Since exploring the Sunshine State over the last few years, I have come to love the Springs of Florida! I have mainly adventured to those centrally located but they all have something unique to offer. If you’re heading to Florida Springs, I have some tips and tricks for you. Here we go!
Located in Ocala National Forest will definitely give you all the tropical feels. There is swimming, picnic areas, campgrounds, hiking trails, boardwalks, and kayaking. The water is a refreshing 72 degrees all year long. The boardwalk will take you through the forest where you will witness wildlife, boiling salt springs, and crystal clear water.
Three Sisters Springs at Crystal River
Amazing springs, manatees, birds, and a boardwalk to take it all in. Close by is the Crystal River Wildlife Refuge where you can paddle, snorkel, and swim with the manatees. You can launch a kayak at Kings Bay or Hunter Springs to get to Three Sisters Springs if you are wanting to explore by way of water (note: there is no water access from the springs to the refuge). The manatees love Three Sisters and the refuge! Snorkeling here with these gentle giants is a must-do!
Silver Springs State Park
From glass bottom boats to kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards … there are many ways to explore this state park. We opted for kayaking and made our way through the clear waters of the spring to the entrance of the Silver and back to the springs. You can skip the river (turning around where it starts) as it can be more of a strenuous paddle to return to the spring area, but well worth the views. We saw a few manatees here plus an alligator sunning himself.
Weeki Wachee Springs
My most favorite paddle yet. The waters of the Weeki Wachee are unreal! From the launch site you will make your way for 3 miles through some of the most beautiful waters I have ever seen in Florida. There are several sand-bars along the way which is great to stop for lunch or for getting out to take a dip in the water. If you are lucky, you may even spot manatee’s floating beneath your kayak.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Whether you take a swim, a paddle, or just enjoy the beautiful and serene gardens filled with colorful flowers and waterfalls, Rainbow Springs is a great place to spend the day. The entrance fee is $2 and gives you access to the whole park. Kayaks and canoes can be rented on site. Camping is also allowed just a few minutes drive from the head springs!
Rock Springs/Kelly Park
Kelly Park is the perfect day trip destination! Between the 7 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and swimming (when allowed), I am certain you will love the beauty of this park. It’s also known as Bear Country so be on the lookout! Nearby Camp Joy offers a place for you to launch your kayak or canoe and gives you access to the Emerald Cut, noted as one of the most beautiful sections of Rock Springs Run. If you launch at Camp Joy, you can either paddle back or arrange for a pick up at Wekiva Island.
A river with many surprises! One of the prettiest springs known as the Seven Sisters Spring is within minutes of you launching into the river and yes you can stop and swim here! Don’t skip it! As you paddle on, you will come to Baird Creek, a tributary of the Chaz. Paddle as far as you can, park the kayak, and begin to wade in the ankle deep water towards the secret swimming hole known as The Crack. Don’t be surprised to spot many different birds, otters, turtles, and maybe even a manatee here! The river, after about 2.5 miles, will turn into the Wildlife Refuge and this will continue for miles, but this is where we turned around.
Silver Glen Springs
The turquoise blue waters of Silver Glen are located in Ocala National Forest. A busy place in the summers as houseboats line the spring run and people enjoy swimming in the warm, clear waters. There are two trails around the park; Spring Boils Trail and Lake George Trail. Canoes are available for rent or bring your own to launch for no fee. The main Spring Boil pumps 72 million gallons of water per day down to Lake George and is a first magnitude spring. The second spring known as the Natural Well attracts many fish to it’s depths. This is a short but fun paddle! We saw manatees, many fish, and even crabs!
Florida Springs has no shortage of places to explore! Whether you are going to paddle, swim, or just take in the beauty of the lush landscape, I am sure you will enjoy it! The waters of the springs give you a chance to enjoy many types of wildlife from fish to crabs to manatees and even alligators. The thick vegetation is home to many bird species too! The springs really do offer something for everyone!
About the Author
Shona is an RN, Adventurer, & Travel Blogger who loves exploring the great outdoors & finding off-the-beaten-path places! I love good food, coffee, & a great view! Whether its hiking in the mountains, kayaking, or snorkeling the sea, being nature is where I feel most alive! Follow her adventures on Instagram: @dirtroadshighheels and sign up for her emails right here.