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If you are looking for a fun family day trip from Jacksonville, I highly suggest making the little over one-hour trip to De Leon Springs State Park. One of Florida’s State Parks, De Leon Springs has easy hiking trails, a beautiful spring and even a boat tour.
Plan to get there early and eat breakfast at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill. Put your name in for amazing pancakes that you cook at your table, then explore the visitor’s center or let your kids play on the playground nearby. A small old mill, this restaurant doesn’t seat many, but it’s definitely not to miss. If you’re not a pancake person, that’s ok, they have other options for you!
After you eat, walk down the trail to the 500 year old Cypress Tree, or take a 2 hour boat tour to see the beauty of the river and all the wildlife. If it’s a warm day, the springs are amazing. You can see clear to the bottom, but it is deeper than it looks, so bring a float or rent one while you’re there to relax.
If you want to tour the river yourself you can rent a kayak to burn off your breakfast and take in all that natural Florida has to offer. Either way, it’s easy to spend the day exploring, swimming, and just enjoying nature with your family.
De Leon Springs State Park is located approximately an hour and a half from Jacksonville making it a great choice for exciting day trip.
If you’re interested in learning more about springs in Florida, we recommend Touring the Springs of Florida: A Guide to the State’s Best Springs. It’s a great resource for day trips that your family is sure to love!
Melody is a graduate of Jacksonville University, married a Jax Beach resident, moved away for 12 years, then returned to the area in 2016. Together they have two girls ages 9 & 11. Melody works as owner/photographer of Melody Coarsey Photography, she loves yoga, family, traveling, dining with a view and the ocean.