The glass bottom boat tours are probably the most popular (and well-known) thing here at Silver Springs. There are two options: a 30 minute tour ($15 per person) and then an extended 90 minute tour. The 90 minute tours ($30 per person) sell out very quickly! We highly recommend taking the longer tour because you’re going deeper down the river. 

You get to see all of the springs that are closer to where you’re launching, but then you trek further out and you’re seeing a lot more wildlife! If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the monkeys in the forest around the park. It was so amazing to see the springs, fish and other things underneath us! Keep your eyes peeled for the shimmers of limestone below, which is one of the reasons the river got its name! When the light reflects, it gives the water a silvery appearance. The park was also previously used as the backdrop several movies, so if you look carefully you can see remnants of props that are still underwater, like some of the sunken ships and the famous statues.

Another interesting fact our captain told us on our tour is that the water replenishes every 38 minutes! This means that the water when we departed from the dock was not the same water at all from when we returned. And that one spring in particular, the one that’s near the dock, provides a vast majority of all of the water that’s in the river.

Kayaking

After you finish your glass bottom boat tour, we recommend getting out on the water with a kayak rental. We chose the 2-hour tour with a tandem kayak which was $55 and the perfect amount of time, especially if you aren’t an experienced kayaker. Going kayaking after the glass bottom boat tour felt like it gave us a better understanding of what we were looking for and where we were going. You are able to really see the wildlife up close- we saw sea turtles and a few manatees, even a one week old baby! 

Silver River Museum

Adjacent to the park’s campground you’ll find the Silver River Museum, which is definitely worth a visit if it’s open during your trip. Monday through Friday, the museum is only open to school groups, but they have public hours on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm and tickets are only $2. 

We were able to check out all the great exhibits and learn about some of the environmental history of this area. Back in 2000, there was a massive drought and in Noonan’s Lake, local residents and high school students started seeing pieces of wood protruding from the mud. They reported it and a team of archeologists found 101 ancient canoes in that lake! There is so much history at the museum including an original glass bottom boat that was salvaged from the Ocala River about 40 years ago. The boat that we were on, which was from the 1960s, is pretty similar to what the original glass bottom boats were like, so they kept the integrity of those early tours!

WHERE TO STAY

We set up the RV at their on-site campground, which is in a separate area from the main springs, boat tours, and kayak launch. It’s about an eight minute drive, so make sure you take that into account when booking your camping and activities here at Silver Springs. These campsites were massive with water and electric hookups, a picnic table, and a fire pit.

Camping at Silver Springs State Park

WHERE TO EAT

We highly recommend local chain, Mojo’s, which is only about three miles outside of the campground. The vibe is fun & festive and the food was delicious! The interior of Mojo’s plays on the owner Rondo’s love of blues music. We got to sit in the stairway to heaven tower, which is beautifully decorated to honor some of the greatest musicians of our time. 

The Cuban inspired dishes were excellent and great bang for your buck. I had the Cuban pork dinner, which was so flavorful and delicious. Howard had three huge mahi fish tacos. It’s a great spot to grab a bite! 

Cuban Pork Dinner at Mojo’s

Stariway to Heaven at Mojo's

Want to travel with us? Check out our Newstate Nomads Group Trips, brand new in 2024! Experience the food, culture and must-see attractions side-by-side with us on a curated, small group trip. See our upcoming trips and learn more at newstatenomads.com/grouptrips

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Katelyn & Howard Newstate

Howard and Katelyn Newstate have traveled over 80,000 miles in their Winnebago Navion Class C RV, exploring from Alaska to mainland Mexico since 2018. Joined by their adventure pups, Piper, Ella and Scout, they share how to “Live Like a Local” in every New State they explore. For more information on their travels or the 51 Parks in 52 Weeks tour, visit NewstateNomads.com/NationalParks

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Best overnight stay ever!? 😍🦙

During our time in Bowling Green, Kentucky, we put our @harvesthosts membership to good use with a stay at Alive N' Fuzzy Alpaca Farm! 

We helped bring all the alpacas up to the barn for the evening and even got to take some on a walk. Just be careful... they spit! (ask Howard, he knows 🤣)

The farm is home to dozens of alpacas, gander geese, a retired mule, Peaches the dog, chickens and one llama! It was one of our favorite stays ever and very convenient to all the main attractions in Bowling Green! 🙌🥰🦙 

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Safe to say, we stopped to look around 😍 

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There's so much to see & do in St. Augustine BUT

If you're short on time, these are our can't miss recommendations:

1. Stroll down Aviles Street, which just so happens to be the oldest street in the Nation! 

2. While you're on this historic side street, pop into @forgottentonic_sta for amazing craft cocktails and delicious food. The blackened chicken egg rolls are *chef's kiss* 👌

3. Take the @flaglercollege Historic Legacy Tour. It's $17 pp and lasts about an hour, but you get access to areas the general public can't go. You'll get to see the largest collection of Tiffany glass and 11 Tiffany chandeliers ✨

4. Step back in time at @castillonps where you can watch a cannon demonstration and learn from the amazing interpretative volunteers. The fort was constructed in the late 1600s 🤯

5. Visit @staugustinedistillery for a tasting & a tour. They have free options or different experiences you can book. It was so fun and we learned a lot about the distilling process!

6. If you're an RVer like us, try to snag a spot at @anastasiastatepark or just visit for the day! Easy beach access and beautiful campsites, what more do you need? 😍

Save this reel for your St. Augustine adventures! 

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Things to do in St. Augustine | St. Augustine Florida | Things to do in Florida
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We share our life on YouTube, I'm a former news reporter (whose job it was to talk to people and tell their stories), yet I get SO much anxiety over meeting new people, networking, or showing up to something... gasp....alone. 😱 It makes me sooo uncomfortable, but that's where we often do our best growing and evolving.

And that uncomfy stuff... I had to do it ALL this past weekend at #WITSUtah. But it was the best👏 decision 👏 ever. 👏

WITS stands for the 'Women in Travel Summit' put on by the team @sheswanderful. It brings creators, bloggers, influencers, brands, destinations, etc. from the travel space all together to meet, grow & learn from each other. 

I left with so many new friends and new ideas. And most importantly, I left feeling that spark again. There's something about being in a room (or on a zipline platform) with smart, creative women who all share a common passion. 

I'm ready (and SO excited) for the future 🎉 and to keep doing what I love, sharing stories from the road. ❤️ And I can't thank you enough for following along as we do that! 🙌🥹

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It's going to be a fun weekend of learning, meeting other awesome women and talking all things travel! ✈️❤️ Plus, Salt Lake City is beautiful right now! 😍

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