Homeschool Co-op Park Date @ Wakulla Springs – South of Tallahasee

Wakulla Springs: Homeschool Co-op Park Dates just South of Tallahassee

My father and brothers
are swimming to the Rock.
“Come with us!”
they call to me
and I say,
“Maybe next year.”

The Rock is very, very far away.

I sit on the dock
with my peanut butter sandwich.
I watch them
dive into the water
and swim into the distance
their kicks
and splashes and elbows
getting smaller and smaller
as they near the Rock.

It takes them a long, long time.

They arrive and pull themselves to stand
and wave their arms in the air.
I can’t see it but I know their hands are in fists.
I can’t hear it but I know they are cheering.
Even the loons call to celebrate their arrival!

I sit on my dock
dangling my feet in the water
counting dragonflies.

My father and brothers
come closer
and from the water
lift their faces with
wild wet smiles
And I think

This year!

-Mary Atkinson, Swimming to the Rock

 

Why a Homeschool Coop Park Date at Wakulla Springs?

As a girl, any occasion to trade the hot, non-air-conditioned burg of Tallahassee for a swim at Wakulla Springs was welcome. The addition of a reunion, complete with scads of cousins, made it all the sweeter. But I wasn’t the oldest child in the tribe. And so it was that I would make an occasional trek to that third platform up. Suspended above the waters I lingered, nonchalant. Here I would lose the trail of my heroes as they flung themselves joyfully into the abyss, certain that – at some point- I would follow. No kid could resist. Today there are only two levels, but the thrill remains. The chilly water is home to a host of fish and bird species, not to mention plants and butterflies. What better place for a homeschool co-op park date?

How difficult is it to get to Wakulla Springs from Tallahassee?

children sitting and standing on a floating dock watching something off camera
teenagers standing in waist deep water with one child swimming between them

Just 25 minutes south of Tallahassee lies the booming town of Crawfordville, with the Springs at its outskirts. After paying a small entry fee, we wound our way to the dirt parking beside the Spring house. Within twenty minutes, we were changed into suits (courtesy of the bath houses at the Spring Shop area) and had set up camp chairs under a huge cypress tree. The diving challenge was met, and our troops settled in for long morning in the water.

Activities for Co-ops at Wakulla Springs

We had several options besides swimming: the Jungle Cruise Boat Tour, the Edwin Ball Dining Room, the Soda Fountain, the Lodge Hotel and the trails. While I anticipated enjoying the forty minute boat ride, my peep couldn’t bear to leave Marco Polo. Due to the cloudiness of the water, the boats are no longer glass bottomed, but the landscape is still as lovely as ever. The tour guides give a lovely history of how the largest freshwater spring in the world became Wakulla Springs. And, for old horror film or archaeology buffs, the guides share some particularly interesting tidbits. I’ll not spoil them for you. It’s very much like riding through a documentary. Except the gators are quite tangible in this one. (And this is why we tour the Wakulla River from a boat or canoe instead of an innertube.)

Co-op Munching Options at Wakulla Springs

The Edwin Ball Dining Room is a full service restaurant, with a delectable menu. Since wet bathing suits are not admitted, we picnicked at the front of the lodge. Among a covered pavilion and about a dozen tables, some of our party struck up a game of cornhole toss. There were plenty of garbage cans, as well as a small grill. I regretted that the Springs Shop (located by the bathroom) being closed on Monday. There were vending machines by the bathrooms, but I was hoping to find some squirt guns to spice up our afternoon play. The kids never missed them.

a covered wooden pavilion over several picnic tables
a sun dappled field skirted with shaded picnic tables
children playing cornhole in the shade

The Soda Fountain at the Wakulla Springs Lodge

large stuffed alligator in a glass display case
long marble bar in old fashioned candy and ice cream store
large pastel swirled ice cream cone
mint chocolate chip, chocolate, birthday cake and butter pecan ice cream in waffle cones

When we dried out and packed up around three, it was time to tour the ice cream at the Soda Fountain. Across the hotel lobby the dining room was running a brisk business for three o clock.  I made like a tourist and snapped a few pictures of “Old Joe”, the huge stuffed alligator that has welcomed visitors since 1966. We were sad to have missed a chance to hear John Beggs, whose company we had the pleasure of, play ragtime tunes on the grand piano. (Another artist spotted it first). Those fun, sweet tunes would fit quite well in that high-ceiling hall.  My youngest wanted to play checkers or chess there, but the marble counters of the Soda Shop called. The flavor list was short, but delightful standards. It was agreed that this was ice cream worthy of several more generations of spring divers. 

More Homeschool Coop Field Trip Date Possibilities

There are so many opportunities for new adventures: bird watching, (more) wildlife watching (including manatees), horse trails, scuba diving,  geocaching…the list seems endless. Bring a camera. This is a gem that will keep your family returning for generations.

  • Lifeguards are not always on duty.
  • Keep your people INSIDE of the roped-off section. It is NOT a net to keep gators out, but people in an area away from gators. 
  • Feeding manatees is against state law.
  • Bring a chair for the shoreline as there isn’t much seating.
  • Showers and bathrooms are available.
  • No wet suits in the Lodge.
  • You can not park in front of the Spring House, and it’s about a five minute walk with all the paraphernalia. Spring House Shop is closed on Mondays.
  • Per the website, Edwin Ball Dining Room is reservation only. (You can use the link above).
  • Water shoes are not necessary, but nice. (As are snorkels and waterscopes. Mosquitoes were expected, but not noticed.)
  • The water is not often clear (due to backflow from another spring with lots of tannins). Bright bathing suits are great for less competent swimmers.
  • Boat Tours need advance reservations either online or at the Lodge’s concierge desk. (You can use the link above.)’

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