The charming Southern state of Florida boasts an abundance of natural beauty including the best natural freshwater springs . A variety of scenic surroundings cover this coastal region, from enchanting mangroves to tropical beaches. However, one of the best kept secrets in the peninsula are the freshwater florida springs. Florida sits on top of an aquifer, which is a unique geographical attribute.
There are over 700 springs spread all throughout the Sunshine State. They’re marked by clear and warm turquoise waters, lush environments, limestone formations, and local wildlife. Florida’s springs are always a refreshing 70 degrees or warmer even in the winter months. An impressive 800 billion gallons of crystal clear water are said to flow through this underground system of wild waterways that create these amazing freshwater springs.
Any one of these bubbling wonders are a great place to spend the day as they offer a range of activities, from scuba diving or snorkelling through underwater caves, to kayaking leisurely along gentle rivers, to simply swimming and sunning all day long. Florida Springs are like a natural theme park as they offer so many different ways to explore the area including glass-bottom boat tours.
Often overlooked by tourists, visiting the springs is a great way to immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the state while avoiding the bigger crowds of tourists. Deciding on which gorgeous spring to visit can be the hardest part of planning your itinerary as there are so many options, each offering different water activities.
Each natural spring has its own magical allure, and springs are known for being relaxing and having rejuvenating abilities. We have planned out and researched the Best Natural Springs in Florida to visit, making sure you find the ideal place to spend the day!
How many natural springs are there in Florida?
The most recent geological study states that there are 720 natural springs in this state. Many claim that Florida has the largest collection of fresh water springs on the planet. They are technically defined as naturally occurring places where water flows from the underground aquifer to the surface. Natural Springs are a great spot to visit and can be found mostly in the Central and Northern Part of Florida.
Which spring in Florida has the clearest water?
Ginnie Springs is widely renowned for having the clearest waters in the state. This Florida paradise is one of the most beautiful springs as it is actually made up of a group of seven springs. It is a popular destination with any underwater explorers including scuba divers since the visibility tends to be top notch year round.
What is the best spring in Florida?
The best spring in Florida is often considered to be Rainbow Springs. While there’s always room for personal preference, this spring really does have it all. It also has a long history of being locally revered for centuries, once said to even have healing powers. Some popular activities you can enjoy include swimming, tubing. paddling, and snorkeling.
This popular spot even has a picnic areas so you can pack a lunch and enjoy eating nearby the sapphire-blue waters. This Spring is definetly a well known tourist attraction and as such can be busy on weekends and holidays so arrive early as they do have a daily maximum capacity that is enforced.
1. Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park is both one of the oldest and one of the largest natural springs in Florida. It’s popular for swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and tubing down the natural lazy river. Canoes and Kayaks are available to rent so you can explore the vast waterways via paddle too. Local history states that this legendary spot possesses healing powers as humans first visited this spring over 10,000 years ago.
There’s so much to explore here, from botanical gardens to constructed man-made waterfalls. Wander the moss covered Cyprus tree lined paths to immerse yourself in the natural environment. You’re likely to spot several birds species and share a swim with a turtle as you enjoy the spring water.
The main area is the headspring of the river and it offers soft white sands and limestone. The spring is a great time to visit as there is rope swings and docks to enjoy! The best part is that these free-flowing springs stay around 72 degrees regardless of the season.
- Address: 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon
2. Weeki Wachee Spring State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is just as whimsical as you may expect from its name, and maybe even a little more! This ecological wonder is infused with classic Florida character, which always guarantees a good time. First, its home to the famous Buckaneer Bay. Commonly called one of the best water parks in Florida, and it is the only one fed by a first-magnitude spring. Weeki Wachee also claims to be the largest freshwater cave system in all of North America.
One of the old legends here are that the make believe mermaids have iridescent tails and swim effortlessly through the blue and green waters. These real life sirens are a homage to the most original Florida icon, mythical or not. It’s a fun and magical sight for all ages to enjoy.
The park offers both canoe and kayak rentals as it is one of visitor’s favorite ways to really explore the tranquil surroundings. An interesting fact about these springs is that the technical bottom of the springs here has never actually been found making it the deeepest freshwater spring.
- Address: 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee
3. Devils Den
Set in Central Florida, Devils Den is actually an entirely subterranean spring. Devil’s den is a hotspot for any underwater explorers who love to scuba dive or snorkel. It has also been proven to be one of the most prehistoric springs in the state. A charming wooden staircase descends into the cavern and allows swimmers to explore the underwater cave. The entire experience feels like stepping into a whole other world.
The swimming area stays around 72 degrees year round, making it very swimmable. As one of the deeper springs, divers can dive as far down as depths of 54 feet. Most visitors will be able spot plenty of fish and the occasional turtle while diving. If you don’t enjoy swimming you may enjoy some of the beautiful spots to take photographs including the karst window.
Devil’s Den offers accomodations such as on-site cabins or campsites if you plan to stay longer. Be advised, it can reach capacity quite quickly on the weekends over the summer so you want to make reservations ahead of time.
- Address: 5390 NE 180th Ave, Williston
4. Three Sisters Springs
The Three Sisters Springs is found on many bucketlists when visiting Florida. This is one of the best places in Florida to view manatees in their natural environment. An iconic wildlife species among these shores, manatees are also affectionately and aptly called sea cows or gentle marine giants. Mantatees an endangered animal, but the expert guides at Three Sisters Springs can get you up close and personal with these fascinating animals. Summertime is when manatee mating season occurs so they can often be viewed in large groups.
Three Sisters Springs is located close to Tampa, which makes it one of the more convenient springs to visit. It is also accessible via boat from Kings Bay. While visiting, you can rent a canoe, kayak, or snorkelling gear to explore the natural wonders on your own.
The crystalline waters span across 75 feet, as it’s the largest spring in all of Crystal River. You can even opt to stay dry and just wander through the lush wonderland on their extensive boardwalk which offers breathtaking sights.
- Address: 123 NW HWY 19, Crystal River
5. Madison Blue Spring State Park
Located in Northern Florida, Madison Blue Springs State Park has gained a reputation as one of the favorite swimming holes in the whole state. These springs are a remote destination and are a little off the beaten path.
The idyllic tropical landscape makes it an ideal choice for enjoying a refreshing and relaxing dip. Madison Blue Spring is over 80 feet wide and 50 feet deep offering crystal clear water for swimmers. The area is surrounded by majestic hardwood and pines.
A staggering 65 million gallons of water flow down the Withlacoochee River daily. At this first magnitude spring, you can dive down within the self-guided cave system to encounter a diverse array or fish, a few manatees, and many impressive limestone formations. Whether you’re floating down the river in an inner tube or enjoying a leisurely picnic on the shores, a stop here is always a lovely way to spend the day. Madison Blue Spring is the epitome of picturesque.
- Address: 8300 NE State Rd 6, Lee
6. Silver Glen Springs
Silver Springs State Park is a quaint cove surrounded by towering pine and cedar trees. It’s the perfect place in Florida to treat yourself to a sunny day full of swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. It offers a diverse habitat for both freshwater and saltwater fish, along with a few of the famous Florida manatees.
Since it’s part of the Ocala National Forest, all the wildlife here is protected. Many visitors enjoy hiking the short yet scenic Spring Boils Trail that follows alongside the springs and then empty into Lake George at the end. For experienced hikers, the park offers a longer trail to explore and enjoy.
Silver Glen is known as an archeological site. If you look close enough you may be able to spy some fossilized snail shells underneath the canopy of oak rrees. To fully enjoy the whole park, arrive early to ensure entry and enjoy as much time here as you possibly can.
- Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs
7. Gilchrist Blue Springs
Gilchrist Blue Springs is the newest state park in Florida, and it has established a reputation among outdoor enthusiasts. It was founded in 2017 and sits along the Santa Fe River. Over 44 million gallons of freshwater flow through this second magnitude spring daily. It’s conveniently located near Gainesville and Jacksonville which are bigger cities within Florida State.
The biodiversity here is staggeringly beautiful with a wide range of species and ecosystems to spot. You can swim, snorkel, paddle and hike to appreciate the abundance of alluring nature at Gilchrist Blue Springs. As a hidden gem, it’s likely to be less crowded than some of the other springs, plus it’s more affordable than most as well.
- Address: 7450 NE 60th St, High Springs
8. Ginnie Springs
Ginnie Springs is one the prettiest locations in all of Florida and is a natural resource. This spring is set along the Santa Fe River, which boasts the clearest waters in the state. It is made up of seven springs, all offering white sands and limestone caves that feel like a tropical paradise. The magnificent 1000 foot underground passageways are a main highlight here.
Ginnie Springs has campgrounds and picnic shelters decked out with amenities as well, like sports courts and barbecue grills for those interested in a longer visit. Tubing, kayaking, and canoeing are all available to try. Divers and snorkelers will enjoy the three different dive locations: The Ginnie Ballroom, The Devil’s Spring System, and the Santa Fe River. You can save money by bringing your own gear or you can rent individual gear or the entire package if needed. It’s only a few hours from the more bustling hubs of the state, like Orlando and Tallahassee.
- Address: 7300 Ginnie Springs Rd, High Springs
9. Alexander Springs
Alexander Springs is a first magnitude waterway that’s super accessible to explore. The landscape is preserved and protected as part of the Ocala National Forest. The slope to enter the waters is slight, so it’s easy to hop in and swim away. Alexander Springs discharges approximaatly 80 millions gallons of this water each day, this designating it as a first-magnitude spring. The swampy wetlands here are an essential Florida ecosystem and home to an abundance of local wildlife to see.
The spring is popular with families as there are plenty of kid friendly activities around such as tubing or fishing. Thick forests of maple, palms, and sweet gums cover the nature trails along the boardwalk. The Timucuan trail is more challenging and only advised if you are visting with older children who are experienced hikers.
- Address: 49525 CR 445, Altoona
10. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Located just north of Gainesville, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is home to a combination of eight major springs that together form the Ichetucknee river. In some stretches it’s known for having the best natural lazy rivers in the state of Florida. The flow is always gentle and it is approximately six miles long.
For anyone interested in an adventure filled day, there’s plenty of wild wonder to discover while scuba diving and snorkeling here. For a more relaxed and leisurely endeavor, the recreation area offers swimming, tubing, or canoeing. There are several stunning trails to trek, including Blue Hole, Tressle Point, and Pine Ridge. Keep your eyes open for native wildlife like beavers, otters, and wild turkey.
- Address: 12087 Southwest US 27, Fort White
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