However, Florida is actually home to the greatest number of large springs out of any other state in the country.
If you’re looking for a more nontraditional trip to The Sunshine State and want to relax, swim, and explore a natural spring after a long day in the heat, here is a guide to 15 of the best natural springs near Orlando.
- Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Alexander Springs
- Juniper Springs
- Blue Springs State Park
- Three Sisters Springs
- Ginnie Springs
- Silver Glen Springs
- De Leon Springs State Park
- Gilchrist Blue Springs
- Rainbow Springs State Park
- Salt Springs
- Devil’s Den
- Madison Blue Springs
- Top Tips For Swimming in Natural Springs in Florida
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park is a scenic waterway located in Apopka, FL, around 40 minutes outside of Orlando.
Rock Springs Run offers a free-flowing, clear, shaded spring that stays at a temperature of 68 degrees year-round. The secluded setting makes Rock Springs Run a fantastic option for a day trip to relax, escape the heat, and enjoy all of the activities both Rock Springs Run and Kelly Park have to offer.
With water bubbling up at the spring at a rate of 26,000 gallons/minute, Rock Springs Run makes a great natural lazy river. You can bring your own inner tube or rent from a local business and float through the river and springs, enjoying the scenery and wildlife.
Rock Springs Run also continues outside the boundaries of Kelly Park, so you can launch a Kayak or Canoe from the Camp Joy launch site for an 8.5-mile paddle down the river. Kelly Park itself also offers shaded campgrounds, hiking trails, and more.
Admission to Kelly Park is $3 per vehicle for 1-2 people, $5 per vehicle for 3-8 people, and $1 per additional person.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is one of the most familiar roadside attractions in Florida and has one of the deepest freshwater cave systems in the country. While the park is located in Spring hills, FL, around 2 hours outside of Orlando, Weeki Wachee Springs offers a unique experience for both adults and children.
Weeki Wachee Springs is home to Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark. Families can swim and snorkel in the 72-degree spring water at the waterpark, relax in the lazy river, and enjoy flume and tube rides.
The spring head also supplies water to the 12-mile Weeki Wachee River, where visitors can enjoy boat tours with experienced captains. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard to paddle down the river and enjoy the scenery and may even end up seeing some manatees along the way.
You can find one of the unique features of Weeki Wachee in its submerged 400 seat theater. The world-famous Weeki Wachee mermaids perform classic shows, dances, and feats underwater in this theater, making Weeki Wachee Springs a great family trip for both entertainment and adventure.
Admission is $13 for adults, $8 for children 6-12, and free for anyone under 5.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is located in Apopka, FL, just 20 minutes outside of Orlando. Wekiwa Springs makes a great day trip for families looking to relax and explore, being only a short drive outside of downtown.
The crystal clear spring water is 72 degrees year-round, making it a refreshing escape from the heat. The swimming area is just over a half-acre and only around 4-feet deep, so for families with young kids looking to explore the best natural springs, Wekiwa Springs is a shallow and safe option for snorkeling and swimming.
The springs empty into the 16 mile Wekiva River, where you can rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the river’s gentle current. Along the way, you can explore the ecosystem and enjoy an up-close view of Florida’s greenery and wildlife.
The park also offers excellent opportunities for picnicking, hiking, camping, and horseback riding.
Wekiwa Springs State Park admission is $6 per vehicle, $4 per single-occupant vehicle, and $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, or extra passengers.
Alexander Springs is a clear, natural spring found in the Ocala National Forest in Altoona, Fl. Located a little over an hour outside of Orlando, Alexander Springs is one of Florida’s most accessible natural springs for visitors to experience.
With 72-degree water year-round and 70 million gallons of clear water produced daily, there are plenty of underwater activities for visitors to enjoy in this 300 ft-wide freshwater spring. You can swim, dive, snorkel, and scuba dive if certified.
There is also a launching pad right off of Alexander Springs for Kayaks and Canoes, so you can rent a boat and paddle down Alexander Run into Alexander Springs Wilderness. Along the way, make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife you can enjoy up close, including otters, herons, turtles, deer, and alligators.
Alexander Springs also has plenty of hiking trails, picnic areas, camping sites, and fishing areas for visitors to enjoy, along with an extensive amount of water activities.
Admission for Alexander Springs is $7 per person on weekdays and $10 per person on weekends.
One of the more popular recreation centers in Juniper Springs is also located within the Ocala National Forest in Silver Springs. Juniper Springs is around an hour outside of Orlando and contains hundreds of small, bubbling springs as well as some larger springs bubbling out of crevices.
The natural springs form a warm, 72-degree, 135 foot-long pool where visitors can swim and snorkel in crystal clear water, hike the trails around the springs, or picnic in the surrounding areas. You can also rent canoes or kayaks and paddle down the seven-mile Juniper Run from the Spring.
If you’re interested in spotting Florida wildlife, Juniper Springs is one of the best natural springs to visit. Juniper Springs is home to abundant wildlife populations, including alligators, turtles, deer, bears, turkeys, raccoons, otters, and more.
Another unique feature of Juniper Springs is the millhouse and water wheel. Originally constructed in the 1930s to provide electricity to a campground, the wheel and mill building now offer historical exhibits for visitors to check out.
Admission for Juniper Springs is $7 per person on weekdays and $10 per person on weekends, with a $70 annual day use pass available on-site.
Blue Springs State Park
Blue Springs State Park, home of the largest spring on the St. Johns River, is located in Orange City, FL, just 45 minutes outside Orlando.
The clear blue spring water remains at a consistent 72-degrees throughout the year, and visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving (if certified) in the spring water.
You can also rent tubes through a nearby business for a relaxing, peaceful experience. You can use inner tubes from the spring boil to gently float the ⅛ mile run back to the main swim area.
Visitors can also participate in narrated nature and ecological boat tours, rent kayaks and canoes to experience Blue Spring Run, and make use of the many campsites and hiking trails in the state park.
Blue Springs State Park is another excellent option if you’re looking for a trip surrounded by wildlife, particularly manatees. The warm temperature of the springs creates a safe environment for manatees in colder seasons, so Blue Springs serves as a designated refuge for manatees. From the boardwalk and various trails throughout the park, visitors can observe manatees through the clear water and experience these animals in their natural habitat.
Blue Springs State Park charges $6 per vehicle (2-8 people). A single-occupant vehicle will pay $4 for entry, while pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers pay $2.
Three Sisters Springs
Three Sisters Springs are a Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge unit in Crystal River, located around an hour-and-a-half from Orlando.
The Three Sisters Springs is made up of three spring areas that are only accessible through the Three Sisters spring run, which visitors must navigate with a boat to reach the in-water recreation area of the springs. Once you arrive, you can swim, snorkel, or paddle in the spring water.
While less accessible for underwater activities than other springs in the area, the 72-degree water allows Three Sisters Spring to be another critical habitat and refuge for manatees in Florida. Visitors can observe an abundance of manatees and other wildlife from a boardwalk circling the complex, and the clear water makes Three Sisters Spring an excellent place for manatee viewing.
In the summer, general admission is $12.50 for adults, $7.50 for children, and free for children five and younger. During the winter season, admission is $20 for adults, $7.50 for children, and free for children under 5.
Ginnie Springs is located a little over two hours from Orlando in High Springs, FL.
The Spring is large, clear, and pumps out 80 million gallons of water a day, so there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to explore the spring, participate in water activities, and relax and enjoy the beautiful water.
With Ginnie Springs remaining at 72 degrees year-round, there are extensive activities to enjoy in the water and outdoors. You can swim or snorkel, rent a tube to float down the Santa Fe River, or rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard for a scenic trip down the river.
There are also a significant number of dive sites where certified divers can explore caverns or caves with exceptional views and clear visibility of wildlife.
General admission is $15 for adults during the off-season, $20 for adults in-season, $5 for children 5-12, and free for children under 4.
Silver Glen Springs
Silver Glen Springs is located a little over an hour from Orlando and can be found in the Ocala National Forest in Silver Springs, FL.
Many residents claim that Silver Glen Springs has the most transparent water of all springs in Northwest Florida, so for visitors looking for scenic views and a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the water, Silver Glen Springs is a great option.
Silver Glen Springs is larger than other springs in the area and remains at a consistent 72 degrees. This makes it a popular site for visitors to swim, observe fish and other marine life in the clear water, snorkel, canoe, kayak, or enjoy the surrounding trails and picnic areas. In cooler months, it’s also possible to spot manatees looking for warmth in the springs.
For day use, Silver Glen Springs charges an admission fee` of $6 per person.
De Leon Springs State Park
De Leon Springs State Park is located an hour from Orlando in Ponce De Leon, FL. and offers visitors a beautiful spring and a long, rich history.
The main spring is made up of two underground water flows and stays at 68 degrees year-round. As it is cooler than many other natural springs, De Leon Springs is a great place to explore if you’re looking to escape the Florida heat. Visitors can enjoy a range of water activities, including swimming, snorkeling, Scuba diving (if certified), and fishing.
You can canoe or kayak down the 10-mile Spring Garden Run, which begins at the park and eventually connects with the St. Johns River. Or, if you’re looking to learn more about the park’s history and wildlife, you can sign up for an eco/history boat tour of the run.
When visitors aren’t enjoying the water or grabbing food at the historical sugar mill restaurant, there are plenty of nature trails, bike trails, and paved walking paths for visitors to use.
Admission for De Leon Springs State Park is $6 per vehicle (2-8 people), $4 per vehicle (1 person) and motorcycles, and $2 per person for pedestrians, bicyclists, or additional passengers.
Gilchrist Blue Springs
Gilchrist Blue Springs is located in High Springs, Fl., just under two hours from Orlando. It is the main natural spring at Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, a recent addition to Florida state parks.
While other smaller springs in the park are available for viewing only, Gilchrist Blue Springs is open for a variety of underwater activities. Park visitors can swim, snorkel, rent kayaks or canoes on-site, and paddle through the spring head and spring run.
The spring is a constant 72 degrees and produces clear water, making Gilchrist Blue Springs an excellent place to view the park’s diverse wildlife species. Visitors can often see turtles, fish, and invertebrates throughout the springs from the water, boats, or the elevated boardwalk. You can also explore these ecological habitats from the variety of hiking and nature trails.
Gilchrist Blue Springs charges an admission price of $6 per vehicle (2-8 people), $4 for a single-occupant vehicle, and $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, or extra passengers.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park, located in Dunnellon, FL., an hour-and-a-half from Orlando, is one of Florida’s largest springs and offers a rich history, dating back over 10,000 years.
Rainbow Springs is relatively deep, with an average depth in the swimming area running from 10-18 feet and an average temperature of 72 degrees. It’s a popular area for a range of water activities, and visitors can swim, kayak or canoe, and snorkel within designated park areas. Camping is also popular among visitors at Rainbow Springs State Park, and campsites are located along the Rainbow River.
Tubing is also available but is not permitted in the spring head. From a different launch point, visitors can relax and take a peaceful float down the river. There are also plenty of hiking trails to explore the park’s natural areas and discover beautiful gardens and waterfalls. From both the water and trails, visitors are able to observe a diverse group of wildlife in their natural habitat.
Access to headsprings is $2 per person, and children under six are admitted for free.
Salt Springs is located in the northern section of Ocala National Forest, around an hour-and-a-half drive away from Orlando.
Salt Springs earned its name from the presence of natural magnesium and potassium salts that are found within the water. This gives the spring a slight salinity, allowing some saltwater species such as crabs to comfortably live in Salt Springs’ 72-74 degree water.
The spring has shallow and deeper sections, making it an excellent trip for families with young children who can safely swim in the shallower areas. A boat launch into Salt Springs Run also makes this a popular spot for canoes, kayaks, and paddlers.
Outside the swimming area and springs, visitors can fish, camp, and enjoy numerous hiking trails.
Salt Springs has an admission fee of $6.50 per person.
Devil’s Den is a prehistoric natural spring located in Williston, about an hour and 40 minutes from Orlando.
Devil’s Den is an underground cave spring with water 72 degrees year-round and a maximum depth of 54 feet. With this depth, visitors also have the opportunity to explore the cave in crystal clear water and discover antique rock formations, fossils, marine wildlife, and more.
Devil’s Den is extremely popular among snorkelers and scuba divers, and visitors can rent snorkel equipment to explore the shallower sections of the cave.
Certified scuba divers can go even deeper into the Devil’s Den prehistoric spring with a diving buddy and explore the cave and its many waterways. Devil’s Den offers a unique diving experience with beautiful underwater scenery and the opportunity to observe wildlife and antique formations and fossils.
Madison Blue Springs
Madison Blue Springs is a relatively far trip from Orlando compared to other natural springs- just under 3 hours by car – but the picturesque, crystal clear 72-degree water and scenic woodlands make it a popular option for swimming and cave diving.
Rated the #1 best swimming hole in the country in 2015, Madison Blue Springs offers visitors a beautiful place to swim, snorkel, hike, or paddle.
Certified cave divers can also explore the 26,000 feet of mapped passageways in clear blue water.
Admission is $4-$5 per vehicle and $2 for pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers.
Top Tips For Swimming in Natural Springs in Florida
Swimming in some of the best natural springs in Florida is a great way to cool off, relax, explore the outdoors, and spend time with family.
However, before swimming in these springs, it’s essential to pay attention to any information about park policies and rules about swimming.
Here are some of the top tips for swimming in Florida’s natural springs and making the most out of your experience:
Come Prepared with Equipment
At most natural springs and state parks, you can rent equipment such as kayaks, canoes, tubes, or snorkeling or scuba gear.
However, these rentals can be pricey, especially along with the required admissions fees.
Before heading out to swim, think about what activities you may want to participate in. If you have the required gear, you can come prepared and save yourself the rental cost and lines during busy days. This often includes inner tubes, paddle boats, and snorkel equipment.
If you’re planning on scuba diving, make sure to bring a wetsuit. 68-72 degrees can start to feel cold very quickly, so be sure to have the proper equipment and certifications.
Steer Clear of Wildlife and Vegetation
When natural spring water is so clear that you can see the vegetation and marine life at the bottom, it can be tempting to explore while snorkeling. While observing the fish, turtle, and scenery is safe and exciting, getting too close to the bottom of the spring or interfering with wildlife in their natural habitat will disrupt the ecosystem and wildlife.
Many natural springs provide a haven to wildlife such as manatees. There are often ways to observe them, but be careful about which areas are designated to swim in to avoid causing harm to any species.
Be Aware of Park Policy
Parks will often have designated areas for swimming, boating, fishing, diving, or other activities. Before getting in the water, double-check the policies to ensure any area of the springs you’re in is safe for swimming or other underwater activities.
There are also plenty of springs that are shallow and more family-friendly. If you’re visiting natural springs with children, it’s essential to look into the safety of the swim area for younger kids before arriving.
If you follow park policy and keep these tips in mind, your experience at any natural springs near Orlando will be safe, relaxing, and fun.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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