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For The Love of Manatees Join Us As We Discover Stunning Natural Springs and Help Their Seasonal Inhabitants

Kelly Park Rock Springs

If you want a refreshing life experience, there’s nothing quite like the spectacular natural springs in Florida to revive a tired soul. Their sheer beauty is awe inspiring and this is multiplied when the manatees arrive, watching these gentle giants glide along is simply magical. Here we take you on a journey to 4 of our favorite springs, all just a drive from Orlando.

Caroline & Laurie Hart at Silver Springs State Park

When thinking of Florida, many people only think of the manmade attractions but there is so much more to discover. Whenever we get the chance we really love to explore all the nature that surrounds us, not only the stunning silver sand beaches but the nature parks that you can happily lose yourself in. Our absolute favorites are the natural springs, they offer a kind of tranquility you want to absorb, and they really do wash away any negative energy. Not only are they beautiful with all the lush tropical trees, plants and sparkling water, they also inspire our art and fill us with new ideas for our next creations.

Silver Springs State Park


1425 NE 58th Avenue, Ocala, Fl 34470

This park is huge, covering almost 5000 acres, with endless activities from hikes and cycle trails, to paddling trails and glass bottom boat tours. There are plenty of ways to explore the park, whether you prefer on foot or on water, the scenery is picturesque with beauty spots at every turn. The park opens at 8am 7 days a week, it only costs $2.00 per person to enter and it is definitely well worth it.

If you want to take the glass bottom boat tour it’s best to book in advance, or as soon as you arrive, as they book up early. Pricing starts at $13 per adult for the 30 minute tour.

Although the waters are inviting, its worth noting that there is no swimming anywhere in the park, you can hire kayaks and paddle boards and the Fort King Paddle Trail offers a peaceful motor free zone.

There’s a great mix of walking and hiking trails to suit any level, from 0.8 miles to 2.5 miles, there is also a 5.6 mile loop for horseback riding. For the extremely adventurous, you can hit the 1,300 mile Florida Trail, which takes you from the Everglades to Pensacola Beach!

Take a virtual stroll


HART ART has partnered with SAVE THE MANATEE CLUB an award winning national nonprofit 501(c)(3) and membership organization established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, and the former, late U.S Senator Bob Graham when he was governor of Florida. STM incorporated a piece of our art for a special decal for the HART gallery, coming soon to Camp Margaritaville Auburndale. The art print LOVE IN YOUR HEART is now available for purchase, and $5 from every sale will be donated for the manatees. Join us is helping make a difference for a hard working organization. 

Blue Spring State Park


2100 West French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763

Blue Spring State Park ~ Manatees

This spring is in the heart of the Blue Spring State Park, which covers 2643 acres, it is absolutely magnificent. We were lucky enough to visit during the time when the manatees were there in abundance. Strolling along the shaded boardwalk we were able to see literally hundreds of manatees, including mom’s with their calves which were adorable.

Manatee and Calf

The best time to catch a sighting of the manatees is from mid-November to March, during that time there are no water activities to protect the manatees from over enthusiastic visitors. You can still enjoy being at one with nature as you meander alongside the spring taking in the wondrous views.

Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge and also boasts more than 150 bird species, so there’s much to look out for including kingfishers, eagles and you may also spot a basking alligator or turtle.

During the summer months there’s plenty to enjoy from swimming, tubing and snorkeling to boat rides, waterboarding and canoeing. There are plenty of spots for picnicking as well as a gift shop, concession store and restroom facilities, all of which help make this the perfect day out for all the family.

Blue Spring State Park is open 365 days a year from 8 am until sunset, an entrance fee is required and at peak times there may be a wait but it is definitely worth it.


400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712

Kelly Park Rock Springs

If dipping into the crystal-clear waters of a natural spring, surrounded by a lush subtropical forest is your idea of paradise, then don’t hesitate to put Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run, in Florida’s Orange County on your 2023 bucket list! This 248-acre park really is beautiful, only 17 miles northwest of Orlando, you can enjoy its trails and picnic areas, as well as the spring, for only $3-5 per carload.

Part way down, the stream opens up and you are greeted with a picturesque lagoon for swimming, surrounded by picnic area’s and space for sunbathing. It was wonderfully idyllic when we were there, we recommend going off season, as the park does get extremely busy during the peak summer months, it opens at 8AM and usually fills up by 9AM.

After floating your way down the stream for about a mile, you reach a bridge divider this ends the tubing section of the stream, there are more easy exit points here, that bring you to a boardwalk and then a paved pathway, this leads you all the way back to the start, if you want to float again.

On the other side of the bridge divider, where the Rock Springs Run deepens, you can kayak or canoe down a further 8.5 miles, this part of the stream merges into Wekiwa Springs Run.

If you prefer to walk you can enjoy the trails there, taking in the extensive sub-tropical forest, do be aware that there are many wild animals roaming, including bears. While we were walking a trail, we spotted a black snake and a Gopher Tortoise, part way through our walk we heard the sound of something large lolloping nearby, so we made a quick about-turn, not wanting any confrontation with a bear, possibly it was just a deer but we didn’t want to take any chances.

After the excitement of a hurried walk back, we sat down near the central lagoon, sipping our drinks and taking in the view of tubers floating by. You can bring your own picnic, or use the grills provided, park amenities include concessions and restrooms. You can’t bring pets, alcohol or firearms into the park and there is no fishing allowed.

This park makes a perfect, inexpensive, day out, that the whole family can enjoy, plenty of opportunities for great photography and a real taste of natural Florida. We highly recommend you grab a tube and head down a real lazy river, let the water relax you and revive your tired soul.

Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run is situated at 400 East Kelly Park Road, Apopka, Florida (407) 889-4179

Here's everything you need to know before you go FAQ


6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

This 538 acre park offers something a little different to the previous springs, not only does it have breathtaking views, boat rides, paddle boarding and swimming, it also has mermaids! Yes, mermaids! This park has a 400-seat submerged theater where you can become spellbound watching mermaids perform, especially as they have to contend with the strong currents caused by more than 117 million gallons of water that flow daily from the subterranean cavern. We really enjoyed the seeing the mermaids perform along with the wildlife show which was most informative.

There is much else for all the family to enjoy during your visit, we took the boat ride along the Weeki Wachee River where we did spot a manatee swimming alongside the boat, a deer and many birds. Kayaks are available for rent and you can swim in the crystal-clear water then dry off on the sandy beach area, enjoy a picnic overlooking the spring, or take a stroll around the tropical grounds.

This park is also open 365 days a year, from 9 am to 5.30 pm and an entrance fee is required. There is a restaurant, gift shop and restroom facilities.

theLexperience is 100% owned and operated by women.



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