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14 Best Springs in Florida

Written by Shandley McMurray
Sep 23, 2020

Florida is known for its areas of natural beauty (think: mangrove forests, the Everglades, and miles of sandy beaches). Hugged by the Atlantic Ocean, Straits of Florida, and Gulf of Mexico, the azure waters that crash the Sunshine State’s coast attract swimmers, surfers, and scuba divers from around the world. Even more remarkable, though, are Florida’s freshwater springs.

Nearly 700 natural springs pepper this lush East Coast peninsula, offering the most magnificent and unforgettable views. Crystalline turquoise water bubbles up from the limestone bottom, welcoming visitors to its tranquil habitat, which is home to incredible wildlife (we see you, manatees). The majority of the springs remain at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, making swimming a fun and refreshing activity.

Many of Florida's top springs feature winding systems of underwater caves popular with snorkelers and scuba divers. Others offer kayak and canoe rentals for visitors to better enjoy the vast expanses that feed into nearby rivers.

Deciding which freshwater spring to visit first can be challenging — they’re all breathtakingly gorgeous. Narrow down your starting point with this list of the best Florida springs.

1. Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River

Snorkelers photographing a manatee in Three Sisters Springs

Talk about crystal clear. Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River has water so clean, you can see straight through it. Time your visit right, and you’ll spot one (or more) of the state’s most prized inhabitants: manatees. Just an FYI, they’re more prevalent during the cooler winter months.

In order to protect these and other species, no motorized vessels are allowed inside the park, and you can’t access the springs by land, either. The only way to enjoy this pristine wonderland is by kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. Insider’s tip: For in-water access to the springs, head to nearby Hunter Springs Park or Kings Bay Park to launch your kayak or canoe.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the springs without getting wet, walk along the boardwalk at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, which offers 57 acres of wetlands to explore.

Address: 123 NW HWY 19, Crystal River, Florida

Official site: https://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org/sisters

2. Madison Blue Spring State Park, Lee

Madison Blue Spring State Park

Located about 10 miles east of Madison and nearly 70 miles east of Tallahassee, this captivatingly clear freshwater spring ends along the western bank of the WithlacoochieRiver.

A popular swimming hole, the spring is 25 feet deep and nearly 82 feet wide. It’s surrounded by verdant forest lined with walking trails. Hop on a raft to enjoy a float, or paddle your canoe along the spring’s 150-foot run. While you can’t rent a canoe on-site, many local retailers will allow you to hire one.

Like Three Sisters Springs, the water here is crystal clear, making it an optimal spot to swim, snorkel, or scuba dive. Catfish, turtles, and sunfish are just a few of the aquatic creatures who might greet you. If you’re an experienced diver, head to the underwater caves where you’ll see even more amazing aquatic life up close.

Address: 8300 NE State Road 6, Lee, Florida

Official site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/madison-blue-spring-state-park

3. Ginnie Springs, High Springs

Diver in Ginnie Springs

Ginnie Springs is one of the best places to visit in Florida. Linked to multiple springs that are tied together by the Santa Fe River, this expansive property serves up a plate overflowing with fun. The main attraction is hard to beat. Phenomenally clear turquoise water beckons every visitor to at least dip in a toe.

A base made up of sandy limestone helps add to the spring’s allure, reflecting the sun’s rays and enhancing the vibrant blue hues. It’s so pretty here, you’ll swear you’ve entered a magical world. Tall trees canopy over parts of the lagoon, creating a natural tunnel to guide visitors along the length of the spring. Snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are popular things to do. It’s easy to rent equipment for each of these sports on-site.

Another favorite pastime at Ginnie Springs is rafting. Load on the sunblock and hop on an inflatable (tube-shaped or otherwise) to lazily drift along.

Insider’s tip: The fun at Ginnie Springs extends beyond its luxuriously clear water. It also boasts volleyball courts, a playground, picnic areas (complete with grills), and campsites.

Address: 7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, Florida

Official site: https://ginniespringsoutdoors.com/

4. Homosassa Springs, Homosassa

Colorful pool at Homosassa Springs

Almost 30 springs make up the Homosassa Springs in Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. They’ve been deemed one of the largest springs in the state. This first magnitude spring (i.e. one that discharges 100 cubic feet or more of water per second) feeds the Homosassa River. Given its size, and the fact that the main headspring flows from three vents containing varying degrees of salt, you’ll find both salt and freshwater creatures here.

One of the most famed visitors is the West Indian manatee. Loving the spring’s warm water, these Florida sea cows flock here during the winter. The best way to see them up close is by entering the Underwater Observatory. The best part? It’s an enclosed venue, so you won’t get wet.

On land, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, including red wolves, black bears, alligators, and the Florida panther. The huge resident hippo is unmissable.

Insider’s tip: These springs are located about 86 miles northwest of Orlando, making it a great day trip destination.

Address: 4150 S Suncoast Blvd, Homosassa, Florida

Official site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/ellie-schiller-homosassa-springs-wildlife-state-park

5. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee Springs

To some, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park can feel a bit kitschy. Located about an hour north of Tampa, its most famous attraction is a mermaid show, followed by waterslides at Buccaneer Bay and a riverboat cruise. But don’t let that throw you. The park is also home to Weeki Wachee Springs, a first magnitude spring with a bottom so deep, it has yet to be found.

While you can kayak or canoe here, swimming is only permitted at Buccaneer Bay. It’s from here that the spring joins the Weeki Wachee River on its more than seven-mile trip to the Gulf of Mexico. There are few better places to kayak than this glittering and translucent waterway. Look closely and you might spot an alligator, bad eagle, turtle, or otter.

Address: 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, Florida

Official site: https://weekiwachee.com/

6. Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon

Colorful Rainbow Springs

It’s easy to understand the hype around Rainbow Springs. One of the oldest (it dates back 10,000 years) and largest springs in the state, this transparent waterway is breathtakingly gorgeous. The springs, which feed the Rainbow River, sit at a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and are between five and 18 feet deep.

They lie in Rainbow Springs State Park, just over 20 miles southwest of Ocala and almost 90 miles northwest of Orlando — the perfect spot for a day trip.

During the spring, Rainbow Springs turns into a floral nirvana, its edges bursting with colorful azalea blooms. Waterfalls lie in wait for sharp-eyed visitors, and a bevy of fish reward snorkelers with their underwater shows. Other popular things to do here include tubing, scuba diving, and camping.

Address: 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, Florida

Official site: https://visitrainbowsprings.com/

7. Ichetucknee Springs, Fort White

Kayaker enjoying Ichetucknee Springs

Nine gleamingly lucent springs feed the Ichetucknee River in Ichetucknee Springs State Park, which lies just an hour north of Gainesville. And boy, are they gorgeous! Lined by floodplain forests filled with cypress, pine, and oak trees, as well as towering hammocks, the turquoise-hued water reflects each waving branch.

The main spring (a.k.a. the Ichetucknee Head Spring) has been deemed a national natural landmark and is home to many of Florida’s most precious wildlife species.

While canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, and SUPing are popular pastimes in this lovely spot, the most relaxing activity is tube riding. Don’t worry, they aren’t pulled behind a boat (namely because motorized boats aren’t allowed). Hop aboard and prepare for a quiet ride along the six-mile expanse of this natural lazy river. Turtles, beavers, otters, and wood ducks will help guide you along the way.

Insider’s tip: When you’re feeling parched from all that lazy river riding, head to the Ichetucknee General Store Grill for a drink, snack, or hand-dipped ice-cream.

Address: 12087 Southwest US 27, Fort White, Florida

Official site: https://ichetuckneesprings.com/

8. Ponce de Leon Springs, Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon Springs | Paul Clark / photo modified

Named after the Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de León, this lovely spot is more than worthy of a visit. Fourteen million gallons of water are produced daily in the main spring, which sits at a slightly cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

In addition to swimming and snorkeling, the surrounding Ponce de Leon Springs State Park offers two hiking trails through verdant forest, as well as picnic areas with pavilions and grills.

Another bonus: since the spring’s namesake was searching for the infamous fountain of youth, a trip here may dole out more than just a refreshing break from the heat. It’s worth a try, right?

Insider’s tip: The park is busiest on weekends and holidays, so arrive early or, better yet, aim for a weekday visit.

Address: 2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road, Ponce de Leon Springs, Florida

Official site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/ponce-de-leon-springs-state-park

9. Devil’s Den Spring, Williston

Stairs leading into Devil's Den Spring

The most unique of Florida’s natural springs, Devil’s Den lies in a prehistoric cave. A popular setting for Instagram photo shoots, the spring is 120 feet in diameter and 54 feet at its deepest part. It’s also 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, which means you may not need to don a wet suit while visiting.

It's a privately-owned scuba diving center, so you’ll have to pay an admission fee upon entry. You’ll also have to snorkel or scuba dive in order to enjoy the venue, as mere swimming isn’t allowed. No worries if you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent it on-site.

Can’t get enough of the coolness? Spend the night in their on-site campground. If you don’t have a tent or RV, you can rent one of their four cabins.

Insider’s tip: Kids under six aren’t able to snorkel, so if you’re traveling with little ones, this may not be your best spring option.

Address: 5390 NE 180th Avenue, Williston, Florida

Official site: http://www.devilsden.com/

10. Juniper Springs, Silver Springs

Juniper Springs

Serene Juniper Springs lies within one of the oldest recreational areas on the East Coast: Ocala National Forest. A freshwater headspring, this gorgeous spot is in the Juniper Springs Recreation Area of the park, just over 30 minutes east of Ocala. It acts as the headwater for Juniper Creek, which leads to Lake George.

Juniper Springs boasts the translucent water typical of other Floridian natural springs. In fact, it’s this pristine, turquoise liquid that draws visitors from across the state and beyond. A crisp 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, this is a great place to take a refreshing dip. Plus, Juniper Springs encourages jumping. They even have a platform to help you get the best position for perfecting that cannonball.

An old mill lies at the edge of the springs. While the main building now serves as a visitor’s center, the wooden wheel still spins. Talk about charming!

Insider’s tip: Rent or bring a kayak or canoe. Juniper Springs Run offers a long, winding, and utterly picturesque setting for an afternoon trip down the waterway.

Address: 26701 East Highway 40, Silver Springs, Florida

11. Alexander Springs, Altoona

Alexander Springs

Another watery gem located in Ocala Natural Forest, Alexander Springs is a prime spot for snorkeling. The crystal-clear water makes viewing the underwater crowd (we’re talking about you, fish, turtles, and lilies) a cinch. No wonder so many photographers break out their best underwater cameras at this gorgeous locale.

With over 70 million gallons of water pouring from this haven each day, Alexander Springs is considered a first magnitude spring. Its water runs to Alexander Creek before traveling over seven miles to join the St. Johns River.

Alexander Springs is one of the best places to visit for families. It’s relatively shallow and boasts a sandy beach. Popular activities include swimming (obviously), hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, SUPing, camping, and canoeing.

Address: 49525 CR 445, Altoona, Florida

12. Silver Glen Springs, Silver Springs

Crystal-clear waters at Silver Glen Springs

You may not be able to swim at Silver Glen Springs, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had on the water. Board a glass-bottom boat for a unique look at the beautiful creatures (including manatees) that lurk beneath the clear surface of this serene spring. The best part? You won’t get wet.

Set against a lush, forested backdrop of pine, oak, and cedar trees, Silver Glen Springs is a photographer’s dream. It, too, is located in Ocala National Forest, but it lies in the 4,000-acre Silver Springs State Park.

Insider’s tip: Up your fun level by renting a canoe or kayak. Silver River is five miles long, the perfect distance for a family activity. Other attractions include the Silver River Museum and Cracker Village (a recreation of a 19th-century pioneer village).

Address: 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, Florida

Official site: https://silversprings.com/

13. Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Springs

You won’t be alone when you visit Wakulla Springs in Ed Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. Deemed the deepest (and largest) freshwater spring on the globe, this is a popular place to spend a day swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. It’s also been deemed a National Natural Landmark and a National Archaeological and Historic District.

A wooden tower is located at the main spring, enticing adventure seekers to jump into the clear water below. Those craving even more excitement will find it below the surface of Wakulla Spring’s turquoise waves. A system of underwater caves spans the area, calling all scuba divers to explore their secret treasures.

Located 30 miles south of Tallahassee, this extensive park is peppered with more than 10 miles of trails that wind through floodplains and hammocks, offering breathtaking views at almost every turn.

Insider’s tip: Climb aboard a River Boat Tour for a 45-minute ride along the spring. You’re bound to see some of the area’s most beloved creatures (including turtles, alligators, and manatees).

Address: 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, Florida

Official site: https://wakullasprings.org/

14. Salt Springs

Salt Springs, Ocala National Forest

Another shimmering star of the Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs lies in Salt Springs State Park. The water in this large spring (it pumps about 53 million gallons of water daily) is slightly saltier than other springs in the area. The reason? The spring contains various minerals and elements, including ancient salt deposits, which combine to create the taste.

Visitors are free to walk along the edge of the “pool” (an area of the spring measuring about 90 by 20 feet that’s enclosed on three sides) on the observation walkway. Those who choose to swim will enjoy temperatures of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and a depth ranging from two to 20 feet, depending how far you are from the spring’s vents.

Insider’s tip: When you aren’t busy splashing about, take time to walk along the Salt Springs Observation Trail or fish, swim, or snorkel at the Salt Springs Run Marina & Landing. You’ll find it next to the Salt Springs Recreation Area.

Address: 14152 SR 19N, Salt Springs, Florida

Official site: https://www.saltspringsfl.com/

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