Weeki Wachee

With the warmest days of the year just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your summer fun in the sun. We all know those sweltering days where you feel like you are baking and all you want to do is dip your toes (and the rest of your body) into something to feel refreshed. With over 1,300 miles of coastline, 825 miles of sandy beaches and 900 springs, Florida has endless choices. Dubbed “the Spring State” for good reason, every Floridian should visit one at least once. These aquatic wonders range from tiny holes with a singular vent trickling water out to our 33 first magnitude springs pouring out over 64 million gallons of water every day. Not only do they provide function by supplying drinking water, but many that are accessible to the public for pleasure and recreation.

photo by Heather Bossowski

The closest to Westchase is Weeki Wachee Springs, a world-famous roadside attraction since 1947. Head north on the Veterans Expressway for about an hour and you find yourself in the land of the mermaids. That’s right, it has been dubbed “The City of Mermaids” and is the only place in the United States where you can take in an underwater show with real actors donning a fin, in a sunken theater. Watching “mermaids” who perform using breathing tubes as needed leaves one to marvel. The skill needed to perform the show twice daily in the 72-degree water for extended periods of time is no easy feat, and the rigorous requirements are not easily met. After the show concludes, there are opportunities to meet the mermaids and take a photo with them. Shows often fill up during the weekends and warmer months, so arrive early to save your spot for this mystical experience.

photo by Heather Bossowski

Once you have the proper inspiration to swim, head up the path to the swimming area of Buccaneer Bay. Updated in 2022, the natural waterpark has a manmade sand beach with chairs and umbrellas, three water slides, a tiki bar, children’s splash area, and floating dock that sits in 20 feet of water, perfect for diving off of on a hot summer day. Tubes are available to rent, and you can float down the natural lazy river. Fish are plentiful, so be sure to bring your snorkel and mask, and if you are lucky, you may encounter turtles or manatees as we did when we visited. Food options like the Mermaid Galley and Pirates Grubb help you fill your belly after a long day in the water. If you are looking for a different kind of adventure on the river, kayaking out of the dedicated launch in the park is a “must-do,” but requires a reservation. A float down this portion of the river can mean many wildlife encounters while gliding through the crystal waters, from manatees and gar, turtles, heron, bald eagle, deer, and even gators or bobcats. A return shuttle is also available for those who reserve it when booking.

From mermaids to manatees and more, Weeki Wachee is the perfect way to spend a day out with the family this spring.


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