Just an hour drive North of Orlando we discovered West Volusia. Wow! Breathtaking in every way!
We told you already how we got educated on some Florida history here at DeBary in West Volusia. Now, we are going to talk about the unparalleled natural beauty and treasure of activities at just one park. We are in awe of Blue Spring State park and has become our family favorite of all time. West Volusia Tourism Authority invited us to discover their paradise in exchange for our review. All opinions expressed are our own.
The first thing I need to mention is that as much as I admire, respect and love nature, I am not the camping type, mosquitoes make my life miserable and the humidity is not my best friend. This being said, I enjoyed the park so much we are considering renting one of the air conditioned cabins next fall.
The park is located at 2100 W. French Avenue Orange City, Florida 32763. You can call them at (386) 775-3663. This park is a vast 26000 acres of different things to do!
Entry to the park is marked by a gate where a ranger collects a fee for entry or checks your camp site reservation.
As for activities, here is list of what you can enjoy:
Blue spring has been designated a Manatee Refuge, and I was hoping to see a West India Manatee which is the species that lives here. We were late as Manatee season really goes to March, but still I was hopeful. The first one I spotted was this artful one :-) Cute, right?
- go tubing
- have a picnic
- go canoeing or kayaking
- take a boat tour
- visit and exhibit
- see wildlife
First on our list was tubing. We got our rental rafts and off we went. The water was freezing!!!! The spring's very clear water is a constant 73 degrees year round. That means fresh in the summer and balmy in winter. Once in the water it was a lazy ride down the river. As you stroll the river on the raft, you can see everything in the water. It is just that crystal clear. Amazing. Very large Florida Gar (fish) were minding their own business very close to us at all times. It gave me a feeling I was starting to be one with nature.
As we came out of the spring we spotted a real life Manatee!!! I was so excited! An expert said it was a young Manatee. Apparently it was trying to swim to the very source of the spring, but didn't stay long with so many of us in the water. I got my wish!!! Twice!!!
After a few relaxing tours tubing down the spring, we decided it was time for a boat tour. As we dried off, I realized we had spent 3 hours just tubing! I must say it was quite a feat for our family which is constantly trying to move on to the next point on the agenda; always on the move kinda family, you know?
Our boat tour was two hours long on the St. John's River on which we got a wealth of information on the river, its importance, history, plus the opportunity to see many different animals watching us pass by.
Once the boat tour was done, we decided for a hike. That was fun, the kids felt like explorers, and began naming plants that caught their eye. It was good exercise and a peaceful walk. I was totally disconnected and feeling very relaxed. Ahhhhhhh just perfect.
We ended our visit to the park by walking around and in the first settlers' house, the Thursby house which was build in 1872. It had some interesting items to see like a marriage certificate, some wooden blocks that children used to play with and a fabulous collection of ovens/ heaters: a different one in every room
As we walk into the hotel room, I realized I couldn't count a single mosquito bite in any of us. The weather had been perfect and did not manage to melt us out like the heat usually does. The only thing that I was counting was the permanent smiles on all of us, the beautiful nature photos we got and the memories that the kids were starting to recount of the day's events. Oh, and of course the two Manatees I had seen :-)
Truly memorable, different, and very affordable, the visit to Blue Springs State Park in West Volusia will be forever with all of us, and specially me because I might now brave it up to go camping, seriously...after I stay in the cabin first.... Wouldn't you?
Labels: Blue Spring State Park, boat, camp, children, family, frugal, fun, manatees, nature, snorkle, summer, swim, Travel, vacation, water, West Volusia, wildlife