It’s summertime in Florida and millions are speeding to the Sunshine State’s 663 miles of real beaches to escape the heat and humidity. This makes sense since no place in Florida is more than an hour and a half drive to the coast.
Yet thousands of Floridians are heading to Florida’s springs, where cooling waters between 70 and 75 degrees offer swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing. Florida has more first magnitude springs (that’s 64.6 million gallons of water every day) than anywhere else in the world.
And the good news: most of the top springs are in Florida State Parks or county parks where picnic facilities and campgrounds add land recreation. Since many people would prefer to stay at a motel or bed and breakfast, we’ve selected our favorite Florida summer springs located near towns.
ICHETUCKNEE SPRINGS STATE PARK, off US 27 near Gainesville, is the best tubing spring with 3.5 miles for tubes, canoes and kayaks and an in-park shuttle. Scuba is allowed only in winter and this place gets jammed with University of Florida college students on weekends.
Ichetucknee’s Sheltered River Is Cool Summer Fun
WEKIVA SPRINGS STATE PARK , just 10 miles north of Orlando, is a delightful water oasis in an urban area. Kayak and canoe to the headquarters by the St. Johns, family swimming, and twenty miles of hiking and biking trails. It’s too crowded, however, for tubing and scuba.
The Family Swimming Hole at Wekiva
RAINBOW SPRINGS STATE PARK, off I-75 east to Dunnellon, was once a famous private tourist attraction, but now it’s Florida’s second best tubing spring with rentals and a tube launch 1.4 miles south of the head spring where swimming is the key. There is a huge campground and nearby motels.
Rainbow Springs In Summer
DeLEON SPRINGS STATE PARK, off I-95 north of Daytona, is probably the most kid-friendly spring with its huge pool and lifeguard staff. There is kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, and snorkeling. The old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant allows everyone to make their own pancakes.
DeLeon Springs Has A massive Swim Area
BLUE SPRINGS State Park (Volusia), off US 17-92 to Orange City, is not a giant spring, but it has a spectacular swimming area, a slow tube float, fun snorkeling area, and kayaks and canoes in the adjacent ST. Johns River. The manatees will be gone in summer. This park is a short drive from Daytona Beach.