Silver Springs, Florida – why everyone should leave Disney for a day

Posted on September 15, 2013

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We love Disney and any trip to Orlando with children will inevitably mean spending time with ‘the mouse’ and of course all of the other theme parks and family entertainment. Children love it, ours included, and I’m certainly not knocking it…there’s nothing quite like it.

But we also love to see what else Orlando has to offer aside from the theme parks and our absolute favourite day trip has to be to the wonderful park of Silver Springs, Florida. It is an hour and a half drive north of Orlando and is a world away from the modern attractions of Florida, and every bit as entertaining.

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Silver Springs is in the process of being turned into a National Park and is full of the faded, ghosts of yesteryear. It was almost completely empty when we were there but the huge restaurants and ice cream parlours spoke of a time, before Disney, when this would have been full of holidaymakers out for a fun day trip.

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Silver Springs is famous for its glass bottom boat trips at the head of the Silver River and is the main attraction still running at the park.

It felt really sad to see somewhere that would once have been bustling and full of life, reduced to a ghost town. You could almost hear the laughter that once was there and see the queues of people lining up where now there’s just the rope to separate the lines that simply aren’t there.

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On the day we visited there were a handful of people there and the trips on the glass bottomed boats were quiet, peaceful and an absolutely joy.

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Manned by ex US Coast Guards who really know their stuff and who were just so interesting to listen to, you take a tour around the beautiful river, seeing all of the wildlife around and under you.

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I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed this. In fact we loved it so much we took two boat trips! With alligators on the banks, turtles and a huge array of fish swimming under us, it was mesmerising for all of us – from the 1 year old upwards. You can buy little tubs of fish food to feed the fish as you go around which we also did.

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I would urge you, if you’re going to Orlando, visit Silver Springs. Check the website first as things are inevitably going to change there. But it’s so important to visit these places which offer a real insight into the local wildlife and to show children they don’t need to have a manufactured theme park to have a great day out. And if we – the tourists – don’t support it, we will be wasting such a great opportunity to show our children what is really important about travel and adventure.

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