Turn a Local Park into a Learning Destination

By Holly Giles | Family

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State Parks for Learning

We checked out a local park near Central Florida. Deleon Springs State Park ended up being an educators paradise.
Upon arrival, we were in awe of some of Florida’s beautiful old oak trees scattered all over this property.  It sets the tone for the tourist destination of old that Deleon Springs once was.
It was said that Ponce Deleon came here in search of the fountain of youth and healing properties of water.  The Timacuan Indians called this and the surrounding grounds home for centuries. In the 1800’s vacationers were brought by steamboat to this paradise for swimming and relaxing, and for the water skiing elephant too!
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Food always brings fun

We started our day at the Sugar Mill. This hundred-year-old mill sits right by the water and is now fashioned as a make your own pancake house, complete with griddles built into the tables. Grant has been known to down more pancakes than he weighs!
A boat tour is available, and well worth it. You can see much of what makes the real Florida. The wildlife abounds and if you are a birder, be ready! A small museum behind the spring is full of history at Deleon Springs and artifacts that give this a stamp of an educational field trip! From Indian tools, clothing, war remnants, shells and animal bones and a photo of the skiing elephant.
The spring itself is 72 degrees year round and we always see divers in the spring.  There is a shallow area for younger children and a large deeper pool area with a sea wall.
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Sitting under a very old palm tree, I almost feel like a mom from centuries ago, watching her children swim and trying to keep out of the sun. I prefer shorts to petticoats here any day!

Make a date with a state park in your area. You will be pleasantly surprised how fun and education mix well in the outdoors.

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