Who doesn’t love a mermaid? That was what champion swimmer Newt Perry thought when he invented an breathing tube that would allow swimmers to perform choreography underwater without bulky scuba tanks or tethered hoses. He paired his invention with willing young ladies and one of Florida’s most accessible first-magnitude springs and opened Weeki Wachee Springs to the delight of a war-weary public in 1947.
In the 1960s, when we first visited as kids, it was still a charmer, especially when “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” debuted here.
It’s the paddling trip, however, that draws most visitors to Weeki Wachee during the hot summer months. The spring-fed river offers an outstanding immersion into natural habitats for more than five miles.
Location: Weeki Wachee
Fees: $13 adult, $8 ages 6-12
Open: 9 AM until 5:30 PM daily
Admission to the Buccaneer Bay Water Park is included with admission. It is open seasonally.
The park is along US 19 west of Brooksville just south of the major intersection with SR 50.
Like most Florida roadside attractions, this one fell by the wayside – but stayed open, barely – as interest in big theme parks rose. A “save our tails” campaign by the staff caught the governor’s eye in 2004, and the state took the plunge of investing in the mermaid show, water park, and scenic boat ride that remained.
It’s a great place to take the kids, and a perfect launch point for a paddle down a river that’s barely changed over the ages.
Biking, paddling, and even a bit of hiking were in the plans as we explored Florida’s Adventure Coast – Hernando County – for activities we could enjoy during warm weather.
One of Florida’s most beautiful paddling trips, the Weeki Wachee River rises from first magnitude Weeki Wachee Springs and winds through lush floodplain forests as it is fed by hundreds of smaller springs along this 5.5-mile paddling run.