15 Magical Cold Water Springs in Florida
Florida isn't just beaches and theme parks. In fact, it's a fairly wild place that's full of wildlife refuges, dense marshland and 900 freshwater springs.
Many of these springs are surrounded by lush tropics or forest, making the surrounding areas great for trail walking when you aren't enjoying a cold dip or kayaking your way through the waters. Some Florida springs also run into larger rivers, making a visit worthy of a weekend trip or longer. After all, you'll want to explore the abundant Florida wildlife — think manatees swimming, gators or turtles sunbathing and an assortment of birds.
Here are 15 springs in Florida that offer a magical experience away from the touristy beaches for which the state is known.
Location: Spring Hill
Weeki Wachee is the only spring in Florida that has a mermaid show, which in itself is a reason to visit. But add to that the park's natural beauty, plentiful kayaking and paddle boarding opportunities and a small water park at the springhead for kids to enjoy, and you won't want to leave.
Location: High Springs
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is nothing short of stunning. The Florida state park features Gilchrist Blue spring as well as several other springs on site. Visitors can swim in the springhead as well as can kayak or paddle board to the Santa Fe River.
This isn't the only spring where you can see manatees, but it is a great location for it. In addition, you can walk the 800-foot boardwalk to check out the giant cypress trees.
Location: High Springs
Ginnie Springs is on privately owned land and is a vast system of springs and underwater caverns. It's fun to camp for the weekend to enjoy all the different activities — just make sure not to miss the blended water in Devil's Ear.
Location: Silver Springs
Believe it or not, Silver Springs was Florida's first tourist attraction, dating back to the 1870s. So, you can rest assured that you won't be disappointed by a visit to this state park, which offers kayaking, paddle boarding and glass-bottom boat tours.
Formerly known as Blue Spring, this is a great spring to kayak, paddle board or tube down! Rent a river house on the nearby Withlacoochee River to enjoy.
Location: Fort White
Ichetucknee Springs offers a great location for adventures and wildlife, where you may see otters, beavers, wild turkeys and more.
This spring feeds approximately 42 million gallons of water to the Wekiva River every day. Swimmers love the varying depths of its waters — from about 1-foot to 20-feet deep.
Madison Blue Spring
This spring makes an excellent swimming hole, surrounded by dense forest that will make you feel as if you're in a different world. In addition to swimming, divers can also dive the cave system.
One of the largest spring systems in Florida, there are so many diverse things to do in Homosassa Springs. This location is one of the best for scallop season — rent a charter and dive down to see how many you can catch.
Ponce De Leon Springs
Location: De Leon Springs
In 1513, Ponce De Leon led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, which is how this spring got its name. Picnicking, swimming and walking nature trails are all popular activities to partake in here.
This Florida spring features a winding springhead that's great for kayaking as well as a recreation area complete with a platform to take in the view of the waters.
Warm Mineral Springs
Location: North Port
At more than 200-feet deep, this natural mineral spring is believed to have healing properties. Fun (or eerie) fact: Well-preserved human remains have been found here.
Camp, swim, hike and chill at this beautiful spring. Just look at those turquoise-blue waters!
Devil's Den Prehistoric Spring
You won't want to miss this small spring in an open cave. Unlike the other springs mentioned, this one is more of a hole with a deep cave system underneath. Advanced-level scuba divers enjoy cave diving, while everyone else can swim and enjoy the surrounding camp area.