The Sunshine State is known for its year-round hot sunny weather, and what better way to cool down than with a dip in a freshwater spring? The springs of Florida boast incredible crystal blue waters, and although the temperatures can get quite high in the state, the springs stay perfectly cool all year thanks to the freshwater flowing into them. There are actually a surprising amount of springs in Florida, and that is because the land has layers of limestone and dolomite, which rainwater can easily dissolve. This is also the reason why sinkholes are such an issue in the state. So whether you are looking to kayak, dive, or just spend the day swimming with the family, here is a list of the best springs in Florida!
Madison Blue Spring Park
Madison Blue Spring Park, located just over an hour’s drive east of Tallahassee, is one of the best natural springs in Florida to visit for families and divers.
Diving at Blue Spring is internationally known as the spring has a unique underwater cave system and incredible underwater landscapes. However, no open diving is allowed, only certified cave and cavern diving. The park boasts 26,000 feet of subsurface tunnels and passages that are waiting to be explored!
Blue Spring is 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep and flows into the Withlacoochee River via a 150-foot spring run, making it the perfect spot for the whole family to swim. Some areas are as deep as 25 feet and as shallow as five feet, making it ideal for both advanced swimmers and young children. Visitors are welcome to bring their own tubes and float in the spring or down the Withlacoochee River.
Other activities at the park include canoeing and kayaking (no rentals available at the park), fishing along the river, and picnicking at the pavilions and barbecues.
Wakulla Springs Park
Welcome to the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs! Wakulla Springs Park, located a 30-minute drive from Tallahassee, is home to the biggest and deepest freshwater springs in Florida – and the world!
The springs stay a perfect 70°F all year round, making it the ideal spot for anyone looking to cool off on a hot summer day. Around the springs are the remains of an ancient cypress swamp, as well as tall pines, providing an enchanting look into Florida’s best nature. Notable movies have even been filmed in the park and springs, such as Tarzan’s Secret Treasure and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
There are plenty of activities to discover here as well, other than just the springs. Visitors can take a guided boat cruise or wander through the 1930s Spanish-style homestead, complete with antique furnishings and colorful décor. Divers are not permitted to dive in the Wakulla Spring but can discover two other underwater cave systems: the Clearcut Sink and the Emerald Sink. Snorkeling is permitted in the main spring.
Just south of Gainesville lies an uncredible prehistoric spring featuring crystal clear waters and fossil beds dating back 33 million years.
Devil’s Den is one of the best Florida springs for snorkeling and diving. Visitors walk down a small ladder into the spring cave to a wooden platform surrounded by 72°F waters and ancient rock formations. The park also features five cabanas, over 30 picnic tables, a heated swimming pool, charcoal grills, and lawn games. Both snorkeling and scuba diving equipment are available for rent.
For those who have always wanted to get their diving certificate, Devil’s Den Spring is a certified diving training center. Visitors can hire an instructor and learn at the on-site facilities.
Three Sisters Springs
Are you looking to get up close and personal with some manatees? There is only one place in North America you can do it, and that is at Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River.
This incredible nature preserve is known for its wintering manatees and allows visitors to float alongside these gentle giants in kayaks or canoes or take a swim tour. Manatees are very curious but are protected by law, so every tourist planning on doing a swim tour must undergo a briefing on what to do when interacting with them. There are manatees that stay in the waters all year round, but the manatee season is from November to March when the creatures escape the cold Gulf waters and take refuge in the warmth from the springs.
While there are a few springs that flow into Crystal River, Three Sisters Spring is the one of the best springs in Florida for swimming. If you want to book a tour to swim with the manatees, we recommend this three-hour tour from GetYourGuide.
Blue Springs State Park
This incredible park is one of the most popular parks in Florida with springs for families. Located just under an hour north of Orlando, Blue Springs State Park features plenty of fun activities. Guests can rent kayaks, canoes, or tubes to float down the river or in the springs or rent snorkel gear to explore the spring boil. Boat tours can also be purchased.
The park is extremely popular not only because of the beauty of the springs but because of its proximity to Orlando. The park often reaches maximum capacity early in the day, so it’s best to get there as early as possible to ensure you get in. The park has three large pavilions at the park that are first-come, first-serve.
Tucked away just 30 minutes outside Ocala is the stunning Rainbow Spring State Park. This park with springs in Florida is a fantastic spot to cool off in the summer by taking a dip in the incredible turquoise 72°F waters.
After the dip, visitors can hike to one of three man-made waterfalls in the park or take a walk through the gardens. There are tube rentals for those wishing to sit back and relax while floating down the river and a canoe launch for those who want to spend the day paddling. Other amenities include an amphitheater, a campground, and an on-site restaurant and concession.
Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Located deep in the Ocala National Forest is a hidden gem called Alexander Springs. These lesser-known springs boast incredible nature surrounding them, including tall palm trees and maple trees. The springs have a unique sand-sloped entrance that makes you feel like you’re at the beach.
Within the Ocala National Forest, only Alexander Springs allows for scuba diving and open water diving. Visitors can also explore the water via canoe, which can be rented from the visitors center. Start the day off with a hike along the 0.9-mile interpretive loop, then cool off in the stunningly clear 72°F springs.
Famous for its multiple stunningly clear springs, Ginnie Springs is easily one of Florida’s best springs.
The springs are located 45 minutes northwest of Gainesville. There is an abundance of activities to be found here, including camping. In fact, Ginnie Springs is famous for its Memorial Day festivities. Visitors can rent tubes at the visitors center or bring their own and float down the Santa Fe River, stopping at rope swings along the way. They can also rent kayaks/canoes/stand up paddleboards to paddle along the waters or rent snorkeling gear to explore the underwater caves. There are plenty of springs to go around as the park boasts five different springs: Ginnie Spring, Devil’s Ear Spring, Twin Spring, Deer Spring, and Dogwood Spring. The park also features beach volleyball courts, pavilions, charcoal grills, and an on-site concession stand.
Ginnie Springs is very popular with locals as it is the only spring in Florida that permits alcohol, so visitors can do a booze cruise down the river. It gets very busy on weekends, especially in the summer months and around holidays. Ginnie is a privately owned spring so all visitors are required to sign a waiver to enter the park, and it is a bit more expensive than the state-owned parks.
Divers can enjoy three different world-class diving sites: at the Santa Fe River, the Ginnie Spring Ballroom, and the Devil’s Spring System. Ginnie boasts some of the best springs in Florida for diving.
Weeki Wachee State Springs
Weeki Wachee State Springs combines incredible entertainment with the natural beauty of Florida, creating a truly unique way to experience springs.
The park, located an hour north of Tampa, has been transformed into a sort of theme park featuring rides, a water park, and live mermaid shows. Pictures truly do not give this lush paradise enough credit. Visitors can also rent kayaks or canoes to explore the waterways or swim in the springs themselves! Weeki Wachee is home to the country’s deepest underwater cave system, but only divers who are part of an organized group associated with a dive shop can apply for a dive pass.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
The springs at Ichetucknee Springs State Park offer refreshing freshwater fun for the whole family and are located an hour north of Gainesville.
The park features a six-mile river that is perfect for stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking, as no motorized vehicles are allowed on the water. Visitors can also rent tubes and float down the river in hopes of seeing turtles, wild turkeys, and maybe even a beaver or two. There are two main springs at the park. Head Springs is more family-friendly as it has shallow shores along the side where little ones can wade. There are also picnic tables and a seasonal food truck nearby. The second spring is Blue Hole Spring, which is deeper and stays at a consistent 72°F all year. The park also features hiking and biking trails.
Gilchrist Blue Springs
Down the road from Ginnie Springs is another set of fantastic springs to explore, Gilchrist Blue Springs.
The park is home to five incredible crystal clear blue springs. Guests can walk along the boardwalk and try to spot sunfish, bass, and catfish in the waters or take a dip in the main spring. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rent at the park and can be used to explore the Santa Fe River. Only one spring is available for water activities as the others are under restoration. Visitors can pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic at one of the pavilions or picnic tables.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area
Dead smack in the middle of the Ocala National Forest, about 35 minutes from Ocala, are the incredibly clear blue waters at Juniper Springs.
The Florida Trail passes right through the park, offering fantastic day hiking under lush green canopies and tall pine trees. The springs are perfect for swimming and snorkeling as one side is shallow and the other side is deep enough to jump into and splash around. Visitors can also spend the day paddling along Juniper Creek around the old-forest live oak trees with a canoe or kayak rental from the park rental shop.
Silver Glens Springs Recreation Area
Under a canopy of live oak trees and palms near Ocala lie the Silver Glens Springs. These dazzling clear waters stay at a perfect 73°F all year round, offering a refreshing break from the Florida heat.
Unfortunately, scuba diving is not permitted here, but guests are encouraged to bring their own snorkels to get up close and personal with the underwater wildlife. These Florida freshwater springs are about 200 feet wide with a river run that flows 3,300 feet into Florida’s second-largest lake, Lake George. Visitors can spend the day hiking or swimming, then set up at one of the picnic tables and grills for an afternoon cookout! Kayak and canoe rentals are also available.
Rock Springs at Kelly Park
This 355-acre park 35 minutes north of Orlando boasts lush scenery with plenty of activities for everyone!
The park offers tubing, a playground, and beautiful 68°F springs to swim in and cool off in the summer months. Visitors can rent stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes and go paddling up Rock Springs Run, or hike on the Kelly Park Hiking Trail and take in all the beauty of Florida’s natural landscapes. If you want to spend the day floating, you can rent a tube from independent vendors outside the park or bring your own. Pavilions are also available to rent out for the day on the park’s website.
Because of their proximity to Orlando and their popularity, the springs can reach capacity very early in the day. It is recommended you get there as early as possible to ensure you gain entrance to the park.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Welcome to the stunning clear waters of Homosassa Springs! These incredible waters are known for their diverse water life.
Perhaps the most unique part of this park is the Underwater Observatory, where visitors can watch manatees and fish swim around under the surface of the springs. Although visitors are not allowed to swim in the springs, there are fantastic hiking trails and boardwalks that allow visitors a glimpse into the crystal waters below and hiking among some of Florida’s most pristine nature. After a morning hike, check out the Wildside Café for a bite to eat!
That brings our list of springs in Florida to an end, but now you know where to find the best of Florida’s natural springs! So, beat the heat this summer and head to one of these fantastic springs for some freshwater fun. Just don’t forget to pack sunscreen; it is the Sunshine State, after all.