There is, perhaps, no roadside stop in Florida more iconic than Weeki Wachee Springs. Anyone who has ever driven south through Orlando or Tampa knows the place, which has a classic kitsch factor found at other attractions like the Fountain of Youth.
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The Seminole tribe first discovered the spring that the park and town are named after, calling it Weeki Wachee, which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The freshwater spring is so deep that the bottom has never been reached, but it is estimated to be at least 400 feet of fresh water, making it the deepest in the United States. In 1946, former Navy SEAL Newton Perry developed a system of breathing underwater with tubes of air, a system that led to the creation of the famous mermaid shows.
The Weeki Wachee mermaids are the biggest draw of the attraction, performing in three daily shows to the submerged theater of tourists since 1947. They’ve been featured on countless television shows and, most recently, a Kelly Clarkson music video. The mermaids undergo months of training before they are allowed to don their tails.
In addition to the mermaid show, visitors can scuba dive in the springs, splash around at the Buccaneer Bay water park, rent a kayak to see more of the area or just hang out on the beach. Weeki Wachee Springs is also a good place to spot wildlife, including manatees, bald eagles, and fish.
If You Go
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is located at 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, Florida 34606. Tickets are $13 for adults, $8 for children aged 6-12 and free under 5. Admission includes the riverboat ride, access to Buccaneer Bay, the mermaid show and reptile shows. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Mermaid shows are at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm and animal shows are at 10 am, 12 pm and 1:15 pm. River cruises depart every few minutes.