Florida Hikes Travel

Where to Swim With Alligators in Florida

The lovely Wakulla Springs State Park located just a short drive from Tallahassee, Florida is one of the most beautiful state parks in the panhandle of Florida and is a part of the Real Florida. It is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. The year round spring temperature of 70 degrees makes it for the perfect spot to take a dip in the winter and keeps the boat ride offered by the park nice and cool in the summer months.

A great inexpensive boat ride ($6) brings you up and close to tons of wildlife, jumping fish, gators which seem to happily co-exist with everything else, turtles, all kinds of exotic birds and manatees, all nestled in amazing scenery, not to mention the moss trees in the background that on a foggy day which looks like a scene straight out of a scary movie. The boat ride takes about an hour and is a great way to get to know the wildlife of the park.

We were greeted upon arrival by a school of manatees floating by happily. The little beach under the lower level of the observation/diving tower was not busy but there were a few kids swimming. The sand beach looked nice and clean. We did not however attempt to swim this day.  Kudos to the other children swimming in the water, but we were not courageous enough to trust the buoy barrier separating the swimmers from the gators. The water is crystal clear and you can see the fish swimming under you and around you. They are not shy and would come close with no fear.

I have to say the highlight of our visit was the boat ride. We got tickets as soon as we got there and waited on the platform for just a short bit.

The boats run fairly often but even if they didn’t there is so much to see and do around that we wouldn’t have necessarily been upset if we were to wait a little longer. The lodge is a great place to grab a bite to eat if you are killing time. The rustic Florida hostel is a true throwback to the 1940s and looks like a scene from a TV show.

There is always something happening inside it that keeps guests amused and entertained. There are many benches surrounding the water that are a great spot to sit and enjoy the peaceful surrounding and the serene scenery.

There is the Glass Bottom Boat tour running as well which we decided to skip as we were unsure of how our little one would react, but that would be a great option if you are looking to get even closer to the water and the abundance of wildlife around you. The facilities are neat and clean and there are plenty of places where you can sit and have a picnic if you brought something from home.

The man operating the boat was hilarious and so knowledgeable. He made sure to point and explain everything that was to be seen around and even turned the boat couple of times so all of us would have the best seat to see it all and the perfect opportunity for picture taking. He pointed towards the alligators creeping in the bushes, to the manatees swimming under us and than reversed the boat so we can take a look at them. We got to see alligators sunbathing on top of tree logs in the company of turtles, herons flying by us looking for lunch and the sweetest little family of ducks our toddler have seen as well as all sorts of beautiful birds.

The  tour guide told us all of the names of the birds, the trees and all with great attitude which made the boat ride so much fun and so enjoyable for all of us. Kids were kept happy and entertained the entire time and our little one got to make a friend with another child on the boat.

We couldn’t have imagined a day better spent. Maybe if we had enough time to stay at the lodge that would’ve done it, but we had to leave something for our next visit which is sure to happen soon.

The culmination to such awesome day and the greatest experience for us and our little one must’ve been seeing a bird coming flying down from the sky with a speed we couldn’t even imagine, nearly missing hitting the boat and instead splashing in the water and coming out with a fish in her mouth, than proceeding to feast on it. WOW! What a scene to witness!

I think the expression on our toddler’s face says it all!

If you are ever in the area Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge is a must! If you are a wildlife lover or an avid bird watcher or a trill seeker or looking for a great swim spot while in Florida away from the crowds on the beaches this place is for you!

Wakulla Springs is located 14 miles south of Tallahassee and 5 miles east of Crawfordville in Wakulla County at the crossroads of State Road 61 and State Road 267 and you can find it here:

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