Grab a spatula and start flipping pancakes! Once a Florida roadside attraction, De Leon Springs State Park still draws big crowds for its unique make-your-own-pancake restaurant with griddle top tables, set inside a historic sugar mill.
Of course, that’s not the only cool thing about this long-time Florida State Park. Front and center is its namesake spring, set up for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving in a cool natural pool.
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Location: De Leon Springs
Address: 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd, De Leon Springs
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Restroom: At both the picnic area and swimming area
Land manager: Florida State Parks
Open 8 AM to sunset daily. Leashed pets welcome but not in swimming area or restaurant or on tour boats.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House is open 9-5 weekdays, 8-5 weekends (serving until 4), closed Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The town of De Leon Springs is just north of DeLand on US 17. From US 17 in De Leon Springs, turn west onto Ponce De Leon Boulevard. Follow it 0.8 mile. The entrance to De Leon Springs State Park is just after the railroad crossing.
About the Park
The wait for the Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House is long, especially on weekends. It’s worth it, but you can keep busy while you wait.
There is plenty to do in this expansive park, from swimming in the spring to taking a guided boat tour along Spring Garden Creek to a visit to the museum.
Enjoy a wander in the woods, too, on your choice of gentle wheelchair-friendly trails or seriously squishy tromps through the floodplain forest.
Open water SCUBA diving is permitted if you’re here as part of a diving class with a certified instructor.
Three trails offer hikers a walk in the dense palm hammocks and cypress swamps found along this tributary of the St. Johns River.
The easy to follow paved Nature Trail includes a side spur to Old Methusalah, an ancient cypress of enormous size.
On the short Monkey Island Trail, a wilder spur off the nature trail, you see the remains of what once was a “jungle cruise” style boat ride through the floodplain forest.
Along the much longer Wild Persimmon Trail, go deep into the jungle-like wilds of the floodplain of Spring Garden Run on a squishy interpretive loop hike.
Paddlers are welcome to put in at the designated launch near the canoe rental for a round-trip of up to 8.5 miles along Spring Garden Creek.
While somewhat open to start, it joins a sinuous stream through the floodplain after you pass Spring Garden Lake. Hug the near shore along the edge of the lake.
Spring Garden Creek reaches Lake Woodruff after more than 4 miles. The lake is the turn-around point for a day paddle.
De Leon Springs State Park is slated to be the northern terminus of the countywide Spring-to-Spring Trail when it is complete.
Right now, a 6 mile segment of this paved bike path begins to the south of the park at Chuck Lennon Park and parallels Grand Avenue through Glenwood.
Learn more about De Leon Springs State Park
Paralleling the St. Johns River basin, the northernmost segment of the Spring to Spring Trail is a hilly and often canopied ride through historic communities
While pancakes and De Leon Springs go hand-in-hand thanks to the popular Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, the natural beauty of De Leon Springs is the reason to visit
See our photos of De Leon Springs State Park
More worth exploring while you’re in this area.
Six miles of trails meander through wide open spaces preserved for wintering waterfowl at 21,500-acre Lake Woodruff NWR along the St. Johns River.
An island in the St. Johns River, Hontoon Island State Park is accessible to boaters thanks to a marina big enough to accommodate a houseboat and to everyday visitors by a free ferryboat. It’s worth the short trip to see the bounteous wildlife of the St. Johns River, from wading birds to manatees to turtles lying in the sun.
Along the St. Johns River at Lake Beresford, discover the river anew through William Bartram’s eyes as he recorded his observations of alligators, fish, and flora in 1774