Historic Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Silver Springs

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Long before the amusement parks that seem to take over tourists’ bucket lists when visiting Florida, there was Silver Springs. As Florida’s oldest attraction, Silver Springs attracted many tourists by steamboat to the Silver River until the late 1870s when the first glass bottom boat tour was born.

Now a Registered Natural Landmark, Silver Springs quickly became Florida’s first tourist attraction.

In fact, in the 1930s over 20 Hollywood films were filmed in this magical place.

silver springs state park in ocala
Silver Springs State Park

In addition, many episodes of TV shows were also filmed here. In fact, rumor has it that actor Lloyd Bridges actually learned how to scuba dive in Silver Springs while filming the show Sea Hunt.

Undoubtedly, back then Silver Springs was prospering as Florida’s hit attraction with its glass bottom boat tours, tourist center, shops, and zoological demonstrations.

glass bottom boat tour in mammoth springs
Glass Bottom Boat Tour Over Mammoth Spring

But later on, as tourists began traveling to the South to visit attractions like Disney and SeaWorld, there was a loss of interest in visiting Silver Springs.

Sadly, this caused a major decline in attendance at this amazing park.

Fast forward to today, Silver Springs State Park continues to be one of Florida’s most beautiful springs.

For over 100 years, this historic park continues to attract visitors who want to experience the world-famous glass bottom boat tour in Florida.

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Where is Silver Springs Located?

Silver Springs is located about 5.8 miles east of Downtown Ocala. The park has one main entrance on State Road 40 and another one for the camping sites just off State Road 35.

Can You Swim in Silver Springs?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions about this park. Unfortunately, no swimming is allowed in Silver Springs. However, kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing are permitted year-round.

How Much Does it Cost to Get in Silver Springs?

There are different admission prices to get into Silver Springs. If you park at the main entrance to the park, the admission is $2 per person.

Admission to the camping entrance is $8 per vehicle (for 2-8 people) and $5 per vehicle with just one occupant.

glass bottom boat tour in silver springs
Boat Tour Dock

All About the Glass Bottom Boat Tour Adventure

Now that we got the main information out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff!

First things first…the weather!

The glass bottom tours only run when weather permits. All tours are stopped until the weather is clear and it’s safe to go in the water.

Mistakenly, this is something we did not do before heading out and we almost didn’t get to do the boat tour due to inclement weather.

Hence the reason why we encourage you to check the weather before making your trip to Silver Springs. You can thank us later!

mammoth spring in silver springs
Mammoth Spring

Length and Pricing of the Glass Bottom Boat Tour

There are two main boat tours to choose from in Silver Springs.

  • You have the 30-minute tour (which is the one we did) and these are offered every day starting at 10 am and ending at 6 pm. The 30-minute glass bottom boat tour is $13 per adult, children ages 6-12 and seniors are $12, and kids 5 years and under ride for free.
  • And you have the extended 90-minute tour which is offered Friday through Monday with only 3 time slots to choose from —11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. The extended glass bottom boat tour is $25 per adult, children ages 6-12 and seniors are $20, and kids 5 years and under ride for free.

Although the park accepts walk-ins for the boat tours, we encourage you to book your reservation online, especially if you’re visiting in the Spring and Summer months.

glass bottom boat tour
Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Silver Springs

🚣🏽‍♂️ RECOMMENDED: Experience the beauty of Silver Springs on a crystal-clear kayak in this guided tour.

Details of the Boat Tour

For the sake of giving you accurate information, we’ll only be sharing the in-depth details of the 30-minute tour which is the only one we’ve done.

The boat’s glass bottom allows for an impressively clear view of Crystal River’s underwater life.

Apart from having the opportunity to view many different species of fish and an Anhinga nesting area, there are some very interesting things you will also get to see on this tour.

shipwreck of glass bottom rowboat in silver springs
Sunken Original Glass Bottom Rowboat from 1877

You’ll get a close look at the Sea Hunt original dock, used when filming the 1958 TV show, an original glass bottom rowboat from 1877 as well as abandoned underwater Greek statues that were actually props used on the 1960s TV show I Spy.

Sea Hunt dock in silver springs
Original Sea Hunt Dock in Silver Springs

These statues were left behind after filming and had been completely covered in algae from being underwater for so many years.

A newly formed Silver Springs dive team cleaned out the statues making them now visible from the surface.

underwater statues in silver springs
Underwater Statues in Mammoth Springs

To summarize, this boat tour takes you around some of the feeder springs in the Silver River and ends with a breathtaking view of Mammoth Spring, which is the head spring in this river.

Plan More Adventures in Silver Springs

Final Thoughts

This glass-bottom boat tour in Silver Springs is an incredible experience for the whole family to enjoy.

When you visit Silver Springs be sure to bring your camera with you, explore the park, and be sure to visit the exhibits at the Discovery Center.

Quite honestly, visiting Silver Springs and doing the glass bottom boat tour is something that you will love to do more than once!

Would you like to do this glass-bottom boat tour in Silver Springs? Let us know in the comments!


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silver springs boat tours
Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is one 1/2 of the Next Stop Adventures dynamic duo with 15+ years of hiking experience and adventure travel. As a PADI-certified Scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Spain.

12 thoughts on “Historic Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Silver Springs”

  1. Wow, so interesting! I had no idea this spot even existed but was looking for more obscure spots to check out on a future trip to Florida. Thanks for the heads up on weather contingency, I would have absolutely missed that memo when planning!

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