Silver Springs Nature Park
is a 350-acre theme park, located at the headwaters of the Silver River, which is the largest artesian spring formation in the world. Just as it has for centuries, the spring pumps out 550 million gallons of sparkling-clear spring water every day. Surrounding the springs is a wonderful display of animals and nature unlike anyplace else in the world. The park’s unique blend of history, natural resources and wildlife is a fun and wonderful hands-on experience for everyone. Located just 90 miles north of Orlando, Silver Springs Nature Park has beautiful grounds for walking, where you can enjoy seeing some of Florida’s wildlife in their natural habitat, such as alligators, endangered bears and panthers. There are glass-bottomed boat rides, a petting zoo, concerts and other special events at the park, as well as education programs that offer a wealth of opportunities for children of all ages. In addition, Silver Springs Nature Park has a variety of rides and exhibits for the whole family, all set in a gorgeous, natural environment.
Silver Springs Address and Phone Number
Silver Springs Nature Park
5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd.
Silver Springs, FL 34488
Silver Springs Nature Park Rides and Attractions
Silver Springs Nature Park contains a variety of attractions such as wildlife exhibits, river cruises, botanical gardens and rides and other activities. One of the most impressive attractions is the glass-bottom boat ride, in operation since the late 1800s. Passengers sit comfortably in covered boats that give an unparalleled view of underwater life in 99.8 percent pure waters up to 80 feet deep. The boats, with U.S. Coast Guard licensed captains, take you on a spectacular tour of the seven major spring formations at the headwaters. Peer down through the glass at views usually seen only by scuba divers. Fish Hall Reception is one spring that is home to alligators, clams and crawfish, six different kinds of turtles and more, amidst a backdrop of tiny fossilized shells that are 70 million years old. Other river cruises include the Fort King Cruise which takes you through interactive exhibits and displays, including a working archaeological dig, a Seminole Indian village, the 1830s Fort King Army stockade, a late 1800s riverboat dock and train depot and an authentic Florida pioneer homestead. The Lost River Voyage transports passengers back to a time when Florida was wild and untouched with riverbanks lined with towering bald cypress trees, some more than 500 years old, and wildlife feeding in their natural habitat.
The wildlife exhibits at Silver Springs include Big Gator Lagoon, a one-acre cypress swamp habitat where guests can observe more than three dozen large alligators from the safety of an elevated boardwalk. Sobek, believed to be the world’s largest American crocodile lives at Big Gator Lagoon. Ross Allen Island features a collection of native snakes, turtles, arachnids (spiders), otters and other animals found in Florida, and the Kritter Korral features a variety of farm animals. The Panther Prowl is an extraordinary opportunity to view the Western cougar, a close cousin of the rare and endangered Florida panther—North America’s largest and most majestic wild cat. Two acres of outdoor habitats showcase a variety of rare and endangered bear species at World of Bears, the largest bear exhibit of its kind in the world.
The Lighthouse Ride at Silver Springs stands near the headwaters of the Silver River and is a combination carousel/gondola ride with a unique telescoping outer tower that rises 80 feet above the park. Up to six passengers can ride in each gondola and are treated to an unobstructed, panoramic view of the crystal clear river, landscaped grounds and wildlife. Fantastic Fountains Water Show features 1,000 water nozzles that spray more than 1,000 gallons of water per minute in a dazzling water dance that jumps, twists and swirls to a musical score of popular tunes. Kids Ahoy! Playland features a replica of an 1800s riverboat permanently anchored in a shallow lagoon. Other rides at the Playland include a 40-passenger carousel decorated with endangered wildlife, miniature motorboats, a Ferris wheel, cargo climb with net bridge, slides, crawl tubes and firemen’s poles. Other attractions include The Birds of the Rain Forest Show, The Birds of Prey Show, Reptiles of the World Show and the Non-Venomous Snake Show. Alligator and crocodile feedings are also presented in the park daily at 2:30 p.m.
In addition to all the rides, river cruises and wildlife exhibits, Silver Springs features beautiful botanical gardens with more than 138 varieties native and exotic plants showcased in floral sculptures and flower beds along the banks of the Silver River. It also offers special events and concert series throughout the year, and educational programs such as an Earth Camp for children and field trips.
Silver Springs History
Silver Springs has been thrilling guests with glass bottom boat rides since 1878, although its’ history as a place of unparalleled peace and beauty goes way back beyond that time. In the early 1500s, Timucuan Indians settled the area around Silver Springs, but other Indian tribes, including the Seminole Indians eventually succeeded them. Today, all of the glass bottom boats are named in honor of Indian leaders. In the 1850s, commerce was introduced to the Silver Springs area, and by 1860, conventional steamboats were being used on the river. About that time, tourists began flocking to Silver Springs to see the crystal-clear waters. Its’ popularity soared after Hullam Jones invented the glass bottom boat in 1878. He installed a glass viewing box on the flat bottom of a dugout canoe, which created a “window” that allowed passengers to view the underwater world teeming with fish, turtles, crustaceans and fossils more than 10,000 years old.
Silver Springs Nature Park Map (click on map for larger view)