Located in the central and charming Ocala, Florida, Silver Springs State Park has been a natural landmark since the 1870s. As Florida’s first tourist attraction and one of the largest artesian springs in the world, the park quickly became renowned for the Glass Bottom Boat tours: guided boat rides where guests could travel around the spring on a vessel with a clear bottom in order to view life underwater. Today, visitors still enjoy the Glass Bottom Boat tours on top of the same crystal springs that have been inviting admirers for decades and sustaining a wealth of aquatic life.
Silver Springs is often called the gateway to the Ocala National Forest, the second largest, most southern National Forest east of the Mississippi. The springs feeds into the Silver River, a 4.5 mile stream that flows east from the springs to the Ocklawaha river.
Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971, Silver Springs State Park and the surrounding areas offer a wealth of cultural and historical significance. Dating back to the 1500s, indian settlers resided around Silver Springs, a tangible reminder of their presence, a dugout canoe, can be seen resting on the bed of the Silver River. Years later, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto moved to the area, his visit is thought to be the first European to experience the park.