A is for Armadillo… M is for Manatee! (Blue Springs State Park)

On previous trip to Florida I secretly wanted to see a manatee, and always gazed intently into every river, canal and waterway I could find. But to my dismay I never saw one. So this trip I was determined to maximise my chances. We planned a trip to Blue Springs State Park, about 1 hour’s drive from Orlando, Florida.

Blue Springs State ParkI was blown away by how beautiful it was. The trees were draped with Old Man’s Beard above an old white clapboard house like an old plantation house. We hurried to the river and saw some manatee-shaped shadows at the bottom of the river. However we were soon distracted by 3 turtles on a log in the river. This was so exciting! I ran back to the car to get my glasses as I realised that Seeing would be an important part of wildlife spotting.

Turtle on Log 1There was a lovely wooden boardwalk along the river with various viewing balconies overhanging the river.  We decided to take a stroll upstream and look for manatees. We didn’t have to go far – at the first viewing balcony, a family of manatees (including babies!) swam past, near the surface so we got a good view! It was lovely.

Manatee Family 1

BoardwalkWe admired a lovely mosaic sculpture of a manatee, and then continued our boardwalk stroll. As we went further from the river-mouth the boardwalk strayed away from the river and I started to look for alligators in the marshy streams below. I didn’t see any!  What I did see though delighted me!

I heard a rustling in the undergrowth and looked round expecting to see a rat, and there was… an Armadillo!!! I was SO excited and hurriedly gestured to my BF to come over. Mr Armadillo didn’t stick around long so my only photo is of his bottom, but you can still tell it’s an Armadillo! My Armadillo-related knowledge is limited to the Daim Bar adverts from about 10 years ago – Soft on the Inside, Crunchy on the Outside…. Armadillo!!

Armadillo 1We walked to the source of the spring. The water was a crystal clear blue, which I guess is why Manatees love it, and why we love it as we can see the manatees! There were a few people kayaking which annoyed me, as they wanted the best view of the Manatees so were heading straight for them. If they’re endangered I would have thought it was best to leave them alone and not risk stressing them!

We then headed for the mouth of the river. From source to mouth is perhaps 30 minutes walk, although longer if you’re gonna stop to look for wildlife! There was a gift shop half-way down which was really cute.

At the mouth of the river were were lucky enough to see a manatee at close range – or its nose anyway, poking through the weeds on the river. It was so close we could see its whiskers!

We grabbed some lunch and then drove to Daytona Beach, where I’m told they race cars on the beach. We saw the famous race-track. But on the day we went the wind was howling and the tide was so high, the sea was almost going into the toilets at the back of the beach road. Not a day to go to the beach!

Daytona BeachOverall Blue Springs State Park was delightful and I’m so glad we went! 🙂

Travel Tips

  • As Blue Springs is a State Park, you have to pay $6 per car to go in. Take some cash!
  • You can spend the night in Blue Springs State Park, but it is certainly driveable from Orlando.
  • Driving Orlando – Blue Springs State Park – Daytona Beach and back in 1 day is perhaps a bit too ambitious – we did it but it was tiring by the end.
  • Take binoculars or similar to enjoy a good view of the wildlife.

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