19 Incredible Freshwater Springs in Florida
© Walter Weiss / Alamy Stock Photo
Bubbling up from Florida’s limestone surface, the freshwater springs scattered throughout the peninsula promise a temperate climate and opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, manatee spotting and, of course, mesmerizing crystal-clear water. So head on over for a dip in any of these spectacular springs.
Surrounded by a forest of maple trees, Alexander Springs’ natural waters make it ideal for a refreshing soak. Located in Ocala – otherwise known as Florida’s horse country – the area also bears historic importance to one of Florida’s Native American tribes, the Timucua, who settled in the forests surrounding the spring.
Troy Spring State Park
Located on the Suwanee River, Troy Spring is home to the remains of a Civil War-era steamboat, Madison, which was sunk in 1863. The spring makes a popular scuba-diving spot, and the surrounding forested area is full of wildlife such as turkey and deer.
With hundreds of bubbling springs along a seven-mile (11-kilometer) creek, this area is perfect for peaceful canoeing. Juniper Springs boasts a swimming area, nature trails and plenty of shade under luscious oak trees.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs is a local favorite. This scenic spring sparkles in a blue-green hue bordered by lush vegetation and is home to wading birds and turtles. The fourth-largest river also served as an important source for Native Americans, and relics such as stone tools and mammoth fossils have been found here.
Three Sisters Springs
A sanctuary for migrating manatees, the Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River is a refuge for the gentle beasts that congregate here during the winter months. Visitors can view them from the boardwalk, but for swimming, guests must reach the springs via boat or kayak.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Spend the day swimming in the water or explore the 13mi (21km) of nature trails in the area. Set near Orlando, Wekiwa Springs lies in Wekiwa Springs State Park, where visitors can delight in wildlife watching, kayaking and camping.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Settle in for a unique performance of swimming mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs. The state park is a major attraction for families, as audiences can watch a shortened version of The Little Mermaid live from a submerged 400-seat auditorium. The Weeki Wachee mermaids perform several musical numbers and activities underwater, including eating and drinking. The park also provides educative wildlife shows and a riverboat cruise.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
A dip in these springs may not promise immortality, but the area is named after the legendary Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon, who led the expedition to find the fountain of youth. At a constant 68F (20C), the chilly waters provide a refreshing escape from the heat of the Florida summer.
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park
Take a refreshing soak in the cool waters of the Rock Springs Run. The springs are perfect for swimming and tubing lazily along Kelly Park.
Manatee Springs State Park
Manatee Springs is a first magnitude spring that flows into the Suwanee River along western Florida. Swimming is forbidden during the winter months when manatees congregate, but swimmers can dip into the refreshing waters during the summer.
Perched on the south side of the Santa Fe River, Ginnie Springs shines for its clear blue water that draws in scuba divers and snorkelers to explore its limestone bottom and caves. Visitors will spot turtles, wading birds and other wildlife near the area, while the bubbling string of springs along the river is perfect for tubing and kayaking.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
A favorite for tubing, the Ichetucknee Springs flows lazily for miles, offering visitors a tranquil moment in the crystal-clear water that is at a temperature of 72F (22C) year-round. Just get here early as the park often reaches its daily capacity.
Blue Hole Spring
The largest of springs at the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Blue Hole Spring flows from an underwater cavern with a strong current; therefore, only experienced swimmers should venture here. The spring spurs out over 26,000 gallons of water per minute and runs 40 feet (12 meters) deep, which makes it great for scuba diving.
Blue Spring State Park
A designated manatee refuge, Blue Spring is the winter home (from November through March) to a population of West Indian manatees. Though visitors may not swim in the waters during the winter season, there are plenty of opportunities for manatee viewing. Swimmers, snorkelers and certified scuba divers are welcome to swim during the summer months. Fishing and boating are also available along St Johns River.
Silver Springs State Park
You may not be able to swim in this artesian spring, but it’s worth a visit for its epic sunset reflections and natural beauty. Visitors can stroll along the river or enjoy kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding. You can also take a glass-bottom boat ride – perfect for spotting fish, alligators and manatees.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Boasting a depth of 185ft (56m), the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs is one of the deepest and largest freshwater springs in Florida. It pumps about 260 million gallons of water a day and features a network of underwater caves; swimmers have plenty of water to explore. The grand spring is near the Wakulla River, which is home to alligators, turtles and other wildlife.
Located in northern Florida, the Vortex Spring is home to koi fish, eels, and boasts platforms for diving. The spring is a popular site for novice and experienced divers. However, only certified cave divers are allowed through the dangerous sections of its underwater caves, as it has previously resulted in many accidents.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
You may not be able to swim, but there’s plenty of wildlife watching here as the springs are a magnet for manatees and other fish. The forested area surrounding the springs are also home to the bald eagle, the red fox and native Florida species.
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park
Peacock Springs, a trendy site for cave divers, boasts almost 33,000ft (10,058m) of underwater cave systems for certified scuba divers to explore. The state park also has six sinkholes and two springs on-site.