You’ve braved the beaches, you’re tired of crowded theme parks, but have you taken the time to explore the best springs in Florida?
Thanks to the Sunshine State’s natural underground aquifer, about 800 billion gallons of water flow through limestone to bubble up to form more than 700 of the natural springs in Florida every single day. That’s the largest collection anywhere on earth!
The water’s temperature never goes above a crisp, refreshing 72 degrees, and through that crystal clear water, you can see entire ecosystems thriving: aquatic plants, gorgeous rock formations, and wildlife like manatees and turtles. Your first visit to one of these natural springs in Florida will make you understand why Ponce De Leon thought these waters contained rejuvenating properties.
While we can’t promise you a dip in one of these natural Florida springs will make you look younger, you won’t need a literal Fountain of Youth to feel refreshed after enjoying the recreation they have to offer: tubing, diving, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, photography, and even glass-bottom boat tours.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the sights and activities in Florida and don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve mapped out the prettiest, best springs in Florida so all you have to do is suit up, get in the car, and jump in!
In the midst of COVID-19, we highly recommend checking the updated operations of each location, as some of these natural Florida springs require reservations and have limited hours. Some services may be suspended or restricted to smaller groups. Be prepared and stay safe!
Listed below are our picks for the prettiest springs in Florida. We recommend visiting any and all that you can so you can beat that Florida heat, reconnect with yourself and nature, and soak up all that these hidden gems have to offer.
12 Prettiest Springs In Florida
Located just north of Ocala in Central Florida, Devil’s Den is actually underground. The most prehistoric of Florida springs, this hidden gem is a perfect spot for divers and snorkelers alike.
Visitors walk down a wooden staircase into a cavern that appears to open up into another ethereal world. Divers can descend up to 54 feet in the springs (120 feet in diameter) to look through the clear, aqua water which is always 72 degrees, making it one of the best springs in Florida.
The grounds of Devil’s Den also boasts cabins and RV parking with a heated swimming pool, charcoal grills and picnic tables, nature trails, and pavilions with lawn games for the whole family to enjoy! Offering something for everyone in the family, Devil’s Den is truly one of Florida’s prettiest and mysterious springs.
Just about 90 minutes north of Tampa Bay, Crystal River is actually a large network of about 40 natural springs, originating in King’s Bay before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Only accessible by boat access, Crystal River has earned its nickname as a “water lover’s paradise” with a multitude of activities and wildlife to see.
You could visit Kings Spring, which is 75 feet across and at its deepest point, 30 feet, where an underwater cave awaits adventurous divers. Or you could go to Three Sisters Spring, where you can swim with manatees that congregate in the winter months in the cool water.
Even if you don’t want to dip your toes in the water, there are wildlife tours on a trolley, boardwalks, lots of dining, and wooded parks with kayak launches! A haven for snorkelers, swimmers, and divers, the area has been preserved by hard-working locals who recognize the true wonder of this group of natural Florida springs.
Rainbow River/Rainbow Springs
With such an enchanting name, it’s no surprise that Rainbow River is home to one of the best springs in Florida with a variety of natural wonders. Its history spans back centuries when native Floridians regularly visited these sapphire waters, believed to have magical healing powers.
Whether you choose to believe that or not, you undoubtedly will bask in the natural Florida spring’s beauty with endless experiences and amenities. At the headspring of the river is a gigantic swimming area with white sand and limestone underneath your toes. Nature trails are surrounded by man-made waterfalls and natural gardens, a popular destination for Florida Birders.
Campgrounds along the river have kayaks and canoes for rent, so you can see the tall oaks that line the riverbanks. Areas of the river are dedicated to tubing down this natural “lazy” river. Jump off of docks or swing off of ropes tied to tree limbs. You will share the water with turtles, basking in the sun on logs while heron and blue ibis flutter by.
The combination of activities, nature, and wildlife make Rainbow River one of the most beloved and beautiful Florida natural springs.
Along the Santa Fe River lies a true slice of pure Florida. Ginnie Springs boasts some of the clearest waters of all the natural springs in Florida. Made up of a group of seven springs, white sand and limestone wind into paths that open into caves, making Ginnie Springs a must for any serious cave divers or snorkelers.
Visitors can enjoy tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming in addition to campgrounds with picnic tables, grills, and volleyball courts! If you want to stay longer, there is a rental cottage available to make the most of your time in one of the best springs in Florida.
If you decide to snorkel or paddleboat down the Florida springs, the clear water may reward you with a view of bass, catfish, mullet and if you’re lucky: turtles.
Have you ever thought that while, yes, the natural springs in Florida are beautiful, but they don’t have enough whimsy? Well then, you are in luck, because next up on our list, at Weeki Wachee Springs, you can meet a real, live mermaid!
Okay, mermaids are make-believe, but the swimmers that don the incandescent fins only add to the beauty of paradise, paying homage to the yesteryear of Florida tourism. As if this wasn’t family-friendly enough, Weeki Wachee is also home to Buccaneer Bay, the only water park fed by a first-magnitude spring.
While swimmers can bask in the beautiful blues and greens of the Florida natural springs, divers can explore the freshwater cave system, confirmed in 2007 to be the deepest in all of North America.
In addition to the perfect day trip, the natural beauty of Weeki Wachee makes a beautiful backdrop for events hosted within the state park, such as weddings and family gatherings, with a range of indoor and outdoor pavillions.
North of Gainesville, eight major crystalline springs unite to form the Ichetucknee River, one of the best springs in Florida.
If you want a relaxing day, you can canoe, kayak, or go tubing in the upper region of the area of the state park, where the pristine waters will gently carry you down the Ichetucknee River. Scuba divers and snorkelers can find a bit more adventure through the waterways.
Hikers can choose one of three hiking trails, with entrances at the north of the river: the tame Blue Hole trail that leads to the Blue Hole Spring, the largest in the park, the intermediate Tressle Point trail, a self-guiding trail that looks on areas where in the past phosphate ore was mined, and the longer Pine Ridge trail, traversing through majestic sandhills and underneath the longleaf pines.
Gilchrist Blue Springs
Florida’s newest state park, Gilchrist Blue pours out 44 million gallons of fresh water out of its second magnitude spring before flowing out in a shallow spring close to the Santa Fe River. The waters, lying along floodplains in the area, boosts and supports a wide variety of ecological habitats.
If you drive about 25 miles south of Lake City, you can swim in the clear waters along with a wide variety of native fish, turtles, and invertebrates that call this set of natural springs in Florida home.
Patrons can participate in snorkeling, swimming, and paddling at the main springhead and on the spring run. Gilchrist Blue Springs also has a series of hiking trails popular for Geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt game where players find caches hidden in nature using coordinates and global positioning systems (GPS) devices.
It is recommended that visitors arrive early in the morning, as capacity is limited, and you will be turned away!
With so much to offer and so much wildlife to see, it’s no wonder that Gilchrist Blue is one of the best springs in Florida, one of the greatest hidden Florida gems rightly deserving of its new state park status.
Madison Blue Springs
Voted the #1 swimming hole in the country by USA Today, Madison Blue Springs is revered as one of the best springs in Florida.
Around 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the inviting, crystal clear springs are surrounded by lush scenery made up of hardwoods and pines, making for a perfect day trip for Florida families and explorers alike.
Rent a canoe and marvel at the manatees in the river that are known to swim right underneath you. Take a trip off the beaten path and discover and dive into a vast, self-guided cave system to jolt your adrenaline. Float down the river in an inner tube and you’ll drift to a small beach with picnic tables for a quick lunch.
In scenic Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is tucked away in a subtropical area of palm and oak treas before winding and emptying into Lake George in the Saint Johns River. In use since the 1930s, a group of conservationists built a mill that provides electricity to the adjacent campgrounds and picnic areas.
The main springhead is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, paddling, bird watching, and picnicking. Hikers can easily spend all day traversing the statewide Florida trail that winds through the area, with information about the sub-tropical foliage.
The seven-mile Juniper Springs run is considered to be one of the most beautiful and scenic routes for kayakers in the entire state of Florida. Dappled sunlight peeks in through the towering oaks, while otters play and alligators drift along in the shallow waters. There is even a haul-back service offered for your canoes and kayaks if you want to experience it all over again–without the hassle.
Considering the historic campgrounds and RV parking among the amenities available, it’s easy to turn a lazy day at one of the best springs in Florida into a relaxing evening for the entire family in the heart of nature.
Silver Glen Springs
Pine, oak, and cedar trees surround the quaint, aquamarine waters of Silver Glen Springs, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. A variety of freshwater and saltwater fish call this spring home, along with manatees seeking solace from the cold, winter waters of the Saint Johns River.
Hikers traversing the Spring Boils trail will be able to spy many smaller springs bubbling up and feeding into the streams that empty into Lake George. Fishing, with a suitable freshwater license, of course, is permitted downstream of the swimming hole area.
Also located in Ocala National Forest, this beautiful Florida spring is also a notable archeological site! Those with a keen eye will be able to spot a variety of fossilised snail shells embedded in the middens along the shores.
Visitors are encouraged to arrive early in the day, as capacity is limited!
This first magnitude spring is considered by many to be one of the easiest and most accessible for visitors to explore and enjoy, especially for younger and older explorers. A gradient slow, slope eases swimmers and divers into the cooling, crystalline waters. A smooth, limestone floor releases tiny bubbles up around snorkelers.
Popular with families, activities include but are not limited to biking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Alexander Springs was notably once home to the indigenous Timucuan people, who thrived in the forests of maples, sweetgum, and cabbage palms. Nature tails harbor educational signage, identifying vegetation that the Timucua would use in their diets. Since the Timacuans were known to revere and even repent for their use of the plant life, we urge you to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but memories.
Rock Springs Kelly Park
The free-flowing springs at Rock Springs at Kelly Park are a bit cooler than its counterparts, usually topping out at a chilly 68 degrees, making this destination perfect for the hottest of Florida summers.
Kelly Park, located in the middle of Apopka, Florida, tubers can rejoice while floating through mangroves, and looking at the fish and turtles sharing the water with them. You can also take a canoe or a glass-bottom boat down the river until it opens up into an open swimming area.
Campers can also enjoy the grounds with lots of RV parking, pavilions, and nature trails. This is one of the best springs in Florida for quiet picnics with the family or a loved one!
READ NEXT: Tips For Rock Springs At Kelly Park
Florida Springs Map
No matter what time of year you are planning to hit the road and encounter some of the best springs in Florida, there will be something special to encounter.
This map of the best Florida Springs will help you visualize where they are around the state. Some are really close to each other and others are a bit of a drive!
This Florida springs map will allow you to easily navigate and plan your trip.
You can cool down and dive in during the hottest summer days, or canoe with the gentle manatees in the winter. What will always endure is the unique and peaceful adventure you cherish in the most beautiful nature Florida has to offer.
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