Just north of Deland, Florida you’ll find De Leon State Park and it’s accompanying natural spring. That’s right. Welcome to the fountain of youth. For centuries the geophysical phenomenon we now call DeLeon Springs has been a place of peace and recreation for people of widely divergent cultures and lifestyles. In the early days, Native Americans called the springs Acuera- “healing waters”. They spent much time here and left a rich archaeological heritage. During the plantations years of the early and middle 1800’s, the area was called Spring Garden. Its peace was frequently shattered by warfare and its plantations repeatedly destroyed. However, the late 1800’s the area saw a return to tranquility as it became increasingly used for recreation, with more of a commercial tinge. With the establishment of the DeLeon Springs State Park in 1982, the springs became a place of rest and relaxation where thousands of visitors each year bask in the revitalizing waters and tranquil setting.
The outstanding feature of the 625 acre park is the spring, overlooking beautiful Spring Garden Run. The swimming area is accessible by stairs, ramp, and a swimmer lift. The water is shallow until you reach the 60 foot wide hole in the center that drops over thirty feet straight down. That’s right. It’s hard to imagine until you stare straight down into it. It’s real nice how the Earth just pumps fresh water out here, all the time. Good job Earth.
The springs produce approximately 19 million gallons of crystal-clear water daily at a year-round temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The site, noted for its swimming, fishing, and picnicking, offers other enjoyable amenities, such as hiking, bird watching, horseshoes, and volleyball. Visitors still regard the springs as a fountain of youth, in the sense that it’s a place for healthful outdoor recreation in a beautiful, natural setting. Although the name Spring Garden is gone, the plantation era is remembered in the sugar kettles, cane-crushing rollers, and other items of mill machinery that remain.
— Jason Nail (@NailTravels) April 26, 2016
The Sugar Mill Restaurant is located in a 100 year-old replica of the original 1830s sugar mill and features cook-your-own pancakes at the table and freshly made bread and cookies. The Fountain of Youth Eco/Heritage boat tour aboard the M/V Acuera, departs four times daily and is a 50 minute trip through Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. The park’s paddling trail also provides access to the 22,000 acre lake, with lush creeks and marshes to explore. The free boat ramp and dock, can accommodate boats up to about 20 feet, with the St. Johns River a distance of about 10 miles.
What’s So Great About Deland, Florida?
- Downtown: You wouldn’t be asking if you’d actually been to downtown Deland. Starting at the entrance to Stetson College, the main street is littered with restaurants, bars, shops, and theaters. It’s a swell place to meander and get lost for an afternoon. Whether your’re looking for a knitted belt from Guatemala or a stuffed dead cat from Florida, you will find what it is you seek.
- Beach: Daytona Beach is only twenty-five minutes away if you’re hankerin for a day in the waves. It takes me that long and I live in Fort Myers. Yeesh!
- Orlando: It’s nice to have Orlando close if you need the luxury of a larger city, but not too close. When it comes to crummy traffic, Orlando is considered Florida royalty. The idea is to enjoy the quiet and calm of Deland unless an emergency arises like a football game or concert.
- Sandhill Cranes: They do stand tall, but don’t get these majestic birds confused with herons. This place is littered with them and you’ll likely hear their “clook-clook” call throughout the day, but especially in the morning.
The name Deleon Springs did not appear until the late 1881’s when, with the arrival of the railroad ,the area was promoted as a winter resort. An advertisement appealing to retired northerners claimed the springs were a “fountain of youth” that had water “impregnated with a deliciously healthy combination of soda and sulfur, and maintains a uniform temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit the year round”. The mineral content of the water has apparently decreased in recent years. There is little odor of sulfur now, and the temperature is almost a constant 72 degrees.
Which Florida spring is next; Jenny, Rainbow, or Blue? I do not even care. I won’t be done until I see em all.