Our Disney annual passes are still blacked out for Spring Break, and that means another opportunity to check out a place that has been on our to-do list for a while (it’s been on Jaime’s list even longer): DeLeon Springs State Park, or more to the point, the Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant.
Click here for the video if it is not showing up below. Additional commentary and photos follow.
The Sugar Mill is a 117 year old replica of the original sugar mill, which is funny to say because I’m used to buildings either being new or old, period. Now the replica is an antique, which is a strange concept to me.
Because the place is so tiny, the wait averages about 2 hours. We were quoted a 90 minute wait which kept is pretty well bolted to our bench next to the spring. They announce the available tables over a loudspeaker and if you drift too far away then you’ll miss your page.
The spring is a constant 72F, which seems “warm” to me compared to say, Lake Superior. I was hearing different feedback from a gaggle of college kids that decided to cannonball in, noisily. They were telling everyone else that was being hesitant about getting in there that only by going “all in” and getting your head wet can you acclimate enough to enjoy being in there. I think there’s some sort of life lesson in there, somewhere.
The spring drains off into the neighboring river, where Manatees are known to visit but sadly that season is over. Apparently the best way to see them in-season is to either take the $14 USD boat tour or rent something, like a canoe or paddleboat.
I was hoping to get some hiking in, as the potential wildlife list was rather long, including bobcats, and the lure of seeing swimming black bears. Nope! We didn’t get any hiking in because we were stuffed from breakfast. I did find a “baby trail”:
Which led to…
Anyway, the big question: Was it worth it?
Sure. It’s very touristy on the one hand, but on the other, there’s an “Old Florida” charm about the place. I’d be interested in taking the boat tour sometime, probably during Manatee season.