The sleepy waters of Weeki Wachee, Florida, are home to one of the world’s most unique attractions: a live show featuring graceful mermaids performing in an underwater theatre. Just 45 minutes north of Tampa and 90 minutes west of Orlando, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a hidden gem for those seeking a summer escape.
Things to Do at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
The Mermaid Show
The centerpiece of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is its world-famous live mermaid show that takes place inside an underwater theatre created from a natural spring. As you watch from above, experienced divers slip into the depths of the spring. They emerge as enchanting mermaids in sparkling tail costumes.
The Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid attraction was established in 1947 by Newton Perry. He created the roadside venue using underwater air hoses and a specific breathing technique to enable performers to become “mermaids.” The showgirls performed complicated routines and wowed their audiences.
Visitors could see the underwater show from an 18-seat theater embedded into the lime rock of the spring with views of the underwater performance. In the 1960’s, the attraction was owned by the American Broadcast Company (ABC) and gained international recognition.
The park is owned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and is included in Florida’s State Park System.
The state park admission includes access to Buccaneer Bay. This water park includes a white sand beach (with plenty of lounge chairs), several water slides, and a lazy river. These activities have turned the park into a day-long excursion with fun activities for the entire family.
There are concessions available inside the state park and covered pavilions for dining. Guests are welcome to bring snacks, purchase from the concession stands, or dine at the on-site seasonal restaurant.
The parking lot near the ticket booths has free parking. The staffed information kiosk available to answer any questions you may have.
Things to Do in Hernando County, Florida
Go Fishing at Bayport Park
Extend the day of relaxation with some quiet time on a pier, just you and your fishing pole. The historic Bayport Park on the gulf shore is popular for fishing, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards. There is no fee to enter the park, and ample parking near the elevated boardwalk. Bring a picnic basket and enjoy the day.
The sprawling leisure and recreational park, which covers an impressive 10 acres, was founded in the 1950s and has become a cherished landmark in Bayport, Florida. Visitors discover fascinating historical insights through the information markers detailing the area’s rich significance during the American Civil War.
Visit Weeki Wachee Springs
Weeki Wachee Springs is a nature-lovers tourist attraction located in Weeki Wachee, Florida. The springs are an estuary of the Weeki Wachee River, which flows for 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
The name is from the Seminole names for “small” and “spring,” which describes either the water source or the location as an extension of a local town named Spring. Either way, Weeki Wachee Springs is the deepest naturally occurring spring in the United States.
Measuring about 150 feet wide and 250 feet long, the spring contains an average of 150 million gallons of crystal-clear natural water. The depth of the springs and the many underwater caves are still being explored.
Learn About the Manatees
The Gulf Coast rivers near Weeki Wachee, Florida, are known for their abundance of manatees, which are large, gentle marine mammals often referred to as sea cows.
These gentle giants possess a distinct appearance with their circular bodies and paddle-like flippers. Typically gray or brown in color, they can reach up to 10 to 12 feet in length. Their sturdy, thick bodies gradually taper into a broad, flat tail, a feature that enables them to move through water with ease.
Manatees are herbivores whose diet primarily comprises seagrasses, aquatic plants, and algae. They require a substantial amount of vegetation each day to maintain their energy levels. These creatures are known for their peaceful and docile nature, and they are excellent swimmers, capable of both shallow and deep dives. Additionally, they can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes.
Manatees thrive in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the rivers and estuaries surrounding Weeki Wachee. These areas provide them with a suitable environment for feeding, resting, and seeking refuge during colder months. During winter, manatees flock to the Crystal River and Homosassa River, two of the most popular destinations for warm springs. Manatees are a threatened species and are protected by the Endangered Species Act in the United States. Efforts are underway to safeguard their habitats, decrease collisions with watercraft, and raise awareness about the significance of manatee conservation.
Places to Stay near the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Hampton Inn Spring Hill
The Hampton Inn Spring Hill Hotel is situated within a short 12-minute driving distance from Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. This hotel provides spacious rooms, excellent customer service, and a complimentary hot breakfast. The hotel also provides free WiFi, parking, and a 24-hour front desk. Furthermore, the hotel has an on-site fitness center for guests to enjoy during their stay.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Spring Hill
This modern Holiday Inn Express & Suites-Spring Hill hotel is only 3.1 miles from the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Enjoy contemporary rooms with standard amenities. This location offers on-site laundry machines for guests to use and an outdoor swimming pool.
Cody’s RV Park and Catfish Pond
The Cody’s RV Park and Catfish Pond campground is located in Weeki Wachee, offering a convenient location for visitors. It provides RV camping with electric and water hookups. The campground offers amenities such as a swimming pool, laundry facilities, restrooms, and showers. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak seasons.
If You Go to Weeki Wachee, Florida:
Bayport Park, 4140 Cortez Blvd, Spring Hill, Florida, United States
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Mermaid Show and Buccaneer Bay), 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL (352) 592-5656. *Tip – Check the website for seasonal show times and events.
Cody’s Catfish Pond and RV Park 8588 Ostrom Way, Weeki Wachee FL, United States
Sam’s Beach Bar, 6325 Clark Street, Hudson, FL, United States (727) 868-1971 *Tip – Check the website for live entertainment!