Manatee Springs State Park, FL

Bluejay grew up spending a few weeks each summer in Florida visiting his grandparents. It was tradition that they also spend a few days in Manatee Springs State Park.  Bluejay chatted the whole drive up there about the crystal clear water, the refreshing cool temperature, and the memories he had at that fun place. He was so right! Manatee Springs is a fresh water spring that stays 72 degrees year round. Because of this, manatees swim up the river to enjoy the "warm" water in the winter! In the summer, it feels quite cool! Bluejay teased me repeatedly about my reluctance to take that first plunge every time we went to swim. At the bottom of the steps, it is about 4 feet deep. Then there is a cliff drop off that goes down to 35 feet deep! But the water is so clear, you can easily see all the way to the bottom! Bluejay and I enjoyed swimming and snorkeling for hours! There was also an elevated wooden walkway that zig-zagged along the Cypress trees and Cypress knees (the Cypress root that pops up through the water). It was gorgeous! Especially when the sun was setting and it illuminated the Spanish Moss that clung to the trees. While the trail and the spring were amazing, Bluejay and I decided that we are not "southern campers". I grew up camping with my family for two weeks every summer and LOVED it! We always camped in the mountains of the southwest or in the northern states. Bluejay hadn't been tent camping more that a few times before we got married. Needless to say, we were not prepared for the HEAT and HUMIDITY of camping in Florida! It simply doesn't cool down. Even after the sun sets! Plus, the cicada bugs were so loud! National Geographic calls them some of the loudest insects. I think that's an understatement! Our ears were ringing for hours after the sun came up and quieted them down. We didn't get much rest, which made driving several hours the next day a bit less enjoyable. But, with images like these, I would GLADLY return to Manatee Springs! Especially if I was equipped with ear plugs and a portable AC unit!
The rock ledge at the bottom of the stairs are actually 4 feet under water! And the darker blue beyond is 35 feet deep! So clear!
These are called Cypress Knees. It's the root system for a Cypress Tree. So cool!
I love the light shining through the Spanish Moss! So quintessentially Southern!