Swimming in a natural spring is like nothing else. The water is so clear and perfect; you’ll never want to settle for a swimming pool again! Florida has an abundance of gorgeous springs, so pack your reusable water bottles and swimsuits and explore some of the best spots in the state.
You’ll be astounded when you see how crystal clear the water is at one of the largest artesian springs in the world. It produces nearly 550 million gallons of water daily and although swimming is not allowed, you can take a tour in a glass-bottomed boat to view the aquatic wildlife. See the turtles, alligators and fish in their natural habitat! You can also rent kayaks and canoes, or bring your own for a small launching fee. Silver Springs is one of Florida’s oldest tourist attractions, and the glass-bottomed boats have been in operation since the 1870s. It was a booming tourist destination with rides and animal exhibits for most of the 20th century. However, by the time the state took it over in 2013, the park had become run down, polluted, and almost forgotten. Today the park is still in a state of repair and most of its man-made attractions have been shut down while the park services allow it to return to a more natural state. However, the springs are as beautiful as ever, and worth a visit. If it looks familiar, that’s because so many movies have been filmed there, including "Tarzan" and "The Creature From the Black Lagoon".
The pool at Juniper Springs in Ocala is lovely and clear. It’s dotted with hundreds of tiny bubbling springs, as well as several major vents and boils. The limestone wall surrounding the pool has built-in steps and several easy access points for swimmers. The springs form the headwaters for the Juniper Run, which has some of the best kayaking and canoeing in Florida. You can visit the old mill house, built in the 1930s to provide electricity to the park. It’s no longer in use, but it’s been perfectly preserved and it’s pretty darned picturesque to boot.
Blue Spring State Park is a designated manatee refuge. Although swimming is not permitted when the manatees are in residence (November to March), you’ll be glad you came when you see hundreds of them from the boardwalk. You’ll be able to enjoy the 73-degree water in the summer, with swimming, boating, and snorkeling. Rent a tube and float gently from the main boil back to the dock. The park itself is a stunner, so plan to spend the day, or even a few at one of the campgrounds.
Wekiwa Springs is one of the prettiest spots in Florida. It’s only about 5 feet deep at its deepest point, with a flat and sandy bottom, so it’s very kid-friendly. Come for the swimming, the boating, and the beautiful setting. It’s not far from Orlando, so it’s the perfect place to recharge after a few days at the theme parks. The spring pours 42 million gallons of beautiful, cold, clear water into the Wekiwa River every day. The campground is well kept and clean, and very welcoming to RVers.
The biggest mineral spring in the world is in North Port, Florida. More than an acre in circumference and almost 250 feet deep, it’s really more like a pond than a spring and it’s geothermally heated, making it one of only two hot springs in the state. The temperature generally holds steady at 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface, 97 degrees at the lowest vent. Thousands of visitors come every year to float on the warm water (high mineral content makes the water extra buoyant), explore the underground caves, and soak up the many alleged health benefits. They’re following a long tradition, too. Humans have been visiting the spring for thousands of years. Paleo-Indians buried their dead in the walls before the water rose to its current height and a human skull found here has been dated to be around 10,000 years old!