A NAT­U­RAL SET­TING

Where Orlando - - Where Now -

Less than an hour’s drive away at Blue Spring State Park, the crys­tal- clear wa­ter re­mains 73 de­grees year-round. Blue Spring is the largest spring in Florida’s long­est river, the St. Johns, which runs 310 miles from the North­east coast. Each year hun­dreds of man­a­tees make their way to this wel­com­ing win­ter home. Be­cause of the great num­ber of mas­sive and mild-man­nered en­dan­gered species that ar­rive here each year, the area has been des­ig­nated a man­a­tee refuge. “We’ve had up to 300 per day, es­pe­cially on cold days,” says park ranger Ed Do­err. “There’s a board­walk that goes along the spring with sev­eral ob­ser­va­tion ar­eas, and we do two slideshows a day along with a two-hour pri­vate boat tour.” Blue Spring State Park can get very busy dur­ing man­a­tee sea­son, so ar­rive early to en­sure a park­ing space. Ad­mis­sion $6;2100W. French Ave.; 386.775.3663; www.flori­das­tateparks.org

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