De Leon Springs State Park


Originally referred to as the land of the “Healing Waters” by the native Timucuan Indians, De Leon Springs State Park in Central Florida is filled with plenty of recreational activities for families wanting to enjoy the natural beauty of Florida. There are many RV camping sites located nearby. The area has been visited by a number of famous people, including John James Audubon in 1831, known for his explorations and study of nature, including the documentation of all types of birds and their habitats.

Located just an hour drive north of Orlando, FL., the State Park is a very historic area, having been explored by many different groups ranging from the Seminole and Mayaca Indians to U.S. Army soldiers, land speculators, and plantation owners to name few. The area was also the site of a 2,000 acre Spring Garden Plantation, and the only sugar mill in Florida powered by water.

Sugar Mill Restaurant:

Named for the original Sugar Mill that operated on the property, the Sugar Mill Restaurant is in the State Park, located in a replica of the original 1830’s sugar mill. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch, requiring park admission for dining. The restaurant specializes in cookies and bread freshly made and features cook-your-own pancakes.

Photo credit Priscilla McDaniel on floridastateparks.org.

Bird Watching:

For those who enjoy bird-watching, the State Park includes many varieties of birds to watch, including wintering birds like the Winter Wren, the Red-Breasted Nuthatch, and the Dark-eyed Junco. The park also includes many bird species during the spring and summer like the Acadian Flycatcher, the Yellow-billed Cuckoos. and Broad-winger hawks. The park offers a bird list at the visitor center to help enhance your bird-watching adventures.

Other wildlife opportunities within the park include viewing wildlife that ranges from turtles and alligators to manatees and otters. You might even get to see a bobcat or a bald eagle. There is always plenty of wildlife in the park to enjoy watching.

Boating Activities:

If boating is what you enjoy, the state park offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Experience a 50-minute boat tour of the lake, featuring an eco/history narration of the area and its native wildlife. The tour boat seats eight passengers and is handicapped accessible.

The park also offers boating and canoeing/kayaking at Spring Garden Lake. the lake is connected to Lake Woodruff, about 10 miles away. Lake Woodruff encompasses approximately 22,000 acres with kayaks and canoes available for rental.

Kayaking at De Leon Springs. Photo credit floridastateparks.org.

For those who are a bit more daring, snorkeling and scuba diving lessons are also available in the park. Led by a certified and licensed instructor, the lessons include help you learn how to safely dive and explore underwater areas.

If you just want to enjoy swimming in the lake, You will experience a relaxing swimming environment where the swimming area always stays around 72 degrees. Children are required to have adults with them when going swimming in the lake since there is no lifeguard present. For your protection, all swimmers must remain in the roped-off swim area.

The springs. Photo credit floridastateparks.org

If fishing is more your style, Spring Garden Run provides a great place to drop your line and do some freshwater fishing for catfish, bluegill, and bass. Cast netting is not permitted within the park.


If you are more into hiking, the state park includes hiking trails like the four-mile-long Wild Persimmon hiking trail where you can see local wildlife ranging from Florida black bears to turkeys and deer. The park also includes a half-mile interpretive trail where you can see old growth trees and other native plants.

De Leon Springs State Park Visitors Center:

The visitors center provides plenty of information and accessible amenities to help you enjoy the park. Visitors can get handicap equipment to help you get around the park better, including standard and all-terrain wheelchairs, and swimmer chair lifts. The park also includes a playground, accessible parking, picnic areas with tables and grills, and paved nature trails. Restrooms with showers are also available.

Courtesy of FloridaStateParks.org

Instructional maps and guides of the area are available along with information about local RV camping areas. Interpretive signs, along with helpful kiosks are located throughout the state park.

Please keep in mind that the park does not offer camping facilities. There are quite a few private campgrounds.  Alternatively, Tomoka State Park is less than an hour away and the perfect spot to camp after a day at the springs.

For further information, go to the De Leon Springs State Park page or call 386-985-4212.

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