Most people visit Florida for its famous beaches, amusement parks, and bustling nightlife, and many tourists overlook the Sunshine State’s impressive collection of stunning natural springs. These awe-inspiring ecosystems are home to thriving aquatic plants, exciting wildlife, and beautiful rock formations you’ll have to see to believe. Plus, the crisp and crystal-clear water is always the perfect temperature for swimmers!
If you’re keen on exploring Florida’s natural beauty, this guide will help you narrow down your list of natural springs to visit.
Best Natural Springs In Florida To Visit
You won’t find a natural spring in Florida that isn’t breathtakingly gorgeous. Consider these Florida springs if you’re unsure where to start your outdoor excursion.
De Leon Springs
Once dubbed Acuera or “healing waters” by Mayaca Indians, the De Leon Springs were once home to a sugarcane mill during the Civil War. Thanks to steadfast conservation efforts, the circular basin remains close to its original state and is a favorite amongst tourists who want to escape the summer heat.
Once you’re refreshed and rejuvenated, you and your travel companions can enjoy a fluffy buttery pancake at the neighboring Sugar Mill Restaurant.
Wekiwa Springs State Park is a must-see destination in Central Florida. Offering crystal clear 72 degree waters for swimming, snorkeling or lounging, and canoe or kayak rentals to explore the area, this park has something for everyone.
Rent a canoe or kayak for an immersive experience with nearby rivers like Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. Ideal location for getting up close with true Florida nature and its wildlife.
Rock Springs Kelly Park
At a chilly 68 degrees, the water at Rock Springs Kelly Park is a bit cooler than most. Still, that makes it the perfect destination for travelers who want to escape the searing Florida heat.
Tubers can float down the lazy river and catch a glimpse of Rock Springs’ unique fish and turtle population. The area is also popular with canoers and kayakers.
Tucked away in a more subtropical area of the Ocala National Forest is the Juniper Springs. Engulfed by towering flora and swaying palms, Juniper Springs has to be one of Florida’s most picturesque natural destinations.
Kayakers and canoers frequent Juniper Springs, but you can trek its seven-mile trail if you prefer to stay on foot. However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for otters and alligators –these guys can get a little feisty!
Silver Glen Springs
Also located within the Ocala National Forest is the Silver Glen Springs, whose robin’s-egg-blue waters are picture-perfect and incredibly refreshing. Here, you’ll encounter many freshwater and saltwater fish and maybe even the occasional manatee.
A little-known fact about Silver Glen Springs is that it’s also an archeological site! If you have a keen eye, you might spot a handful of fossilized snail shells along its shorelines.
Alexander Springs is one of Florida’s biggest springs, producing almost 65 million gallons of water daily. It was once home to the indigenous Timucan people, who preserved the land’s maples, cabbage palms, and sweetgum trees.
Besides swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving, travelers can enjoy other activities like hiking, camping, and sightseeing.
Devil’s Den is Florida’s most prehistoric spring, located underground. Visitors must walk down a wooden staircase to get to this ethereal below-deck wonderland. It’s a hotspot for divers and snorkelers, who can descend up to 54 feet into its clear waters.
Overnighters can book nearby cabins or make use of the RV parking. Families and groups will appreciate the area’s dedicated charcoal grills and picnic tables, perfect after a dip.
Are you in for a thrilling afternoon outdoors? If so, the best way to swim in the Royal Springs is to dive off a platform! Mind that the deep end of the lake is 43 deep, so tread (and swim) carefully.
Families and groups can also claim picnic tables and use the boat ramp.
Fanning Spring State Park
Follow the winding rivers along the Suwannee, and you’ll end up in Fanning Spring State Park. This spring is over a thousand years old and incredibly well-preserved. Once home to Paleo-Indian peoples, Fanning Spring boasts dozens of aboriginal sites.
Ginnie Springs in Florida boasts impeccably clear waters, white sand, enchanting caves, and quirky aquatic critters. The spring comprises seven smaller springs, home to species like catfish, mullet, bass, and turtles.
At this Florida High Springs location, you’ll never run out of things to do. Here, you can kayak, canoe, swim, snorkel, paddleboard, tube, raft, and more.
Beyond its luxuriously clear waters, this visitor hotspot also has volleyball courts, picnic areas, and a playground for younger tourists. Ginnie is also one of the best Florida springs with camping provisions.
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park
True to its name, the Peacock Springs at Wes Skiles boasts vivid blue and green hues that make for a jaw-dropping visual treat. In addition, the area has two springs and six spring holes, making it the ideal destination for all types of swimmers and explorers.
Experienced divers will want to explore its unique underwater cave system with over 33,000 feet of passages. Divers must present their scuba certification to behold the enormous turtle skeleton inside The Crypt.
On the other hand, non-divers can instead hike some of Peacock Spring’s award-winning trails and learn everything they need to know about the local flora and fauna through educational signs.
Little River Springs
Little River Springs is a 150-foot-long tea-colored clear river with perfect swimming conditions. Like Peacock Springs, Little River has its own 1,200-foot underwater cave system.
Fans of natural architecture won’t want to miss out on Little River’s limestone shelf, which is ideal for snorkeling and wading. When you aren’t enjoying the crisp and clear waters, explore Little River’s 125 acres of land. Plus, entering the area is completely free!
Gilchrist Blue Springs
The Gilchrist Blue Springs is Florida’s newest natural attraction, pouring 44 million gallons of water into the Santa Fe River daily. These waters are home to dozens of ecological habitats that support fish, turtle, and invertebrate populations.
This Florida high spring has a vent over 20 feet deep, perfect for diving and a few cannonballs here and there. It also has rippling shallows ideal for children and snorkelers. Spend enough time with your head under the water, and you might catch a glimpse of some sunfish!
Visitors should arrive early, as this bustling tourist destination is often at full capacity by noon.
Ichetucknee Spring State Park
It’s not that easy to spell, but Ichetucknee Spring State Park is easy to enjoy! It has one of the most popular natural lazy rivers in Florida and is home to highly diverse wildlife populations. Here, you’ll witness the fascinating pancake-looking soft-shell turtle, beavers, otters, and limpkins (Florida water birds).
Ichetucknee Park contains eight different springs with unique characteristics for snorkeling and exploring. Hikers can choose from three trails of varying difficulty levels and scenery.
You will want to bring your bug spray to stay comfortable while you spend your day at Ichetucknee Spring State Park.
Rum Island Springs County Park
Rum Island Springs State Park is every tourist’s gateway to canoeing, swimming, snorkeling, and cooling off under the hot Florida sun. The park is open year-round and does come with a small entrance fee, but splashing around in this beautiful oasis is worth every penny! Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen.
If you’re not big on other water attractions and want to spend a quiet afternoon outdoors with family, Rum Island is the place to be.
Deemed the deepest and largest freshwater spring in the world, Wakulla Springs is a sight to behold. It was even home to the set of Tarzan’s Secret Treasure, filmed in the 1940s! Wakulla County is also a National Natural Landmark and an Archaeological and Historic District.
In the main spring, you’ll find a wooden tower that adrenaline seekers love to use as a jump-off point into the water. Adventurers will also love Wakulla Spring’s channel of underwater caves.
For visitors who want to catch a glimpse of the spring’s manatees, alligators, and turtles, hop on the 45-minute River Boat Tour. Your guide will know where to find them!
Madison Blue Springs
Madison Blue Springs is a popular swimming hole 25 feet deep and 82 feet wide. You can hop on a raft, float in a tube, or paddle along its 150-foot run. Madison Blue, like many Florida springs, has crystal-clear waters and is brimming with catfish and turtles.
If you’re an experienced diver, rent some scuba gear and get up close and personal with these underwater critters!
Ninety minutes from Tampa Bay is the Crystal River, home to three of Florida’s most famous springs. Its network consists of 40 natural springs that empty into the Gulf of Mexico. Note that Crystal Rivers is only accessible by boat, so you’ll want to book a ride to this “water lover’s paradise” in advance.
While you are there, check out all that Crystal River has to offer with this guide.
Three Sister Springs
Animal lovers must drop by Three Sister Springs, home to the famous Florida manatee! These gentle giant sea cows are incredibly friendly and love to swim with humans. Before you swim with some brand-new manatee friends, local guides will first brief you on “Manatee Manners” to ensure that your experience is safe and stress-free.
Hunter Springs Park
Flaunting a 2019 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, Hunter Springs Park is one of Florida’s most exciting and populated springs. It boasts perfect temperature year-round and opportunities to birdwatch from the boardwalk. Families traveling with kids can park them at the playground if they get bored of kayaking or picnicking.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Made up of 30 different springs, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is one of the largest bodies of water in Florida. Because its headspring flows from three vents, you’ll find a unique mix of freshwater and saltwater creatures going about their daily habits.
On land, you might also see red wolves, alligators, and black bears.
Just an hour from Tampa Bay, Weeki Wachee’s selling point is unusual and amusing: a mermaid show! Weeki Wachee also has water slides and a riverboat cruise, but those looking for something more “natural” can explore the park’s first-magnitude spring with a bottom so deep you can’t see it.
Kayakers and canoers should keep their eyes peeled for alligators, turtles, otters, and the ever-elusive bald eagle.
Tips For Visiting Florida Springs
Now that you know where some of the best springs in Florida are, it’s time to plan your trip. When exploring Florida’s natural wonderlands, you don’t want to be ill-equipped. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
While you can expect common activities like swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or paddle boarding to be available at most springs in Florida, knowing what you want to do can help you narrow down where to go. Start by creating a general list of activities you can integrate into a full itinerary.
Even outside of peak season, many Florida springs fill up quickly. If you want to guarantee a picnic spot or rent a kayak, arrive as early as possible.
Bring Food & Water
Even if there are no picnic tables in the vicinity, you’ll want to bring food and water. Remember, Florida is hot. Just because you’re swimming in cool water doesn’t mean there’s no risk of dehydration. Keep your energy up by packing bottled water and snacks like protein bars, sandwiches, or fruits.
Pack Your Own Equipment
Many Florida springs have rentable equipment, but you may be better off bringing your own, especially if you live nearby. Most of these springs are heavily populated, so expect rentals to run out quickly. In addition, they might cost a pretty penny to rent.
Know What To Do In An Emergency
While most Florida springs are generally safe, accidents are unpredictable, and you don’t want to be unprepared for them. Always pack a small emergency kit containing bandages, antiseptic solution, scissors, and painkillers.
In addition, you should note where the nearest emergency services are and who to call in case of an accident.
The Bottom Line
If you’re scratching your head Googling “Florida springs near me,” we hope this guide has helped you shortlist some of the most stunning natural areas in the state. With over 700 natural springs in and around the gulf, you’ll find no shortage of sights, activities, and memorable experiences to add to your holiday scrapbook. You can expand your list of springs to visit by using this map.
If hiking is more your thing, you will want to check out The Best Hiking Trails of Florida.
**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.