Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wacky, Wonderful Weeki Wachee Springs

We’ve visited Florida many times, but on a visit to the Gulf Coast, we were looking for something a little different to do.  We found it.  About an hour’s drive North of Tampa is one of Florida’s oldest and most unique attractions - Weeki Wachee Springs!

Weeki Wachee Springs is a natural attraction in Weeki Wachee, Florida, about an hours drive North of Tampa.  The main draw is underwater performances by ‘mermaids’, viewed in The Mermaid Theater.  The theatre, built 16’ below the surface into the limestone on the side of the spring, makes you feel as if you are submerged with the mermaids.  The ‘mermaids’ swim freely underwater breathing from a free-flowing air hose, rather than from a tank on their backs and perform alongside the turtles, fish, manatees and otters who frequent the spring.

In it’s heyday, the park was visited by many celebrities, most notably Elvis.  These days, Weeki Wachee is not quite so famous, with most tourists sticking to Busch Gardens and Disney World.  That’s a shame because Weeki Wachee’s ‘mermaids’ have been performing underwater long before Cirque de Soleil, and these highly trained ‘mermaids’ really are fascinating to watch.

The mermaid shows are only just one of the things to see.  With animal shows, roaming peacocks, a river boat ride, canoe and kayak rentals, water slides and lazy river tubing, there is plenty to see and do.  The grounds, gardens, spring and river are lovely, and the people working there are friendly and welcoming.

We visited on an unusually cold and blustery day in January, so we didn’t have the opportunity to swim in the spring, but the mermaid show and relaxing river cruise were definitely worth the drive.

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