Florida: Suwannee River, Chill Your Toes in Pure Water.
Introducing kids to nature is the fun stuff. No script needed, Mother Nature provides a wide range of perfect settings to create adventures large and small. Along the dark and mysterious Suwannee River nature is at its best. Three remarkable parks, Manatee, Fanning and Hart, provide marvelous connecting points with the cooler side of Florida.
Cool, cool water. The world famous Suwannee River begins within the Okefenokee Swamp and flows more than 233 miles to embrace Florida’s Gulf Coast at Suwannee. Along the way it is nourished by more than 197 pristine fresh water springs with cool, cool water. How cool? The average temperature is 72 degrees any day of the year.
Remember the old swimming hole? On the unofficial “coolest list,” Hart Springs County Park has three refreshing springs to be enjoyed. The spring run connects to the steady three-miles-per-hour pace of the river. The park is a natural aquarium dreamland for swimming and snorkeling. Chill your toes; wade in knee deep or take a plunge, the clear cool springs invite everyone to chill out during tropical summer days. Discovery: Framed by a pristine cypress hammock, the half-mile boardwalk provides vantage points for view the antics of nature.
Count cooters along the banks. Downstream from Hart is Fanning State Park, the natural home of deer, hawks, owls, cooters, and more cool clear water. Fanning Spring is one of 27 first magnitude springs in Florida. Releasing more than 50 million gallons of water per day, it is one of the coolest places in Florida. Swimmers and snorkelers are drawn to the crystal clear pool created by the spring. Discovery: Open water scuba divers seek the spring run area and the 90- foot Union gunboat sunk near the mouth. Bonus points: The starry nights bring a chorus of frogs from the bald cypress swamp community bordering the springs and plenty of fireflies for natural good luck.
Watch sturgeon jump. While during the winter months manatees attract the attention of visitors, during the warmer month sturgeon provide plenty of excitement. From the boardwalk at Manatee Springs it is easy to watch gulf sturgeon taking flight over the water. The prehistoric fish often measuring more than six feet in length create an awesome display during early morning hours. The springs gush more than 100 million gallons of crystal clear water daily creating a nourishing lifeline for surrounding inhabitants and providing world class water recreation for visitors. Within the 2444 acre, park hiking, biking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are easy options.
Canoe with the flow. The ideal way to experience the natural beauty of the wilderness is to canoe or kayak the Suwannee. The 1,000-foot spring run offers paddlers a chance to warm up before accessing the Suwannee. Suwannee River Tours rents equipment to facilitate an excursion and also guides tours along the flow. From Manatee Springs State Park it is only 24 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The most popular adventure is the 9-mile route between Fanning and Manatee. Bonus points: Not into water with the kids? The Suwannee Bicycle Association has access to more than 700 miles of paths to pedal.
Cruise on your own. In the historic town of Suwannee, Miller’s Marine provides 44-foot houseboats ideal for a custom river adventure. The river is wide and steering is easy making the cruising part effortless. Once underway it takes only a matter of minutes to feel vacation mode taking hold. The obvious advantage of a houseboat is freedom to create the perfect holiday. Houseboating along the Suwannee River provides the chance to fish from the deck, swim in a crystal clear spring, observe the river wilderness, discover river towns and go with the flow.
Vacation Planning Details
Adventures in North Central Florida.
Suwannee River Tours.
1(352) 490-9797, 1-877-362-3213 or www.SuwanneeRiverTours.com
1(352) 542-7349, 1-800- 458-BOAT or www.suwanneehouseboats.com
Florida State Parks.
Information researched and written by staff at FamilyTravelFiles.com Copyright 2012. Images courtesy of Pure Water Wilderness.