De Leon Springs State Park
Florida, more specifically Orlando, is frequently named one of the top destinations for travel. Family friendly and cost effective, the majority of the millions who travel to Florida each year, do so for its many theme parks but Florida is much more than just theme parks. National parks, historic sites, restaurants, shops and state parks are just a few of the thousands of other ways to spend your time.
William Bailey Travel invites you to spend a day outside the theme parks on your next trip to Orlando and head to De Leon Springs State Park for an adventure you won’t soon forget.
Florida is diverse in terms of history and ecology. These and other features of Florida past and present are highlighted in the 171 state parks located throughout the states including one of its most famous, De Leon Springs State Park. Located less than an hour from Orlando, this historic and beautiful state park is a great way to spend the day.
The history of the park begins thousands of years ago with the first residents called the Mayaca. This early Native settlers are believed to have lived here for over 6,000 years. By the 1500’s, the first European explorers arrived and established missions in the area until the U.S. issued land grants to settlers from the area in the late 1780’s and the plantation life made its way here. By the late 1800’s, the area within the park called Spring Garden had become a popular tourist attraction and after a name change, Ponce de Leon Springs was born. From pancakes to the Fountain of Youth, there is always something to see and do at this lovely 625 acre state park.
Tour the Fountain of Youth on an Eco/Heritage boat tour. A 50 minute journey through the lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, this tour helps you learn more about the history of the springs and Ponce de Leon as well as enjoying the beauty of this natural area and the first residents of the area.
Enjoy a meal at the Sugar Mill Restaurant. Another of the parks key features is this popular 100 year old replica of the original 1830’s sugar mill once located on the plantation site. First opened in 1961, the restaurant features homemade pancakes made from stone-ground flour and lets you cook them yourself right at your own table. To complement the food, enjoy a variety of other foods and beverages as well.
Go for a hike and explore the area. From the short trails to see the park’s over 600 year old cypress to the longer 4.2 mile hiking trail into the wilder areas of the park, there are plenty of places to get your exercise here. For those looking to enjoy the water, go swimming, do some fishing, go snorkeling or rent a canoe, paddleboat or kayak from the park and explore the neighboring wildlife refuge. Explore the butterfly garden, check out the visitor center and just get to know this spectacular park and all it has to offer you and your family on your next vacation experience.
The next time you judge a destination by just one aspect it has to offer, remember the diversity of Florida and all the wonderful experiences it has to offer, and find out more.