By Natassja Prose, IG @proseandcompany
About an hour north of Tampa, you’ll find a little nostalgic Florida gem, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Buccaneer Bay. As Florida’s one and only spring-fed water park, this would make for a perfect summer day trip!
Weeki Wachee Springs is actually one of the deepest naturally-formed underwater caverns in the United States. It is so deep, the bottom has never been found! The spring is the start of the Weeki Wachee River, which flows 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Buccaneer Bay is a fun spot to discover and enjoy one of Florida’s crystal clear springs. There’s so much to do at Weeki Wachee, including catching one of the iconic live mermaid shows, but the fun doesn’t stop there.
Buccaneer Bay + Things to do at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Inside Buccaneer Bay, you can swim, float, snorkel and even slide directly into the spring. If you're bringing along the kids, there are two waterslides, the Cannonball and Pirates Revenge. The waterslides do have a height requirement of at least 42 inches for one and 48 inches for the other, so a quick height check would be a good idea before planning the visit.
If tubing down a natural lazy river along the chilly spring waters is more your speed, you can do that too! Tubes are available for an additional fee to relax and float down the lazy river of the state park. We spotted turtles and fish swimming along beside us while we floated in our tubes.
Once you’ve played in the spring water, you can break for lunch! Couples can bring a cooler with packed lunches or enjoy one of the four dining options at the park. Our family enjoyed grab and go options from Pirate’s Grubb and ate on one of the many picnic tables near the beach area.
After lunch and when you’ve warmed up from the cool spring water, reserve tickets ahead of time to watch one of the live mermaid shows at the park. The live mermaid shows are an iconic part of Weeki Wachee history. NOTE: Mermaid shows are temporarily on hold. Check here for the latest updates.
Additional activities like kayaking or paddling are available, but require reservations in advance. Rentals are available through Weeki Fresh Water Adventures.
Tips for planning your day trip to Weeki Wachee Springs:
Plan to arrive early, as in before the park opens. The park reaches capacity early in the day and once it does, they do not sell additional tickets for the day.
Pack for a beach day! There is a sandy beach area with a few beach chairs up for grabs, but they do fill up quickly. It’s a good idea to bring your own or a beach blanket.
Tubes are available for rent for the lazy river, so you aren’t allowed to bring your own floats.
Bring your snacks! Food is permitted at the park, but not in the theater during any of the live mermaid shows.
Park admission is $13 for adults and $8 for children ages 6 to 12. Ages five and under admitted free.
Feature image credit: Natassja Prose
This article originally appeared in our sister publication, Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine