Home of the world’s deepest and largest freshwater springs, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is located just twenty minutes south of Tallahassee, FL, offering the panhandle region a quick natural springs escape. The cooler mineral waters provide swimming, along with a lodge on-site offering hotel-style accommodations.
This state park is named after two Floridian bastions. The first is Edward Ball, a southern tycoon who was once considered to be the most influential and wealthy man in the Sunshine State. The other, the ‘wakulla’ part, is the Timucuan word translating to “mysterious waters.”
Here you’ll find what remains of Edward Ball’s oversized legend and enjoy the crystal clear waters that have sustained life since dinosaurs walked the earth.
The Freshwater Springs
The Wakulla Springs are massive. Unlike nearly all other springs in Florida and their groundwater aquifers, Wakulla Springs, are actually producing more water in recent years. The water that makes up the springs is cooler than many of its sisters, ranging from 68 degrees to 70 Fahrenheit year-round.
This, however, is to the benefit of health-conscious bathers. Swimming in cooler water has been found to be better for the circulatory system as it pushes blood into the body’s extremities in order to keep them warm. It also helps with weight management. The heart has to pump harder when swimming in cooler temperatures, leading to higher calorie burn.
There’s no lack of space for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. In the 1970s the blockbuster movie Airport 77 was filmed using the spring. The plot of the film involves art thieves hijacking a 747 jet and accidentally landing it in the ocean, submerging themselves and all the passengers 100 feet below the salt water’s surface.
Producers chose to use Wakulla Springs for filming due to the clarity of the water and sunk the main body of a real passenger jet into the basin. Though the majority of the set was removed, divers at the springs have brought up pieces of the plane still submerged some forty-plus years later.
This is just part of the treasure trove swimmers and divers have found. Mastodon bones, prehistoric shark teeth, and indigenous Clovis artifacts have been brought up from the crystalline depths. When swimming in Wakulla Springs, visitors are very much bathing in history.
The Lodge at Wakulla Springs
Guests of the park who want to stay on-site have a unique option. They can rent a room in The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, the hotel built in 1935 by lumber tycoon Edward Ball. Ball originally toured the land around Wakulla Springs in order to harvest its forested acres.
However, even this man who saw dollar signs in priceless natural resources knew that it would be criminal to disturb the Wakulla Springs area. Instead, he purchased the land in 1931 and began to build his hotel four years later. The hotel, still mainly in its original design, is a confection of seamless marble and hand-painted ceiling masterpieces.
It has everything from a restaurant serving fine dining options to a Sofa Fountain. There are several room configurations at The Lodge. The King Suite with a pullout sofa bed is named after Ball himself. There are two-bed options featuring both twin or double-sized beds. Many of the rooms are named after what can be seen from their windows, such as the “spring view” options.
Visitors have said they’ve woken in the morning to see manatees and alligators gliding through the water. One thing guests won’t see in their rooms are TVs. Some rooms have wifi availability.
Check prices, availability or book The Lodge at Wakulla Springs
The Edward Ball Dining Room is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days per week. The carefully crafted menu provides some farm-to-table selections, along with plenty of southern classics to keep the crowds happy.
The Edward Ball also features a full soda parlor and gift shop. The hours are daily from 9 am- to 7 pm.
If camping sounds better than a stay at The Lodge, the local park Newport Campground has RV sites and primitive spots available. There a bathhouse and boat ramp is also on offer. It’s located 6 miles away, about 10 minutes from Wakulla Springs.
Discover other campgrounds near Tallahassee within a short drive of Edward Ball Wakulla Springs Park.
Address: 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, Florida 32327