Early departure from Tampa in the morning to go to Crystal River / Three sisters springs (1h25 drive from Tampa) and rent canoes. It is a rare opportunity to swim with manatees, which come in the crystal water of three sisters springs. We rented our canoes from the Crystal River Kayak Company and Dive Center (http://www.crystalriverkayakcompany.com/), one of the few rental agencies that allows direct access to the boating areas without motorized transport.
Normally, manatees are only visible during the months of February and March. But we were lucky enough to see 4 manatees on our route (we were at the end of April!)
After a quick lunch nearby, we drove back to Rainbow Springs State Park, in the direction of Ocala where we will spend the night. It’s a small, modest state park, with a popular swimming area for the locals and a clear river that originates in the park and flows quietly along the tree-lined banks. We rented paddles (it was the first time for my sons) and it was one of the best moments of the vacations to go up this magnificent river in paddle board, to enjoy the fresh and clear water, while contemplating the rich houses which bordered it. a real change of scenery compared to the rest of our activities in Florida.
We had the ambition to also visit the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, but we didn’t have the time and the forest road was partially closed during our visit (you can normally hike in a 120 feet chasm with a mini-tropical forest, and small waterfalls)
We finally arrived for dinner in Ocala, dining in the cute downtown area. and spent the night at the Super 8 by Wyndham Ocala I-75, a very passable motel that I do not recommend
14-days family roadtrip in Florida
this article details one of our stages of a 14-day family roadtrip roadtrip in Florida