Blue Spring State Park in Orange City is a designated manatee refuge. You can see the manatees in the clear spring water from the boardwalk in the winter. The number of manatees visiting the park has increased from 36 in the 1970’s to over 500 manatees today.
All water activities are closed mid Nov-Mar. Swimming with the manatees is not permitted. But you can still hike, have a picnic, walk the boardwalk or play on the playground. There is a gift shop, bathrooms and a historical Thursby house too.
I went on Friday to chaperone my son’s elementary school class field trip. There was still a long of cars to get into the park. The cost is $6 per vehicle. It was a 45 minute drive away.