Explore: Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
If you are looking for a taste of “real Florida,” look no further than to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. Located in Wakulla Springs, Florida, entering this park is like taking a little trip back in time.
One of the features that makes this park stand out is the historic Spanish style lodge where park visitors can visit and even stay! Built in the 1930s, and the simplicity of the structure highlights the beauty of the spring just steps away.
What brings me back to this park year after year are the springs themselves. It is always chilly - averaging about 70 degrees everyday, but it is gorgeous! You can see several feet below through the clear water, and the wildlife that surrounds you is abundant and fantastic! Gators, manatees, turtles, fish, birds...you name it, all call the springs home.
What’s the best way to spot the wildlife, you ask? Hop on a boat tour! You can catch daily guided tours that last about 45 minutes on the river. Volunteers lead the tour, and they are always incredibly engaging, kind, and extremely knowledgeable about the park’s history and the wildlife that resides there. My 2.5 year old loved the boat tour on our most recent trip to the springs (and it’s hard to keep his attention for a long amount of time)! Since the boats are slow moving, children are allowed to stand up and move around in order to see the different wonders on each side of the boat during the tour.
During the summer months, swimming at the springs is a (refreshing) pastime! There is a roped off area for swimmers , but keep in mind that the springs are incredibly deep (over 150 feet) on the other side of the rope. A fun feature for the most daring of children is the high dive! It’s a little over 10 feet tall, but taking the plunge is something kiddos will remember with pride.
This park boasts wonderful canopied trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There is an awesome picnic area with a covered pavilion, and a really fun playground for the kids.
If you are looking for a bite to eat, the lodge has two options. There is a formal dining room which is open for certain meals, and there is also an old fashioned style soda shop where you can grab your typical hotdog, hamburger, and ice cream. I will admit, the food is pretty lacking at the soda shop, so I would recommend bringing a picnic lunch if you have kids and enjoy eating it outside.
All in all, this state park is a fun adventure! It’s the definition of simplicity and nature. Perfect match, right?
Location: 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327
Hours: 8:00AM - sundown, open daily
Fees: $6.00 per vehicle