Silver Springs State Park: Wild Monkeys and Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Many people don’t realize that Florida state is home to roughly 600 natural springs that produce more than 8 billion gallons of water a day. 8 Billion!

Do you know what this means? The sunshine state has the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Silver Springs, Florida’s first tourist attraction.

Focusing on the natural side of things on our road trip in Florida this year, we put Silver Springs State Park on the itinerary.

Come with us as we uncover what Florida’s first tourist attraction has to offer!

History of Silver Springs State Park

Tourism in Florida didn’t begin until after the Civil War ended in 1865. Thank you very much to the Florida Museum in Tallahassee for that tidbit of information we learned on our visit.

Soldiers were on the move looking for the healing powers of the springs and the warm weather of the south.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Kayakers gliding through the jungle that surrounds Silver Springs

And in comes Silver Springs with its warm weather, invigorating capabilities, and 72-degree year-round water temps.

When Hullam Jones invented the glass bottom boat to view the crystal clear world below in 1877, Silver Springs was well on its way to becoming the state’s first theme park.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Silver Springs State Park Glass Bottom Boat

Here we are, 140 years later, and the springs are still impressing visitors every day.

Visit Silver Springs State Park

Located in central Florida, Silver Springs State Park is an hour and a half from Orlando. Only a short distance from the hustle and bustle of Disney, Florida’s current number one tourist attraction, yet Silver Springs feels like a lifetime away.

Silver Springs State Park in Florida
Welcome to Florida’s oldest tourist attraction!

From the moment we walk under the entrance sign, we notice the nostalgic feel of simpler days lost some time ago. It speaks volumes about the yesteryear when travel wasn’t so widespread and accessible.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Old Florida feel at Silver Springs

Once inside, we notice the park is compact with only three main walking trails justifying the small admission price. After a short jaunt along a paved pathway, you are rewarded with stunning views of the azure waters.

Now, this is what we came here to see!

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Cannot get over that water!
Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Trail at Silver Springs State Park

Kayakers are gliding on top of the water taking breaks every so often to look down into the deep blue abyss. A glass-bottom boat slowly gets its start from the boat launch and I can’t contain my excitement.

World-Famous Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Ordinarily, we like to get out on the water ourselves, but since we’ve never been on a glass bottom boat before, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
About to take a boat ride!

While waiting for other passengers to board, we witness the circle of life taking place outside our window.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Just when you thought you were having a bad day!

As the tour begins and we make our way across the springs, it is effortless to spot fish swimming by in the crystal clear freshwater below.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Is that a goldfish?
Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
How cool!

The 30-minute ride goes by fast as we listen to the history of the park and see a canoe that dates back to the Spanish explorer days still sunk at the bottom of the river.

Fun Fact: Parts of the “Creature of the Black Lagoon” movie were filmed at Silver Springs. 

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Canoe at the bottom of Silver Springs

If it’s your first visit like ours and you are not taking advantage of the kayaking or canoeing, I would suggest the 90-minute extended boat ride to see more of the river. It is only offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays so plan accordingly.

⇓ See below for information on your visit ⇓

Kayaking or Canoeing in Silver Springs

Silver Springs State Park now offers kayaking and canoeing as an option to get out on the water. For over a century, the route was used for tour boats only.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Kayaking on Silver Springs

Although we didn’t kayak this time around, we spoke to a few people that did and they enjoyed the jungle-like scenery.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Spectacular scenery!

Not only are you paddling on pristine water, but there’s always a chance of seeing some of the wildlife in the area. Deer, armadillos, black bears, wild boars, foxes, alligators, bobcats, and even monkeys call the state park home.


“Warning: Feeding or petting the monkeys is prohibited as they can get aggressive. Avoid contact and observe from a safe distance if you encounter one.”

I have to admit, there is a sense of adventure walking around the trails when you know at any moment you might encounter a wild monkey.

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Looks like we’ve entered the jungle!

Unfortunately, because we visited on a cool winter day, we didn’t see any monkeys on our visit. You are more likely to see them when it’s hot outside as they hang out by the water then, we were told at the end of our tour by the captain.

Altogether our experience at Silver Springs State Park was a positive one and we will be back at some point to kayak and monkey around. It’s clear that Florida state parks have a lot to offer so we plan to add a few more to future itineraries.

Places to Stay near Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park is Florida's oldest tourist attraction. Come with us as we go back in time while we explore the springs today. Did someone say wild monkeys and glass bottom boats?
Turn right after entering the park – Don’t skip this section!

Plan your Visit to Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park
5656 Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, Florida 34488
Open: 365 days a year from 8 am to sunset

  • Glass Bottom Boat tours require an additional fee and run every 30-45 minutes from 10 am to 6 pm daily.
  • Reservations are not necessary.
  • The last Boat tour is 6 pm.
  • Extended 90-minute tours are offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm.
  • Spring Side Café serves an array of hot food including sandwiches and wraps.
  • Picnic tables located in the parking lot and inside the park to bring your own food.
  • Canoe and kayaks are available for rent, reservations suggested during busy season.

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links, if you book through our link we will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting the blog.

Have you ever been to Florida’s Silver Springs State Park? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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Silver Springs State Park is a hidden gem! Add it to your #Florida bucket list to #kayak in crystal clear water, see wild monkeys, or take a tour on a glass bottom boat.

If you're looking for unforgettable things to do in Florida then Silver Springs State Park is the place. It is not only Florida's oldest tourist attraction, but home to wild monkeys, glass bottom boats and crystal clear waters! #kayaking #florida #springs #roadtrip

 

19 Responses

  1. Ashley

    Any spring in Florida is amazing. Personally I’m a fan of Blue Springs, but I’ll have to check out this one too.

  2. Chris travels

    I was at Silver Springs many years ago and swam and snorkeled while pregnant with my first child. Lol! I don’t remember the glass bottom boats, but the half hour tour looks amazing. Thanks for sharing all the great photos!

  3. Delisa Zak | Destination: Overlooked

    Cool! I’ve heard of Silver Springs but wasn’t sure where in Florida it was. I did not know about the monkeys! Sounds like a place we need to visit.

  4. Melanie

    I went to Silver Springs parks, however I did not quite enjoyed my visit since I had a close encounter with a wild animal which made me very scared!

  5. Candy

    Wow! This place is gorgeous! I used to live in Florida and didn’t know about Silver Springs State Park at the time. After seeing your beautiful photos, this is making me want to visit so bad. Question, did you get seasick? I get motion sickness really easily, but really would like to go on the tour.

  6. Kate

    Silver Springs State Park looks incredible. The colour of that water and the scenery is lovely. Great photos and thanks for a great recommendation

  7. Carol Colborn

    Didn’t know this is near Ocala where we stayed for a month! The first tourist attraction with hot springs, monkeys and the glass-bottom boat that shows Spanish relics!

  8. Punita Malhotra

    Florida has such a lovely park, kayaking, canoeing and glass-bottom boat tours too! My cousin lives there and she never mentioned this part of the city. I have another reason to go visit her now.

  9. Carmen Edelson

    I can’t get over that water either, wow! I live in Florida and am constantly blown away by everything it has to offer. I’d love to go there, thanks for sharing!

  10. melody pittman

    Been in Florida for 6 years and still haven’t been to Silver Springs! Always such beautiful scenery, I must make time to get over there. Thanks for sharing some tips and lovely photos. 😉

    • Dang Travelers

      If you haven’t been to that area, you are in for a treat. If you like to kayak make sure you check out Weeki Wachee Springs too.

  11. Debby

    Check out Myakka State Park over by Sarasota. Alligators everywhere to watch and alligator on a stick to eat at the concession. Boat rides, tram rides, boat and bike rentals, a canopy walk and a bird sanctuary. Can’t see it all in a day!

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