Florida is known for its marvelous beaches, bustling cities, and theme parks, but it’s got a lot more to offer visitors who want to do things a little differently.
The Sunshine State is home to tons of crystal-clear springs scattered all over its terrain, where visitors can spend days on end swimming, kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, and even manatee viewing if they know where to look.
If you’re looking to add a few natural springs into your Florida itinerary, here are some of the best ones out there!
The Best Springs in Florida
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Located close to the town of Fort White, Ichetucknee Springs State Park boasts a total of eight crystal-clear springs along the Ichetucknee River. Here, you can enjoy all sorts of water adventures amid lush pine forests, including swimming and tubing down the river.
Out-of-the-water activities include hiking three nature trails and wildlife viewing. The park is home to beavers, otters, turtles, wild turkeys, ducks, and more, making it a great place to head to if you want to see some of Florida’s best fauna!
Weeki Wachee Springs
Weeki Wachee is an enchanting spring that feeds into the Wichi Wachee River. This legendary adventure combines water fun, wildlife viewing, and vintage Florida.
The main attraction here is the park’s live mermaid show, where you’ll get to see a classic show of almost-real mermaids swimming about! Another fun attraction to try is a cruise down the river. Swimming and kayaking are allowed in designated areas.
In recent years, scientists and divers have discovered that Weeki Wachee is part of the deepest known freshwater cave system in the United States, which they continue exploring.
De Leon Springs State Park (Defuniak Springs)
The spring was named in honor of Juan Ponce de Leon, an explorer who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513. De Leon Springs is an amazing destination to cool off in the 68-degree waters that are said to contain healing properties.
Besides dipping in the legendary spring and the famous Fountain of Youth, you can hike a few nature trails through a lush subtropical forest, visit a massive ancient bald cypress tree, fish, kayak, and canoe.
Ginnie Springs takes the cake when it comes to popular springs in Florida. Besides featuring some of the clearest waters in the state, Ginnie Springs is also home to one of the deepest underground cave systems in the United States. Seven springs, white sand, clear water, and caves guarantee a fantastic getaway for causal goers, serious snorkelers, and cave divers alike.
This is also a very popular spot with young people who chose to stay in the various campgrounds on site. Ginnie Springs is the only spring area where drinking is allowed, which explains why many college students flock to the area for a mix of water adventures and parties.
Three Sisters Springs (Crystal River)
Three Sisters Springs is a 57-acre wetland that also happens to be the largest winter refuge for manatees on the Gulf Coast area of Florida.
If you are interested in viewing West Indian manatees and other wildlife, this is the perfect spring for you to do that. This natural inlet by Kings Bay houses five natural springs, Lake Crystal, and several wetlands, all of which attract curious manatees seeking warmer waters during the winter months.
You can take a trolley tour to observe them from the boardwalk or take a guided paddle tour or kayak to get closer to them.
Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs has been a favorite spot for centuries, having been a sacred place for indigenous people that inhabited the area and later for 19th-century pioneers who settled in the Ocala Area.
The freshwater springs, lush vegetation, and astounding wildlife of Silver Springs have even been used in several movies, including Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Plus, Silver Spring State Park is home to at least 300 rhesus macaques, a monkey native to south and southeast Asia, among many other animals who call this area their home.
Popular activities here include glass-bottom boating and kayaking. While adventuring around the springs, you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot turtles, alligators, and maybe even some manatees if you get lucky.
As a bonus, make sure you also visit the on-site museum and the re-created 19th-century pioneer settlement in order to learn about the history of the place.
Alexander Springs Recreation Area (Altoona)
Nestled in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is a dream for water adventurers, especially snorkelers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders.
Plus, if you’d like to see thousands of colorful fish or spot a turtle swimming amid lilies, Alexander Springs is a great place for outstanding snorkeling. This is also a superb spot for hiking and swimming if you’re traveling with kids, as the trails are light and they have a gently sloped spring pool.
Blue Springs State Park (Orange City)
Blue Springs is the largest spring feeding the St. Johns River and is also one of the most popular springs in Florida. Boasting 2,600 acres of lush forested land, its warm 73-degree waters make it a natural manatee refuge area during the winter.
While swimming is not allowed during manatee season, the park offers plenty of adventures year-round, including, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping, cabin rentals, and picnicking.
Rainbow Springs (Dunnellon)
Rainbow Springs State Park is not only a lovely natural spot boasting the fourth largest spring in Florida, but it is also a historical site dating back more than 10,000 years when indigenous people inhabited the area.
Here, you can hike amidst moss-covered cypress trees and beautiful floral gardens, stunning waterfalls, and a total of five natural springs. Then, you can swim in the springs, tube, or paddle down the river, and get to spot wildlife that roams the area, including deer, foxes, and wild turkeys.