Visiting the St. Johns title graphic
The St. Johns River was Florida's first tourist attraction. Although the steamboats that plied its waters in the 1800s have disappeared, the beauty and mystique of the river remain. Learn here how you can experience the great St. Johns River.
Important Disclaimer
The producers and sponsors of The River Returns make no warranty, promise, or guarantee that the information contained herein is comprehensive or all-inclusive. The information contained here is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind and for general information purposes only. The entire risk as to the results and performance of any information obtained herein is entirely assumed by the recipient.
Public Lands
A great way to experience the St. Johns River is by exploring public lands and state parks that line its banks. Here are a few starting points:
Recreation Guide to District Lands
The St. Johns River Water Management District buys land in order to protect water resources and plant and wildlife habitat. In turn, these lands become available for public recreation and environmental recreation. The SJRWMD has created a comprehensive guide to enjoying public lands under its management, including downloadable maps in PDF format, and can be viewed via this link.
Blue Spring State Park
The largest spring on the St. Johns River, Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home (mid-November through March) to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. The spring´s crystal clear, 73´degree water can be enjoyed by swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers with a partner. Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted and is strictly enforced. The river is popular for fishing, canoeing, and boating. For more information, visit the Blue Spring State Park website.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, the beautiful vistas within this park offer a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands. Just one hour from most central Florida attractions, Wekiva Springs offers visitors the opportunity to relax in a natural setting, enjoy a picnic, or take a swim in the cool spring. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along the Wekiva River, a major tributary of the St. Johns River. For more information, visit the Wekiwa Springs State Park website.
Houseboat Journeys
There's no better way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the St. Johns River than on a houseboat. Here are a few resources for arranging your own houseboat journey:
River Adventures
The River Returns documentary team spent several weeks cruising the St. Johns River on two 60 ft. long houseboats rented from River Adventures, based in Palatka, FL. For more information, visit the River Adventures website.
Additional Houseboat Resources
There are a number of businesses that rent houseboats along different sections of the St. Johns River. A list of additional options can be viewed at this Houseboat Rental website.
Bass Fishing
What Nashville is to country music, the St. Johns River is to bass fishing. While the river provides good fishin' its entire length, a couple of areas are particularly noteworthy for largemouth bass. Here are a couple of suggestions:
Lake George Region
The River Returns documentary team was guided on a day of bass fishing in the Lake George area by Adam Delaney, guide and dockmaster of the Georgetown Marina and Lodge. Learn more about bass fishing in the Lake George region by contacting the Georgetown Marina using the phone or email info provided below:

Email address:
Phone number: 386-467-2002
Farm 13 and Blue Cypress Lake
Farm 13 is a remarkable success story of wetlands restoration. Once a radish farm, this huge reservoir offers some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the world. South of Farm 13 is Blue Cypress Lake, a bass fishing hotspot at which the fishing is matched by the natural beauty. Middleton's Fish Camp operates lodging, bait, tackle, and boat rental shops near both locations. Learn more about fishing Blue Cypress and Farm 13 at Middleton's website.
Fishing Licenses
Residents and non-residents are required to have fishing licenses. You can purchase a fishing license online through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website.
Canoeing and Kayaking
From marshes, springs, and tributaries, to the main channel of the river, the St. Johns provides a vast array of canoeing and kayaking opportunities. Included below are several resources to get you started in your plans:
Florida's Greenways and Trails website
Florida Sea Kayaking Association website
Bed and Breakfast Inns
The St. Johns River is 310-miles long, with its watershed and tributaries reaching into 14 counties. Surrounding areas range from wilderness wetlands to some of Florida's largest cities, including Orlando and Jacksonville. Lodging options range from fish camps to international hotel chains. For lodging suggestions in specific areas, contact area Chambers of Commerce listed through the link provided in the next section. If you enjoy Bed and Breakfast-type accommodations, read on. The River Returns documentary team enjoyed the hospitality of two of the area's Bed and Breakfast Inns during their stays in Jacksonville and Palatka. You can learn more about these establishment by visiting their websites:
Additional Bed and Breakfast resources:
The Florida Inns website provides an interactive map that can help you identify other Bed and Breakfast Inns in the St. Johns River region.
St. Johns River Region's Chambers of Commerce
The St. Johns River watershed runs through, or touches upon, the central, central eastern, and northeastern regions of Florida, an area that's home to Florida's most popular attractions, including the theme parks in Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center, and Daytona Beach.

Learn more about visiting this region by visiting the websites of the Chambers of Commerce throughout the area.

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The Water's Journey: The River Returns film
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