Silver Springs, home of the famous glass bottom boats and a major tourist attraction opening its gates in 1852. The glass bottom boat tours began around 1870. Silver Springs was one of Florida's first tourist attractions. In 1971 it was designated a National Natural Landmark.
I remember going there with my parents as a kid. It was quite something. Not only did we get to ride the glass bottom boats and tour the 200+ acres, but there was a variety of local wild life on display including birds, like flamingos and reptiles like alligators. For a pre-adolescent kid, this was exciting and a great place. I still remember it, though probably a bit more vaguely now at my current age.
Sadly, since I was there as a kid, there has been a fair amount of development in the area. This has caused all kinds of issues including run off and sewage issues that clouded the pristine, crystal clear waters of the artesian spring. The spring pumps out some 550 million gallons of water per day.
A small amusement park was opened and operated on the property, but has since closed due to declining tourist counts. The property also has a water park called Wild Waters. Because it was becoming run down and no longer generating the revenue to cover the cost of upkeep and maintenance, it has ultimately become a Florida State Park. It's in a sad state of disrepair and no longer can draw the crowds that would rather visit Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, ET and Shamus the whale in Orlando.
My feeling, well, there goes another part of my childhood. Nothing stays the same. Time marches on just as it did with Marineland on the Florida Atlantic coast.