Experience “Old Florida” at De Leon Springs State Park
The spring-fed swimming area at De Leon Springs State Park remains a cool 72 degrees year round. Long ago, locals renamed it the Fountain of Youth to attract visitors.
SENIOR LIFE Florida State Parks
a wonderful day trip to De Leon Springs State Park. The 625-acre De Leon Springs State Park features a 72 degree, spring-fed swimming area that produces 19-million gallons of water a day! Area residents once called it the fountain of youth!
The park’s visitor center features the park’s 6,000-year history, from the Native American Mayaca mound builders, to Spanish missions, plantations, slavery, the Civil War, skirmishes with the Seminole Indians, to the heydey of the 1960s attractions era and the famous water skiing elephant! It has hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, and a children’s educational area.
Wildlife viewing is plentiful and can be easily observed from an outdoor walkway: Otters, alligators, manatees, osprey, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and even a swimming black bear have been spotted. Take the Fountain of Youth Echo History Boat Tour and let Captain Frank fill you in on the history, and flora and fauna of the area. Tour boat excursions are available for a fee every day at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. except on Sunday. Call Captain Frank at 386-837-5537 or go to foytours.net for more information.
Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and tubing are favorite activities at the park. Canoeing, kayaking and paddle boat rentals are available year round. Paddle boats can be rented for 30 or 60 minutes. Canoes and kayaks are available by the hour, half-day and full day. Fishing and boating are popular as well.
The Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail, a four-mile loop, can be enjoyed by hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Bring your sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and register with the Park Ranger before hiking to make sure that the trail isn’t underwater.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House, “a 100-year-old replica of the original 1830s sugar mill”, according to the Florida State Parks website, is located inside the De Leon Springs State Park recreation area. Here, you can cook your own “Early American Pancakes” right at your own table! Add blueberries, applesauce, peanut butter, pecans, chocolate chips, bananas or apples, then pour the batter, and flip your pancakes. The restaurant also has full breakfast and lunch menu, too.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, but closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. For reservations call 386-985-5644.
De Leon Springs State Park is an easy 95-minute drive from Brevard County. Take Interstate 95 North to exit 249, DeLand/New Smyrna Beach. Then, take Route 44 West, and continue 20 miles to the city of DeLand.
Once you reach the city, head north on Route 17 for seven miles to the park entrance on your left. There is a modest park entry fee of $6 per vehicle, with a limit of eight people per car.