Visit Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Imagine drifting down a crystal-clear river, spotting fish, turtles, and even manatees through the pristine waters. Then you take your seat for an incredible live mermaid show. 

You watch in awe as these performers execute a choreographed underwater ballet 20 feet below the surface.  Welcome to the magical Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, tucked along Florida’s Gulf Coast, just an hour north of Tampa.

This enchanting park offers a trifecta of fun: a lush natural spring, a one-of-a-kind mermaid theater, and a delightful waterpark. Let’s dive into how you can spend an amazing day experiencing all the underwater wonders of Weeki Wachee.

How to Spend an Amazing Day at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

How to Spend an Amazing Day at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

At first glance, Weeki Wachee appears to be divided into three distinct areas:

  1. Buccaneer Bay – This spring-fed waterpark features massive waterslides, a sandy beach, swimming areas, and more.
  2. Mermaid Amphitheater – Home to the world-famous underwater mermaid shows, along with gift shops and dining.
  3. Weeki Fresh Water Adventures – The only place within the park where you can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) to explore the Weeki Wachee River.

It’s important to note that your park entrance fee covers Buccaneer Bay and the mermaid shows, but kayak/SUP rentals require an additional cost. Due to the park’s efforts to reduce environmental impact, capacity is limited, so arrive early – even before the 9 AM opening time if possible.

Read More Post : Top Ten Things to Do on Anastasia Island

Paddling the Weeki Wachee River

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of visiting Weeki Wachee is the opportunity to paddle down the stunning Weeki Wachee River. This waterway flows 12 miles from the park’s bubbling natural spring all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Smart Tip: Sign up for kayak or SUP rentals online in advance through Weeki Fresh Water Adventures. Spots fill up quickly!

We opted for tandem kayaks and brought our own inflatable SUP – so convenient since they pack down into a roller bag. Once you launch, you’ll gently float 2.8 miles downstream, requiring minimal paddling effort. The entire journey is spent gazing through the incredibly clear water, spotting vibrant fish, basking turtles, and if you’re lucky, manatees or alligators!

You don’t need to pay the state park entrance fee for river kayaking. Simply follow the signs to the separate parking area behind the main lot to access the kayak rental pavilion.

The Weeki Wachee Mermaids

Watching the live mermaid show is an absolute must during your Weeki Wachee visit. This quirky yet beloved attraction has been delighting audiences since 1947 when it opened as a roadside stop along U.S. Highway 19.

Mermaid Show Facts
Performed 20 feet below in a natural spring with strong currents
400-seat underwater amphitheater
Mermaids execute choreographed routines and even eat/drink underwater
Have entertained celebrities like Elvis Presley and Jimmy Buffett

The mermaids put on 2-3 shows per day, each about 30 minutes long. Even though the amphitheater is huge, these shows are wildly popular, so get in line very early to snag a seat. You may even spot mermaids posing for photos around the park grounds!

As Sebastian the crab sang, Under the sea, life is better… and at Weeki Wachee, that old adage rings true. Surrounding the mermaid theater, you’ll find a restaurant, gift shop, wildlife exhibits with roaming peacocks, and the start point for river cruises.

Swimming in Buccaneer Bay

Swimming in Buccaneer Bay

Ready to take the plunge yourself? Head over to Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s one and only spring-fed waterpark! Let the kids go wild on the two enormous water slides that spill into the crystal-clear spring waters below. You’ll also find:

  • A large sandy beach perfect for splashing and sunbathing
  • Designated swimming and snorkeling areas
  • A huge floating dock for jumping and playing
  • Lifeguards stationed throughout for safety
  • A wading pool for little ones
  • Snack bars and the Weeki Hut swim-up bar for adults

As you bask in the refreshingly cool spring water, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty surrounding you. Lush palm trees and vibrant flowers line the premises, creating a true tropical oasis.

Tubing down the Weeki Wachee River

If kayaking seems like too much effort, you can opt for a leisurely tubing experience along a separate section of the Weeki Wachee River right within the park. Gently bob along and let the gentle spring-fed current whisk you away as you soak up some sun.

Tube rentals are available in an area next to Buccaneer Bay’s swimming zone. As with the kayak rentals, you’ll be transported downstream and can simply hop on a shuttle back to your starting point once you’re done floating.

Tips for Spending a Day at Weeki Wachee

Tips for Spending a Day at Weeki Wachee

To ensure your Weeki Wachee adventures go as smoothly as a mermaid’s choreography, keep these tips in mind:

 Arrive Very Early – As mentioned, the park enforces strict capacity limits. Arriving before opening or extremely early is advisable, especially on weekends and holidays.

Plan Around Mermaid Shows – Check show times and snag a spot in line at least 30-60 minutes beforehand to secure seats at the underwater theater.

What to Bring – Pack a cooler with food/drinks (no alcohol allowed in park), sunscreen, beach chairs, beach towels, water shoes, dry clothes, hat, sunglasses, and anything else to be comfy.

Backup Plans – Have a backup plan in case the park reaches capacity before your arrival, like hitting nearby beaches.

See Weeki Wachee Photos Online – Get a visual preview of this underwater wonderland!

Following this advice will help maximize your enjoyment of Weeki Wachee’s mermaid magic, natural beauty, and family-friendly adventures. Who’s ready to spend an epically amazing day surrounded by Florida’s clearest spring waters?

Leave a Comment