Explore the natural beauty of Ocala at Silver Springs, a natural spring that pumps out 550 million gallons of natural water daily.  Surrounding the springs are animals and foliage unique to the area.  There are several river cruises you can check out, including the Lost River Voyage, Fort King River Cruise, and Glass Bottom Boats.  The Lost River Voyage takes you back to ‘untouched’ Florida, the way it was thousands of years ago.  See wildlife such as osprey, turtles, and alligators in their natural habitat.  The Fort King River Cruise is a historical journey that includes displays and interactive exhibits such as a late 1880s train depot and riverboat dock, 1830s Fort King Army stockade, a Seminole Indian village, and more.  The glass bottom boat tours give you a view only scuba divers could have – clear views of underwater life such as crawfish, shrimp, snails, clams, turtles, and 70 million year old shells.

There are several wildlife exhibits including the World of Bears, the largest bear exhibit of its kind in the world.  You can also check out Big Gator Lagoon, a swamp habitat featuring some of Florida’s largest gators.  Ross Allen Island showcases many other animals native to Florida, such as turtles, otters, snakes, and spiders.  Don’t forget to visit the Panther Prowl and the Kritter Korral petting zoo.

There are also rides, shows, shopping and dining.  You can witness the alligator and crocodile feedings, a non-venemous snake show, and reptiles of the world.  The lighthouse ride takes you up 80 feet above the springs for a panoramic view of this natural spring area.  Other activities include Kids Ahoy Playland, where you’ll find mini motorboats, a ferris wheel, slides and crawl tubes, and more.

Exotic and native plants are featured at the beautiful Botanical Gardens, where you can see more than 138 varieties in floral sculptures and flower beds along the river.

While you’re there, cool off at the Wild Waters water park. You can soak up the sun and cool off in the 450,000 gallon wave pool or on the many water slides.  (Seasonal – check website to make sure they’re open.)

Orlando Tourist Tip: Like music concerts? Check Silver Springs’ web site before planning a day there. They have a great concert series and many performances begin in the middle of the afternoon. Go early to the park and enjoy a relaxing concert in the afternoon. Tickets are additional, but a great way to spend an entire day!

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