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.
The History of Weeki Wachee Springs
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.
What to See at Weeki Wachee Springs
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.
Tips for Visiting Weeki Wachee Springs
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.
Where to Eat Near Weeki Wachee Springs
You don’t have to go far to find food. Mermaid Galley is Weeki Wachee’s onsite cafe with sandwiches and sandwiches. Captain’s Quarters is a snack stand with ice cream and drinks at Buccaneer Bay and the Snack Shack is its counterpart near the swimming area. Pirates Grubb offers burgers and hot dogs while the Tiki Bar has beer, wine, and frozen cocktails for grown-up visitors.
If you’d like to venture outside of Weeki Wachee, the shopping center across the street has fast food and independent restaurants. Richie’s Cheesesteak serves Philly-style sandwiches and pizza. LaurieCue is a barbecue restaurant. Breakfast Station is the perfect place for the most important meal of the day.
Where to Stay Near Weeki Wachee Springs
The state park doesn’t have its own accommodations but The Dyrt has tips on where to camp nearby. Cody’s RV Park and Mary’s Fish Camp are each 10 minutes away and have kayak rentals, RV and tent camping, and picnic facilities. Mary’s also has cabins if you don’t want to “rough it.” Quality Inn – Weeki Wachee is an affordable choice near the park entrance with free WiFi, a fitness center, and daily breakfast.