Why you should visit Silver Springs, What to do there, and what to bring!

Silver Springs is one of our favorite places to visit! There is a long list of things to do there, including Canoing/kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, and hiking trails through the state park.

Silver Springs state park is easy accessible, with ample parking. You can choose to park at the entrance to the trails and tourist center, or in closer proximity to the boat launch.

Boat rental are reasonably priced and are charged by the hour, or you can choose to do the complete 5 mile paddle (with shuttle return transport) which takes 3-4 hours. You can also bring your own boat if you’d like. There are life jackets for rent, included in your boat rental.

What Will I See if i Paddle?

The most popular reason to visit Silver Springs is the wildlife! Manatee, in particular, abound! Last time we canoed there, we saw 5 manatee swimming together. You are able to get fairly close to them as long as you are gentle and quiet. We also tend to see monkeys in the tree tops, many different species of fish, and lots of turtles sunning themselves on logs. If you have calm dogs who have been boating before, this can be a really fun dog-friendly activity! OF NOTE: the park does not allow dogs in rental watercraft, so if you are bringing dogs you need to bring your own boat. I would not recommend bringing children younger than 3, as your child will need to sit calmly in your canoe or kayak and wear a life jacket for the duration of the paddle. Use your mom/dad judgement about your specific child.

  • You can also launch your stand-up paddle board here
  • if launching your own vessel, there is a $4 fee, in addition to $2 park admission

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

  • two options: 30 minute tour or extended 90 minute tour
  • kid friendly! kids 6-12 get a reduced ticket price of $12 for the 30 minute tour. kids 5 and under are FREE!
  • pets are NOT allowed on the glass-bottom boat tours.

The Glass Bottom Boat tours are the primary attraction at Silver Springs. Florida Lore states that glass bottom boats were actually invented here ! The tours have been running since the 1870s, and include a fun history lesson about Silver Springs; you’ll learn all about the Hollywood films made here, how the monkeys got here, and more. You’ll explore the springs and see countless species of fish. For further information, or to book a tour (we highly recommend booking in advance as they do sell out!) go to their website: https://silversprings.com/glass-bottom-boats/

Walking Trails

The trails vary in length, from less than one mile to a 4 mile loop. Each trail is unique, and they are color-coded! If you are looking for a family-friendly nature walk, this is it. My toddler loves to wander the trails, picking up sticks and rocks along the way. Below is the trail map , which comes directly from the State park website. This is also available as a free download online.


We have not personally camped at Silver Springs as we live close by, but you can ! There are cabins which house up to 6 people and have central heating/cooling (my favorite option if camping with young kiddos), RV sites, and ‘primitive camping sites’ for reservation. Book well in advance, as Florida campsites fill up quickly during the cooler months ! To book or get more information, go here https://www.reserve.floridastateparks.org/Web/

What should I bring?

What to pack will largely depend on what you plan to do there and how long you’re staying, especially if you plan to camp! However, here are a few of our favorite essentials for a day canoeing on the springs:

  • Sunscreen: our family generally uses reef-safe/eco-friendly sunscreen if we are participating in activities where there will be wildlife. Another good option is to use rash guards, hats, and other protective clothing to shield yourself from the Florida sun! However, you should definitely wear sunscreen on any exposed skin. I have always been a fan of Earth Mama products, ever since my days of nursing my babies. They make an eco-friendly sunscreen that is also safe to put on kids.
  • A Hat: IF you want to look cool like my husband (pictured above), or more importantly, to shield yourself from the sun- get yourself a nice floppy hat
  • Doggie Life Vest: essential if you’re bringing pups on the water, especially if your dog can get a little wild or excited if they see a turtle, leaf, monkey or manatee! Hazel is wearing one by Outward Hound.

Will I See Gators??

It is highly possible you will see gators along the banks of the springs. This is a known gator habitat. It is important to note that you CANNOT SWIM at Silver Springs. We often see alligators while paddling and they are generally not dangerous or aggressive. They will not bother you, as long as you stay away. Whatever you do, do not feed the gators.

For More Information:

To get more information on visiting Silver Springs, go to the website http://www.silversprings.com. There, you will find a complete list of available activities, campsites, dining options, and more.

We hope you enjoy your trip!