Wakulla Springs State Park a local gem

Wakulla offers tourists the option to snorkel, dive, and attend boat rides
Photo Submitted by Kira’Fika Jackson

Calling all naturalists: Are you ready to add this place to your traveler’s itinerary?

Open your world to new possibilities with the outdoor recreation springs at Wakulla Springs State Park, just 20 minutes south of Tallahassee.

It’s perfect for family vacation trips, family reunions, private getaways and even weddings. The 6,000-acre wildlife sanctuary offers a wide variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling and glass bottom boat tours.

The springs features 260 million gallons of crystal-clear water for visitors who are keen to experience the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs. Wakulla Springs has a history that stretches thousands of years back. Starting from Paleo Indians who once roamed and made the springs their stomping ground, hunting for mastodons, bison and other ancient animals; to Hollywood taking advantage of the springs to film some of its most iconic movies.

The state park also features a 1930s styled Spanish lodge with historical paintings that shroud the wooden ceilings and lavish Tennessee marble that splash the floors of the hotel.

Here, visitors can book a room and enjoy the view of sparkling spring water and catch animals such as manatee and turtles swimming.

If you’re looking for a Best Western or Hyatt Hotel, you should probably look elsewhere. Your typical hotel would have microwaves, television and fridges; this does not.

The lodge tries to keep up its ambiance and historical quality by keeping all 27 rooms free of modern-life appliances and technology.

You can also take a trip across the world with the lodge’s dining room menu. Some dishes that you can find include chicken and beignets, jambalaya, liver and onions, and shrimp and grits.

“We get people from all over the world who come here. Most of our clients are so thrilled to be here. It’s so completely different. It’s very much outside the norm.” Janice Gilmore, an employee at the park, said.

Bicycles are welcome. Birding and a horse equestrian trails are also available for those interested.

If you enjoy hiking, the park provides up to nine miles of easy to moderate hiking. The trail is called Cherokee Sink Trail and directs hikers through southern hardwood forests where you can spy on wildflowers in season and singing birds such as red robins, phoebes wax wings and more.

“Me and my friends had been trying to come here for a while but never could make it until now. We did the boat tour and the scuba diving.  The prices can’t be beat. It has a lot to offer with really good prices,” Jarvaris Young said.

Wakulla Springs Lodge employee Jim Smith says there’s no “best time” to visit. “It all depends. If they’re looking for the cheapest room, after Christmas would be best. It’s slow until January.”

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Admission varies; for further information contact the park at: (850) 561-7276