19 Incredible Freshwater Springs in Florida

© Walter Weiss / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Karina Castrillo
21 December 2017

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.

Rainbow Springs State Park

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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.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

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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

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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

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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.

Ginnie Springs

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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.

Blue Spring State Park

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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

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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

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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.

Vortex Spring

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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.