De Leon Springs State Park, DeLand
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Although swimming in a freshwater spring is one of the peak experiences in life, De Leon Springs has a few things working against it. It has been concreted in to make a pool, which takes away from the natural beauty. It still looks lovely, with the waters of Spring Garden Lake behind the concrete pool but it isn't surrounded by lush tropical rainforest like Blue Spring State Park. One perk with having it be enclosed in concrete is that you are unlikely to encounter an alligator. Another is that my seven-year-old loved the shallow section, which was much less intimidating than swimming at Blue Spring State Park where you have to enter deeper, moving water.
The second downside (this was on a weekday afternoon) is the overweight crowd.
Lastly, because the flow of the headspring is impeded by the concrete enclosure, there are balls of slimy stuff floating around in the water.
I still had a wonderful swim in the cold water on a very hot August day. And I still felt inspired, but I don't think I'll return to this one.
If you come on the weekend, come early because the park often reaches maximum capacity before 10am. There is also a long line at Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, which is right at the pool. We bought cookies at the bakery in the restaurant but they weren't fresh.
From the spring, you can take a 50-minute Eco-Tour boat ride on the spring run. There is also a small playground, plenty of shade, and park benches.
After a swim, head to the town of DeLand which has a pretty university, Stetson University, and some nice restaurants.
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De Leon Springs State Park is located at 601 Ponce Deleon Blvd, De Leon Springs FL 32130.
Open daily 8am-sundown. Entry costs $6 per car.
On weekends come early because it fills to capacity by around 10am.
Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant is open 9-5 weekdays and 8-5 weekends. Closed on Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
Eco-Tour Boat Ride $14 per person, call (386) 837-5537.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.