Weeki Wachee: Minus the Mermaids

In the summer of 2014, we set out to visit as many of Florida’s springs as possible. So of course, we took a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. We planned to canoe down the river starting at the park, but we found that even on a weekday, it wasn’t possible to rent a boat for a paddle without a very early start.

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Since all canoes and kayaks were rented when we arrived (at about 10:00), we decided to do the next best thing and go in the park to see what the mermaid show was all about. Our verdict: not much! The bubbles between performances were more entertaining than the mermaids, not only for us, but for the children in the audience as well.

We walked around the park, watched the peacocks wandering, and took a few pictures. We decided to pass on the water park…too crowded and not really our idea of a good time anyhow. However, we decided we would definitely return so we could paddle down the river.

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So last month, a couple of weeks after school started, we got up at sunrise and drove to the park. We were certainly there early enough renting one of the first canoes of the day, and I’m so glad we were turned away on our first trip.

Without a doubt, this paddle qualifies as my favorite of all time. The water was absolutely beautiful. The color, the clarity, the fish, the quiet…perfect. There’s no way we would have had the same experience on that July day two years ago paddling and dodging other boats.

Upon our return to the rental facility, we were asked if we saw any manatee in the run. Apparently, they had been making regular appearances. No, manatee. Only otters. This brought oohs and aahs from the staff since it’s unusual to spot otters on the river. We not only spotted them, but watched them dart in and out of the brush along the bank between their sliding through the crystal clear water.

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My first impression of Weeki Wachi Springs State Park: This isn’t anything. My impression this time: We’ll return so we can spend more time paddling on the river. I much prefer the otters to the mermaids!

Do People Really Pay to Visit These Places?

A trip to Florida means visiting “the attractions”. Not just Disney, Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens, and the Kennedy Space Center, but lesser known places like Monkey Jungle, The Fountain of Youth, and Weeki Wachee where mermaids perform. However, this week I read an article entitled Top 10 Roadside Tourist Attractions in Florida which provided some surprises.

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Top 10, really? I’ve never heard of some of these “attractions” and I’ve lived in the state for 45 years. People really pay to visit The Grave of Flipper, the dolphin star of the 1960s television show? And they pay $20?

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Who shells out $14 to visit the Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont? You’ve got to be kidding!

As a self proclaimed Big Foot fan, how did I miss the fact that Ochopee is the home of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters? At least I’d only have to drop $5 for the Skunk Ape experience.

Even some of the attractions on this “Top Ten” list that I’ve heard of, seem to be overpriced. I pass the exit for the Big Daddy Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing at least a couple of times each month, but have never considered stopping by. And now that I know it will cost me $15 for the experience, I’m even more unlikely to visit.

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Maybe I’m just a cheapskate but I can’t imagine paying to visit these attractions. I may stop by the Airstream Ranch in Dover. At least the price is right…free!

Would you recommend I visit any of these Top 10 Roadside Attractions in Florida?