The outstanding feature of this 625-acre park is the spring, overlooking beautiful Spring Garden Run, producing 19 million gallons of water a day at 72 degrees year-round. The swimming area is accessible by stairs, ramp and a swimmer lift. Lifeguards are provided during the summer months only and pets are not allowed in or near the swimming area. Scuba diving is limited to classes by certified instructors only. Snorkeling is a popular activity, but access into the cave is prohibited. If you prefer to stay above the water, canoes, paddleboats and kayaks may be rented from the park's concession. The park's paddling trail provides access to the 22,000-acre Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, with lakes, creeks and marshes to explore. The free boat ramp, with dock, can accommodate boats up to about 20 feet, with the St. Johns River a distance of about 10 miles.
Fishing is excellent in the spring run from the shore or the fishing dock. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required for visitors between 16 and 65 years of age. Bow fishing is permitted in the park's section of the spring run between sunset and 8 a.m. Birding is great, and the park is on the Great Florida Birding Trail. Picnic tables, grills and a playground are available under the grand live oak trees, with four pavilions available for rent. Two additional pavilions are free (first-come, first served). All are near the spring and restrooms. Visitors can hike the 4.2-mile Wild Persimmon Hiking Trail or take a leisurely stroll on the one-half mile paved Nature Trail to see the 600 year old cypress tree.
The Butterfly Garden has about 500 plants for the benefit of resident and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds. The park offers interpretation of its cultural and natural history through kiosks and signs throughout the park and exhibits in the Visitor Center. Park Ranger programs, covering a variety of topics, are offered during the fall and winter months. The popular Sugar Mill Restaurant, located in a 100-year-old replica of the original 1830s sugar mill, features cook-your-own pancakes at the table and freshly made bread and cookies. Books and gift items are also available. The Fountain of Youth Eco/Heritage boat tour abourd the M/V Acuera, departing fourt imes daily, is a 50-minute trip through Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where alligators and birds abound. The Sugar Mill Restaurant is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays, serving until 4 p.m.
The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year. Admission is $6/vehicle (two to eight people per vehicle), $4 for single occupancy vehicles, $4 for motorcycles, and $2/person for pedestrians, bicyclists and extra passengers. Pavilions 1 & 2 are $75 plust tax. Each seats 50-60 people, has a large grill, water and electricity. Pavilions 3 & 4 are $45 plus tax. Each seats 40-50 people, has a large grill and water but no electricity. For diving: Instructional diving only. Instructors must have a dive permit, which is $200 plus tax. Students pay the park entrance fee.
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