If you are anywhere near central Florida while traveling you want to be sure and make it a point to visit Weeki Wachee State Park, the Home of the Mermaids about an hour north of Tampa. It is one of Florida’s oldest attractions, it has been around almost 60 years!
Weeki Wachee State Park- The Home of the Mermaids
Heads up there is a video in the park at the bottom of this post! Don't miss the video of the Live Mermaid Show!
Weeki Wachee State Park is Florida's oldest Roadside Attraction that has turned into a State Park. They are well known for their live mermaids.
But mermaids, while the star attraction, are not the only attraction to see there, you can spend an entire day exploring this park. Boys and girls alike will be captivated by the mermaids, the animal shows, and more.
If you are planning to visit check out the Weeki Wachee Hotels. This is such a small town but they have plenty of options and area for you to stay in. Don't forget to check out Airbnb too. You get a $40 free credit when you sign up with my link.
Can you swim in Weeki Wachee Springs?
Yes. There is a water park in the state park and they use the spring water not treated water. You will swim right in the springs, fish and all.
Are there alligators at Weeki Wachee Springs?
Yes, but they stay away from humans they just don't like us. In fact, when we were there they closed the lazy river for a few hours because of an alligator. They brought out an alligator trapper, removed the gator and reopened the lazy river all within a few hours.
What is the water temperature at Weeki Wachee?
The temperature stays a nice 72–74 °F all year long. It is a little cold but after a hot day around the park, it feels amazing!
What does Weeki Wachee mean?
Weeki Wachee is a Seminole name given by the Florida Seminole Indians and it means “little spring” or “winding river.”
Park Tips When Visiting
Get There Early! – The only allow so many people in the park and especially in the summer when it's hot and people want to hit the water park, they fill up fast! Basically, be in like when the park opens.
Book You Boat Trip First – The second you walk in the park head toward the back and follow the sign to reserve your boat ride time. The boat ride is included in your park ticket but they only have so many times per day.
We got into the park in the first hour they opened and booked our boat trip and got the 2nd to the last ride of the day. I wanted and they ran out of boat tickets around the time the park had been open an hour.
Beautiful mermaids perform amazing shows in the crystal clear springs in an underwater theater 16-20 feet below the surface with the help of special air hoses that the original park owner created.
The two shows they have on their schedule are The Little Mermaid, based on Hans Christen Andersons version. This is the show that has the only male mermaid in it.
Weeki Wow is a collection of tricks and performances that have been part of the park since it’s opening, 6 decades they have been entertaining! Weeki WoW is fun tricks like drinking & eating underwater, the swimming circle, water ballet and more.
Meet a Mermaid
You can meet a mermaid and get your picture taken with on after each of the mermaid shows. They announce it and have a little shaded sitting area and it is done up pretty well! The mermaid was there before we got there when the show ended and she was amazing in answering questions and understanding how kids are amazed but them.
Mermaids swim 365 days a year, 4 times a day.
The Mermaids can hold their breath up to 4 minutes.
The Weeki Wachee Mermaids can swim down to 100 feet during the show.
Want to know 21 facts about the Weeki Wachee Mermaids? Check out the video below.
Wildlife, Peacocks, Playground, and More
On the beautiful grounds, you will see peacocks roaming as well as fish, otters, turtles, and I hear even the occasional alligator swim in the spring, becoming a natural part of the mermaid show.
The native animal show gives you a peek into the wilds of Florida- Creatures like snakes, turtles, and alligators.
They have a great playground that is basically in the middle of the park. My kids had a blast and met some great friends. It's the perfect place to allow younger kids to have fun in between shows or when waiting for your boat tour.
Take a ride on the riverboat cruise with a tour guide and learn a little about Florida’s history and the beautiful nature alongside or in the river. The cruise is included in your park tickets but there are only so many spots per day. Make sure to book your spot when you first get in the park.
The boat ride is about half an hour up the river and back. Animals that have been known to be seen are fish, turtles, manatees, otters, birds, alligators, and more.
If canoeing, kayaking or paddleboarding are your thing, you can slip over to Paddling Adventure’s and take a trip down the river, this is a prime spot to see Florida’s gentle giants-manatees.
Related: 11 of the Absolute Best Places to View Manatees in Florida
Buccaneer Bay Water Park
Florida is of course, hot and sticky so you and the kids have several options for cooling off during the summer (the only time the water park is open).
In Buccaneer Bay you will find a flume ride, and lifeguard supervised swimming in the spring as well as L’il Mates Caribbean Cove, a shallow splash park for little ones.
What makes this park unique is that it is right in the springs water. It's not treated chemical water, you are swimming right in the springs, fish and all.
They also have a lazy river. They are very good at monitoring wildlife in the water. While we were there they did spot an alligator and had him caught and removed in just a few hours and the lazy river back up and going.
Drinks, Food, and Snacks
Sit down to a quick service meal of chicken strips, burgers and the like in the Mermaid Galley Restaurant. Nothing fancy but pretty tasty, quick, and moderately priced or you can bring a cooler and make use of their picnic area (No alcohol or glass) .
Or they also have a snack shack and Tiki Bar near the waterpark for grab and go drinks and snacks.
Mermaid Gift Shop
Check out the Mermaid Villa, the mermaid-themed gift shop where you can find everything from garden statues, towels, and keychains to stuffed mermaids and artwork. Just in case you forget something they also carry towels, cameras, sunscreen, etc.
Outside the gift shop, you will be able to find off duty mermaids, more than happy to pose with you- I was really impressed by how much time they took with my little ones, not rushing them along as a large theme park might.
Have you visited Weeki Wachee State Park? I'd love to know what you thought! Let us know in the comments below.