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Florida has more than 700 natural freshwater springs, more than anywhere else on earth, with water so pristine that it is not uncommon to spot exotic fish and manatee floating nearby. Whether you’re planning a family outing or just want to cool off on one of Florida’s infamously hot summer days, the refreshing spring water in one of these unique nature spots is sure to meet your needs. Great for swimming, kayaking, paddling, and manatee watching, here are 10 gorgeous springs in Florida for the nature enthusiast.
If swimming with manatees is on your bucket list, visiting Crystal River is a must. Loved by photographers and nature lovers alike, locals flock to the area for a chance to observe while these gentle giants interact in their natural environment. You can either take a tour and let an expert lead you to the manatees, and introduce you to one of the most lovable endangered species, or you can grab a canoe, kayak, or snorkel gear and explore the park for yourself.
Known for its famous underwater theater and mermaid show, this “Old Florida” attraction has more to offer than kitschy nostalgia. Now a developed state park, Weeki Wachee attracts those looking for crystal clear water perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Combined with a water park for the kids, it’s a great spot to cool off and enjoy the fun for all ages slides that feed into Buccaneer Bay.
The oldest and one of the best springs in Central Florida, Rainbow Springs has evidence that people have been enjoying it for over 10,000 years. Visitors recommended walking through the moss-covered Cypress trees to spot floral gardens, impressive waterfalls, and five main springs before indulging in a refreshing dip. Those looking to relax will find they are spoiled for choice, as Rainbow Springs is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. The more adventurous can grab a tube and paddle through the river or hike one of the trails known for spotting fox squirrels, turkeys, and deer.
Rock Springs is located in Kelly Park, just 30 minutes from Orlando. A local favorite, this beautifully shaded park is perfect for escaping the heat. The freshwater spills into a series of pools where hoards of people grab their tubes and float for a quarter mile down the crystal clear waters in what will sure to make you lose track of time. A can’t miss experience for a small group is a guided glass bottom kayak eco tour through a unique part of Rock Springs Run known as “Emerald Cut.”
If you’re a tubing enthusiast, Ichetucknee Springs State Park will make your heart sing. With an impressive nine crystal clear springs, tubers can float to their heart’s content in one of Florida’s favorite spots. If you’re the adrenaline-seeking type, the park is home to Blue Hole Spring and the only place where cave diving is allowed. Blue Hole Spring is the largest out of the nine and is popular with scuba divers looking to explore something truly unique.
Recognized as one of the clearest springs in Florida, Ginnie Springs is a popular spring in North Florida and a hotspot for swimming, tubing, snorkeling, and diving. Perfect for floating the day away, the river is a blissful spot for tubing and relaxation. The crown and jewel of this area are the 1,000 feet of subterranean passages underneath a 50-foot head spring giving access to another mind-blowing 30,000 feet of passages, a paradise for cave and open-water divers looking for adventure.
The largest spring on the St. John’s River, Blue Springs State Park covers more than 2,600 acres and is a Manatee refuge. While swimming is not permitted during the manatee season (November through March) the spring’s 73-degree temperature is perfect for summer activities. Swimming is the most popular activity, as the forested banks and pale blue waters in the swimming hole are a quarter-mile of perfection.
Contrasting the surrounding forests of oak, cedar, and pines, the Silver Glen Springs is an oasis for the senses. The blue-green waters will take your breath away and is one of the best in Florida, but it is what is underneath that will pique your interest. Floating above the shallow sandy bottom of this spring you will find tilapia, striped bass, and an array of other types of fish. It is no wonder that this spot was popular with Native Americans and European settlers dating back 7,000 years ago.
Located in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is popular with locals. With a chance to spot a turtle swimming through the lilies, this area is a great place to snorkel and gawk at the plethora of fish. Kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are popular activities, along with touring surrounding trails coated with cabbage palms, maples, and magnolias.
A complex and intricate feat of nature, Peacock Springs prides itself in providing two pristine springs, a spring run, and six sinkholes. With this impressive resume, it is no surprise that Peacock Springs is world renowned, attracting cave divers from all corners of the world eager to explore one of the longest underwater cave structures in the United States. For those seeking a more low-key experience, there is no need to worry. There is a small swimming hole in which to relax and trails to explore, giving visitors of all ages an opportunity to appreciate this gem in all its glory.