Silver Springs State Park is one of the top 10 Florida state parks to visit. Located in Marion County in the city of Ocala, Florida, you can find this gem. Surrounded by crystal clear waters from Silver Springs and Silver River, you are sure to have stunning landscape, monkey interactions, and even water activities for the entire family to enjoy.
This state park has become a nature adventure point in Central Florida while also attracting tourists from across the world to experience the serene landscape of Silver Springs. You are also sure to find fun paddling adventures, historic museums, tours on their world famous glass bottom boats and much more.
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History of Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs Florida has been a popular spot for adventurous travelers since the 1820’s, shortly after Florida’s annexation. By 1850, Silver Springs had grown to be a commercial distribution center for crops, tobacco, and supplies as the area of Ocala, Florida continued to grow and expand. After the Civil War it continued to grow popularity for tourists as they wondered to explore the springs in the area by steamboat. As popularity grew, the area continued to grow and start to create more accomodations for the tourists. By 1924, the glass bottom boats appeared and became a big hit for Silver Springs and continue to be a popular tour today. By 2013, Florida Park Service took control of this area and merged it with the former Silver Springs State Park and it is now the state park that is known today.
Did you know that Hollywood has filmed some movies here at Silver Springs as well? At least 20 movies were filmed in this Florida destination. Some of the movies that were filmed here are:
- James Bond movie Moonraker, Creature from the Black Lagoon
- Six Tarzan flicks
- Rebel Without a Cause
- Disntant Drums
- Legend with Tom Cruise
- and many more…
To read more in depth of the history of Silver Springs State Park go here.
Planning Your Trip to Silver Springs State Park
There is plenty to do at Silver Springs but to truly make the most of your day please continue to read this guide as there will be helpful tips on how to plan your trip and even a free pocket guide to keep handy during your trip.
Silver Springs State Park is a perfect day trip or weekend trip destination offering a wide variety of things to do. At this state park in Florida you can find things like camping, hiking, kayaking, bike riding, museums, tours, and more. However, I want to make sure you enjoy the best that this state park has to offer so you can make the most of your trip.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your trip to Silver Springs park.
- Make sure to make any reservations in advance especially for the glass bottom boat tour, kayaking, and camping.
- Bring plenty of hydration and snacks for the day.
- Bring good walking shoes. Some of the hiking trails are a bit long.
- Check the weather before you travel and come prepared.
- To save money on food, bring a small cooler with your lunch and drinks and enjoy a picnic at one of their picnic tables. Splurge a little at the shop and on ice cream instead.
Cost to Visit Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park does have an entry fee of $2.00 USD per person. Kayaking, museums, and tours have an additional cost and may need prior reservations to be made. Check their website here for more information on Silver Springs State Park tickets and reservations.
Best Things To Do at Silver Springs State Park
While there are many fun things to do at Silver Springs here are some of our top recommendations for you.
- Walk the boardwalk and view the monkeys climbing in the trees.
- Book a Silver Spring Glass Bottom Boat tour.
- Go on a paddling adventure on Silver Springs. Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board and go on a 3-4 hour self-guided paddling excursion through Silver Springs and Silver River.
- Go on a hike on one of their many trails.
- Explore the botanical gardens.
- Go bird watching on the trails.
- Up your photography game by taking pictures of flowers, monkeys, pristine landscapes, and more.
Kayaking at Silver Springs
A very popular thing to do at Silver Springs is kayaking. You can also rent a canoe or a stand-up paddle board if you prefer that instead. There are also clear kayaks available but are more limited and cost a bit more to rent.
Because this is a popular activity to do at Silver Springs, it is best to make your reservations ahead of time. You can also bring your own canoe, kayak, or paddle board but there is a launch fee of $4 per vessel. Price may change over time so refer to the link below for the most up to date prices.
My husband actually took me on a kayaking trip here a few years ago and it was absolutely relaxing. We had so much fun and took about 2 hours to paddle through the springs. We saw a lot of wildlife but definitely missed the monkeys during our first trip. Can’t wait to go paddling again but next time with our kiddos. I’m sure this will be something that they would really enjoy doing.
Glass Bottom Boat Tours
The glass bottom boat tours have been around since 1924 and continues to be a world famous tourist attraction at Silver Springs State Park till this day. However, because of its popularity, it is best to make reservations ahead of time. The tour takes about 30 minutes altogether. Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your boat’s departure time. On your agenda just make sure to put an hour out for the entire time for your glass bottom boat tour. You can make your reservations through the link below.
Hiking at Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs has many hiking trails for you to enjoy throughout the park. You can find a wide variety of wildlife throughout the trails including monkeys climbing on the trees. These nature trails range in length from less than a mile to about 4.1 miles. You can download the hiking trail map here and more specific hiking details below.
- Creek Trail – 0.75 mile loop
- Spring Connector Trail – 2.3 miles one way or 4.1 mile loop
- Sandhill Trail – 1.7 mile loop
- Sinkhole Trail – 2.2 mile loop
- Old Field Loop – 0.8 mile loop
- Swamp Trail – 1.9 mile loop
- River Trail – 1.3 mile loop
For more specific details about each trail go here.
Camping at Silver Springs State Park
Want to enjoy Silver Springs for a longer timeframe? Book a camping trip. You have different options for camping at Silver Springs. These camping options are:
- Renting a cabin – They have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom cabins that have a full dining area, stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and gas fireplace. Each cabin can sleep up to six people comfortably.
- RV and Tent sites – There are 59 spacious sites in two campground loops that are perfect for large camping unites with a max length of 50 feet. Tent camping is also an option as well as car camping. Each campsite has water and electric hook-up along with a fire ring, grill, and picnic table.
- Primitive Camping – This camping option is also available. Each site has a picnic table and fire rings but no shower facilities.
Other Things To Do at Silver Springs State Park
- Silver River Museum
- Visit the Education Center
- Check out Cracker Village
- Attend an event at the state park
Silver Springs State Park – Day Trip Itinerary
Silver Springs State Park can be done in one day if you plan it right. Here is a tentative itinerary to help you plan your day trip.
- Arrive right when the park opens at 8am to make the most of your day. You can check the park hours and park rules here. Don’t forget to take a picture by the big Silver Springs sign at the entrance.
- Do the boardwalk trail and see if you can spot any monkeys along the side of the spring. Don’t forget to stop and take in the views as you go.
- Do a glass bottom boat tour in the morning or go kayaking. If you make reservations for kayaking., I would do this first thing in the morning and book the boat tour for later in the afternoon. This will give you plenty of time in between to do other things and not rush from one main event to another.
- Between the two events (the boat tour or kayaking) you can go have a picnic and walk through the botanical garden. Don’t forget to grab yourself an ice cream to eat on the way.
- If you book a kayaking excursion for the afternoon I would recommend to shoot for noon to 1pm as your start time.
- Afterwards you can do a hiking trail, check out the museum, or go to the boardwalk to find monkeys if you missed them the first time.
- For dinner you can check out their restaurant or food truck and enjoy a delicious meal in the botanical garden or picnic area by the spring.
- Don’t forget to check out the souveneir shop on your way out to grab a keepsake of your trip to Silver Springs State Park. We like to collect stickers, magnets, ornaments, patches, and pins.
PRO PLANNING TIP:
Book your tours and kayak rentals and work around your reservation times. If you have a boat tour at 10am and kayaking at 1pm then you should have about an hour window between the two reservations to have a picnic and grab an ice cream. Please keep in mind that a boat tour may take 30 minutes for a regular boat tour and up to an hour for the extended boat tour. As for a kayaking trip it can be 1 to 4 hours depending on the type of reservation that you make and the trip that you are making but the shorter trip can take 1-2 hours.
What to Pack for a Day Trip to Silver Springs State Park
For a day trip to Silver Springs I would defintely recommend packing a small backpack with you. Some of the essentials I would have for my family are:
- A small backpack
- If you have a toddler or baby I would make sure to have what you need for them in their diaper bag.
- A drink
- Mosquito repellent
- Comfortable shoes
- Water shoes for kayaking
- Small first aid kit
- Wallet and ID
- Portable phone charger
- Food for lunch unless you plan to eat there for both lunch and dinner.
- Women hygiene essentials
- Wipes – I always carry wipes on me to clean my children’s hands and faces or wipe down any surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer
- Extra outfit for little ones
Please adjust this packing list accordingly. I do pack for kids so I have more snacks and extra items than what two grown adults would have to pack for themselves for a day.
Where to Stay in Ocala, Florida near Silver Springs
There are several places to stay at near Silver Springs State Park. Most of these are heading closer to town by fairly close about a 5-10 minutes drive from the state park. These are the most recommended places to stay in Ocala.
- Victorian Manor – 5.3 miles / 10 minutes away
- Holiday Inn Express – 0.4 miles / 2 minutes away
- Vacation Villa – 2.4 miles / 5 minutes away
- Hilton Grand Inn – 5.6 miles / 12 minutes away
- Equus Inn – 9.5 miles / 24 minutes away
There’s other places to stay at such as vacation rentals and hotels that are nice and between 10 – 30 minutes away. You can use the map below to view more options that better fit your need. Your better options would be heading west (left) on the map below until you reach I75. Anything between the interstate and Silver Springs State Park will be your best bet to finding a good place to stay.
Frequently Asked Questions for Visiting Silver Springs
Below I am going to answer some frequently asked questions for the park to help make your trip planning a bit easier. You can also find more FAQ on their website here.
Can you swim in Silver Springs?
Swimming is not allowed but boating, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding are good alternatives for water fun.
How much does Silver Springs State Park cost?
Admission is $2 per person and children of the age of 5 and under are free.
Does Silver Springs State Park have monkeys?
Yes there are monkey at Silver Springs State Park. However, you should never make contact with them as they may have zoonotic diseases. Admire them from a distance as you see them climbing and jumping from tree to tree.
Does Silver Springs State Park have alligators?
The springs are home to alligators and many other wildlife. You can learn more here.
How big is Silver Springs State Park?
It is about 4,000 acres with one of America’s largest springs. Learn more about the park here.
Where is Silver Springs State Park located?
Silver Springs is located in Ocala, Florida and is home to Silver River and Silver Springs.
Is Silver Springs State Park dog friendly?
Well-behaved dogs are welcomed but should always be on a leash. Owners are expected to clean up after their pets and always take care of them.
Conclusion of Our Trip to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida
Overall, we really enjoyed our visit to Silver Springs. The park was beautiful and there was so much to do throughout the day. There was no need to rush through everything so we had enough time to sit down and eat, walk through the park, and enjoy everything that it has to offer. Some of the things we really enjoyed was watching the monkeys climb on the trees, starring at the beautiful water, and taking lots of pictures on the trails.