Backyard Road Trip: 5 Things to do at Wakulla Springs State Park

We live in Tallahassee, FL and on weekends we like to explore our own backyard for simple one-day adventures. We typically stay within a two hour radius from where we live to keep our adventures close by.

The best thing about this area is the proximity to such beautiful natural wonders such as the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. The park is about 30 minutes south of Tallahassee and here are our Top 5 Things To Do.

1. Eat Breakfast at the Wakulla Springs Ballroom.

Before exploring the park, fill up on a grand breakfast at the Edward Ball Dining Room and get transported to a golden time in history. Walk into the elegant ballroom with high coffered ceilings, scrolled chandeliers, large arched windows, and checkerboard marble floors. Big band music plays softly while vested staff seats you at your table with white linens and a classic place setting.

Breakfast at the Edward Ball Dining Room is served from 7:30 am to 11:00 am and they serve delicious southern breakfast favorites. Make sure to get there well before the 11:00 am cutoff because a few menu items were not offered and they had started to transition to the lunch menu at around 10:30.

2. The Architecture of the Lodge

The Spanish style Lodge was built in 1937 by financier Edward Ball and his dream was to create a unique retreat for wealthy travelers. Ball hired artisans and imported the most luxurious material. No detail was left un-designed.

The immaculate architectural details have been recently restored to their original glory. The lobby floor is lined with Tennessee Marble in a Checkerboard pattern. Look up for the famous cypress ceilings that were locally sourced from “heart” cypress and hand painted with intricate details.

A large stone fire place warms up the lobby and don’t forget to check out the lobby’s famous resident, Old Joe.

The Lodge is a fully functioning hotel and people can make reservations all year long to enjoy this beautiful place.

3. Jungle Cruise

The Jungle Cruise is by far my favorite thing to do at Wakulla Springs. The one hour boat tour takes you down the Wakulla River in an open air boat. The tour is about $8 a person and it is well worth the cost. A knowledgeable park ranger leads the tour and be prepared to be amazed.

This portion of the Wakulla River is relatively undisturbed. No hunting or fishing is allowed and the tour boats are the only form of motorized boats allowed. The pristine nature of the river allows for a ton wildlife sightings from alligators, turtles, birds and manatees.

Due to the proximity of the spring, the water is crystal clear and you can see straight to the bottom in most areas. The kids LOVE this and the adults do too! It was so much fun exploring this undisturbed piece of nature.

Did you know:

Movies such as Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Around the World Under the Sea, and Airport 77 were filmed at Wakulla Springs?

4. Take a Dip in the Spring

The spring keeps a constant 70 degrees year around, making it a very refreshing dip in the heat of summer. The water is very cold but if you can stand the initial shock it is so refreshing. Dive off of the diving platform into the 185 foot deep spring or cool off under the trees.

The tree lined beach is more of a shaded sandy area with spots of green grass. This is not a sugary white sandy beach, but it makes for a perfect spot to spread out a beach mat and enjoy the afternoon. My boys definitely did!

5. Hop into the Soda Fountain

Hop back in time to the fully functioning Soda Fountain. Grab a Root Beer Float, Cherry Phosphate, Ginger Yip or a Sundae to finish off your day. They have a huge assortment of candy and a great selection keepsakes at the Gift Shop.

The Wakulla Lodge and Springs is only a 30 minute drive south of Tallahassee. We spent the day here and it was a great experience for the entire family.

Check out my must haves for a trip to the beach.

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