FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Alligators, Tarzan and the Creature from Black Lagoon in Wakulla Springs, Florida

by Debra Bokur

May 14, 2024

© Visit Tallahassee

Daily

Close to the side of my tour boat — make that very close — a mother alligator rests in the reedy shallows of the Wakulla Springs shoreline, her long, prehistoric-looking nose pointed in my direction. If she thinks I’m going to bother her fleet of small offspring, also visible near the shore, she is mistaken. I’m too busy looking for any relatives of Tarzan, or for the 1954 cult movie monster Creature from the Black Lagoon who might be lurking in the trees.

Part of Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, this is Old Florida at its very best. It’s easy to understand why movie filmmakers were drawn here, and how much fun cinematographers from Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941) and Creature from the Black Lagoon might have had planning shots among the moss-draped cypress trees, swamp and lush ground cover.

Movie poster

© Debra Bokur

Wakulla is recognized as one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. While my reptilian encounter was certainly a highlight of my cruise, there was plenty more to take in. The host of fascinating birds and plant life includes spider lily flowers, manatees, bald cypress trees, snake birds and osprey. You can see it all yourself while enjoying a relaxing jungle cruise tour in a river boat, such as the one piloted by guide-musician Collin Johnson. In fact, the springs have been drawing visitors since 1875, when rowboats were fitted out with windowpane hulls to enable passengers to see into the water.

The springs are so remarkably clear, an entire mastodon skeleton was sited (and retrieved) from the depths and is now on display at Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee.

Wakulla Springs

© Visit Tallahassee

When you arrive — or before you head home — make time to enjoy a meal in Edward Ball Dining Room in the main Lodge at Wakulla Springs. This graceful space includes architectural details like Tennessee marble, hand-hewn cypress, wildlife scenes painted on the ceiling and a historic Art Deco elevator original to the building.

In the dining room, enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner and a menu of well-loved classic Southern specialties including Eggs Dupont, Southern Charm biscuits and gravy, key lime pie, fried pickles, gumbo or shrimp and grits. Save room for a treat. The Soda Fountain in the Parlor features what is believed to be the longest marble counter in the world, and serves up sundaes and old-timey libations including root beer floats, ginger yips and cherry phosphates.

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