When most people think of Florida, they think of retired folks, theme parks, and beaches. While we have plenty of all three of those, you might be surprised to know that Florida has hundreds of natural springs. In fact, the state of Florida has the largest collection of freshwater springs in the United States.
What are Natural Springs?
Natural Springs are cracks in the Earth where underground spring water flows from the Floridian aquifer to the surface. Most springs in Florida are around 72 degrees fahrenheit year round. This means, in the summer, they are a refreshing way to cool off from the heat and humidity, but in the winter, the springs are warm enough to take a dip!
13 Natural Springs in Florida You Can’t Miss
Let’s dive into some of our favorite natural springs in Florida – along with a little bit about what makes each of them so special.
Weeki Wachee Springs, Spring Hill, Florida
Home to the original mermaid show, Weeki Wachee Springs features a small water theme park complete with slides that splash right into the headspring. If water slides aren’t your thing, take your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard down the 7 mile Weeki Wachee River for a crystal clear water view of fish, manatees, alligators, and birds as you sightsee through the stunning landscape.
Need to Know: Kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals are available through the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. However, if you rent through them, you’ll only get to experience the first two miles of the river. Instead, opt for a private rental like The Kayak Shack located beside Rogers Park.
Address: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, Florida 34606
Blue Springs, Orange City, Florida
Blue Springs (in Orange City – not to be confused with other Blue Springs in Florida!) has two different personas. In the spring and summer, it’s a hot spot for tubing down the spring run. Locals and visitors alike hit the boardwalk, drop their inflatable tube in the water, and float the current down to the dock. However, in the winter, Blue Springs is closed to swimmers and tubers so that the winter manatee population isn’t disturbed. You can catch a glimpse of these slow moving, prehistoric animals from the boardwalks.
Fun Fact: Sea World Orlando’s Rescue division often releases rehabbed manatees into Blue Springs. Watch for tagged manatees in the spring run.
Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, Florida 32763
Silver Glen Springs, Fort McCoy, Florida
Looking for a sandy bottom, clear water, and more fish than you can count? Take a trip to Silver Glen Springs in Ocala National Forest. The blue tinted water will have you thinking you are somewhere floating in the Caribbean Sea! During the summer months, watch out for striped bass as they return to the spring to spawn.
Don’t Miss: Be sure to not pass up the short hiking nature trail located near the spring. It’s about 1/4 of a mile long and leads to a boardwalk filled with sand boils.
Address: 5271 N Highway 19, Fort McCoy, Florida 32134
Silver Springs, Ocala, Florida
Love seeing where movies were filmed? Make it a point to head to Silver Springs! Creature of the Black Lagoon, Tarzan the Ape Man, and Thunderball are among many of the location’s film credits. As one of Florida’s original roadside attractions, Silver Springs has a little bit of everything: a cafe, wedding venue, picnic tables, boardwalks, and wild monkeys! No, you didn’t read that wrong. Silver Springs is home to wild monkeys that were previously introduced in the park when it was a roadside attraction. Now, visitors with a keen eye can spot them up and down the river.
Don’t miss: Don’t forget to get tickets on the glass bottom boat ride for a narrated tour of the many spring vents.
Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, Florida 34488
Alexander Springs, Altoona, Florida
Visiting the Disney, Universal, or Sea World theme parks on your trip to Florida? Alexander Springs is about an hour from the parks, and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the family. With plenty of picnic tables, a shallow swim area for the little ones, and a spring vent where you can watch scuba divers emerge from exploring the shallow caves – Alexander Springs rounds out our favorite spring for family time in the Central Florida area.
Don’t miss: There are small swim paths through the aquatic plants near the middle of the spring’s swimming area. If you swim through slowly, you might catch a glimpse of a baby turtle or juvenile fish that like to hide in there.
Address: 49525 County Rd 445. Altoona, FL 32702
Homosassa Springs, Homosassa, Florida
Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is home to many injured animals that can no longer survive in the wild. Among the species, you’ll see Florida panthers, owls, a hippo, manatees, black bears, snakes, alligators, and more. The solid boardwalk allows wheelchairs and strollers to easily get close to each animal. When you’ve visited the animals, head to the fishbowl. In this underground fish tank, you can get face to face with thousands – (no exaggeration!) – of fish in the headspring.
Need to Know: While you can admire the wildlife and fish from several viewing areas, you cannot enter the water in Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.
Address: 9350 W Fishbowl Dr, Homosassa, Florida 34448
3 Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida
Looking for the ultimate place to swim with manatees while in Florida? Head over to Crystal River and check out 3 Sisters Springs. In the winter months, hundreds of manatees call this small area home.
Need to Know: Visiting 3 Sisters Springs can be kind of tricky. If you want to see the manatees from land, you’ll want to head to the Crystal River National Wildlife Reserve and visit the boardwalks. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to see manatees from above in the winter – but you won’t be able to enter the water. To swim with the manatees, you’ll need to arrive by water – either in your own kayak, canoe, or boat – or take a manatee tour with an operator. Our vote goes to the crew at Plantation Adventure Center and Manatee Tours.
Address: 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, Florida 34429
Ichetucknee Springs, Fort White, Florida
Looking to cool off on a hot summer day? Locals and visitors alike spend hot Florida afternoons tubing down the Ichetucknee Springs. Love to snorkel? Don’t miss Blue Hole, one of the springs that feeds the Ichetucknee River. Casual snorkelers can take in the views of this unique underwater world, while experienced cave and cavern certified can explore the hundreds of feet of narrow passages and caves.
Fun Fact: The water at Ichetucknee Springs is a beautiful turquoise color.
Address: 12087 SW US Highway 27, Fort White, Florida 32038
Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon, Florida
Rainbow Springs is the start of the Rainbow River, a 6 mile spring fed river boasting sea grass beds full of fish, river otters, and turtles. You can start your journey in the headspring swimming area, then rent a kayak, a canoe, or a tube and lazily take the current down the river.
After you dry off, head to the waterfall trail and check out what is left from Rainbow Spring’s time as a Florida roadside attraction.
Need to Know: If you plan to kayak or canoe Rainbow Springs with your own vessel, head over to the local county park KP Hole. This nearby park allows you to easily drop into the Rainbow River. You can then head upstream to check out the headspring before you float down the river.
Address: Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, Florida 34432
Juniper Springs & Fern Hammock Springs
Juniper Springs in the Ocala National Forest is best known for the award winning kayak and canoe trail. This seven mile meandering paddle takes you through a windy, shallow creek, a small set of rapids, and a nice wide float in the creek. This paddle is best suited for experienced boaters that are comfortable portaging over downed trees – as Juniper Springs is left in a natural state.
After you tackle Juniper Springs, head to nearby Fern Hammock Springs for a glimpse of an ecologically sensitive, protected spring. While you can’t enter the spring, you can picnic or daydream on the banks.
Need to Know: If you plan to kayak or canoe Juniper Springs, you’ll need to use the shuttle service or a prearranged ride back to your car, as it is a one way adventure.
Address: 26701 Highway 40, Silver Springs, Florida 34488
Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring, Williston, Florida
One of the most unique springs on the list, Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is an underground spring formed when a riverbed collapsed. Now, visitors can snorkel or scuba dive in the water filled hole to view a handful of fish, the resident turtle, or fossils embedded in the rocks.
Need to Know: As a privately owned spring, visitors must be snorkeling or scuba diving to descend the stairs into Devil’s Den. Unfortunately, children under 6 cannot enter the spring.
Address: 5390 NE 180th Ave Williston, Florida 32696
7 Sisters Springs, Homosassa, Florida
Looking for a quiet spring to explore from the water? You can’t go wrong with 7 Sisters Springs. This spring can be accessed only from the water, but features numerous holes in the limestone that you can look into and view the underwater world.
While 7 Sisters Springs won’t fill your entire day, head down the Chassahowitkza River and explore a number of other springs including Crab Creek Springs, The Crack, and more. The Chassahowitzka River leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. Keep your eyes peeled for juvenile bull sharks, dolphins, fresh and saltwater fish, and manatees.
Need to Know: The best place to launch into the 7 Sisters Springs is the Chassahowitzka River Campground. You can use their parking lot for a small fee if you are not staying on the grounds.
Address: 8600 W Miss Maggie Dr, Homosassa, Florida 34448
Salt Springs, Fort McCoy, Florida
Located in the Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs is a rocky bottomed, freshwater spring with a higher mineral content than other nearby Florida springs. Swimmers and snorkelers can view the spring vents and see plenty of fish and blue crabs darting from in and out of the limestone.
Watch out for the occasional Atlantic Stingray to swim by, a small group of stingrays has adapted to the spring and nearby St. Johns River – spending their entire lives in the ecosystem.
Need to Know: Looking to launch a boat at Salt Springs? Visit the Salt Springs Marina next door to the Salt Springs Recreation Area. From there, you can launch and head down the spring run to Florida’s second largest lake – Lake George.
Address: 13851 Highway 19, Fort McCoy, Florida 32134
Be Prepared: Get There Early!
Before you set off for your Florida spring adventure, we want to leave you with a few tips:
- Florida springs get incredibly crowded with visitors and locals trying to beat the summer heat. Plan to arrive at least an hour before opening time during the summer months and holiday weekends.
- Have a backup plan in case you cannot get into a spring.
- Campsites at the Florida springs fill up fast – as early as one year out. Start planning your trip early!