Silver Springs is located in North/central Florida just Northeast of Ocala, and slightly West of the Ocala National Forest. As a Southerner, visiting Silver Springs as a child is a sort of "rite of passage". Pretty much anyone you meet from the Southeastern US has been to Silver Springs at some point in their life. They always remember the glass bottom boats, crystal clear water, alligators, and for those of us old enough to remember, a crazy guy that wrestled snakes. The Silver Springs of today has changed to a degree, but it's still on the same pristine piece of property and features many of the same incredible wildlife encounters as many years ago.
Silver Springs bills itself as "Nature's Theme Park", and that's a pretty accurate image. All of the rides are water, fauna, and flora themed. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, you'd better be scared of glass bottom boats. That's what this place is all about. But glass bottom boats are awesome, and don't forget it. Amusement parks around the world try to emulate what this place offers naturally. This is the real thing people!
While visiting Silver Springs, we camped in the Ocala National; Forest at Salt Springs RV Resort, and Salt Springs Recreation Area in Salt Springs, Florida. We saw a bear one evening along the road back to the campground.
When we first arrived, we didn't recognize the park. It was beautiful, yes, but there is a lot more parking than before. Silver Springs had apparently expanded considerably, but it looked very nice. We approached the ticket office and inquired about admission. Now, as a Southerner with four kids, and being a little cheap (as many Southerners with four children are), I wasn't expecting to pay nearly $180.00 for my family to enter Silver Springs. It certainly wasn't that expensive when I was a kid. However, as the day passed, and the people were so great, and the animals were so unique, and the sights were so amazing, I began to consider cost vs benefit. I compared the cost of a nice dinner for six to a day's worth of entertainment and education, and decided it was probably money well spent.
We initially thought we'd stay for just a short while, but we kept finding neat things to do and interesting people to talk to. Being a weekday in Winter, there were very few people, and there was no waiting. It was like having the park all to ourselves. As a bonus, the park was featuring a "Festival of Lights" event that was amazingly beautiful and fun.
Would I recommend
Silver Springs? Absolutely! But, if you want to enjoy the native
Florida fauna and flora for minimal cost, visit
Salt Springs Run marina and rent canoe for the day. It'll
cost a few bucks, and you'll see much of what you'll
see at Silver Springs, plus manatee!