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Everything You Need to Know about Glass-Bottom Boat Rides

A day of boating is always fun—skimming above the water, catching glimpses of wildlife in the trees and on the riverbanks.

But it gets even better at Silver Springs State Park, where its world-famous glass-bottom boats let you see what’s happening underwater, too.

These innovative boats were invented in the late 19th century, and when they launched at Silver Springs, it quickly became one of Florida’s very first tourist attractions. Located just east of Ocala in Marion County, Silver Springs is one of the largest artesian springs ever discovered, making it the perfect spot for visitors to scope out fish, turtles, alligators and vegetation in the crystal-clear waters beneath the boats. Look closely and you’ll even see a dugout canoe dating back to the 1500s resting on the riverbed, a relic of the area’s Native American settlers.

Glass-bottom boat tours run every 30-45 minutes, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days a year. Pricing is as follows: adults, $11; seniors 55 and over, $10; children ages 6 to 12, $10; children 5 and under, free). Reservations are not required.

For those curious to know more about Silver Springs, extended boat tours along the Silver River are offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. During the 90-minute cruise, your boat captain will share the rich history of the springs while pointing out wildlife on land and underwater. (Photographers, this one’s for you!) Pricing for the extended boat tours is $25 for adults; $20 for seniors 55 and over; $20 for children ages 6 to 12; and free for children five and under. Extended tours are limited to 26 passengers each, and reservations are not available.

From the historic design of the boats to the serene setting of the Silver River, stepping aboard a glass-bottom boat tour feels a bit like stepping back in time. So discover Florida’s untouched history at Silver Springs State Park.

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