When most people think of Florida's top attraction, they think Disney World. As a fifth generation Florida native, I feel it's my duty to provide some advice on the Sunshine State's must-see destinations. In my opinion, the mouse house isn't in Florida's top 10 - or top 20 for that matter. Sorry, Mickey.
Florida has a rich history and an abundance of natural beauty waiting to be explored. Our state parks offer a glimpse of our great state's original landscape and wildlife - and there are many to choose from. My FAVORITE state park is Weeki Wachee Springs, located on the Gulf Coast in Springhill, about an hour north of Tampa. It opened as a privately owned theme park in 1947 and is by far Florida's most unique roadside attraction.
This spring is much more than a swimming hole - it's a magical place where mermaids enchant visitors during daily performances. Yes. REAL. LIVE. MERMAIDS. There's also the occasional manatee and lots of fish and turtles.
I had the privilege of attending mermaid camp at this legendary park in September of 2012. It certainly was the most amazing experience of my life. Swimming in that incredible spring is invigorating and magical.
In addition to the mermaid shows, the park offers wildlife exhibits, river tours, a spring-fed water park called Buccaneer Bay, and canoe/kayak rentals. I brought my stand-up paddle board and Justin and my dad rented a canoe for a 5-mile, one-way trip down the Weeki Wachee River. The water is crystal clear with a nice current that carries you through the preserve. Midway through our paddle, we stopped at a rope swing and took a dip in the 72-degree water - refreshing! The rental company provides transportation back to the launch, so you don't have to fight the current on your return trip.
Our trip to Weeki Wachee was pre-Airstream, but we certainly intend on returning to camp. NaturallyHernando.org is a great resource for locating accommodations and campgrounds in the area. Learn more about Weeki Wachee by visiting WeekiWachee.com, or call (352) 592-5656.