Of course, you’d expect to find beautiful water when visiting Florida. The Sunshine State is home to various water sources, including pristine ocean-side beaches, wetlands, rivers, and lakes. Florida also has hundreds of natural springs that entice visitors year-round.
But how do you choose which natural springs to visit? We’ve listed the seven best natural springs in Florida here. Now, all you need is vacation time and a swimsuit!
Florida has over 700 natural springs – an almost magical phenomenon that draws millions of visitors every year. But what may feel like magic is quite scientific.
There’s a great deal of porous limestone lying under Florida’s surface called the Florida Aquifer. An aquifer is a natural phenomenon in which penetrable rock lying beneath the earth’s surface collects drinkable fresh water. Many states and cities use natural aquifers for their freshwater supplies. The Florida Aquifer system serves all of Florida and parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and even the Gulf of Mexico.
How does the Florida Aquifer gather this water? When porous limestone is exposed, it collects water. Usually, you’ll find fresh water in the upper cavities and saltwater below.
The aquifer system does more than supply fresh water, however. Salt and fresh water form tunnels and cavities, creating natural springs. Some have been underground for millions of years, unearthed by heavy rains that break up the rock.
Many of Florida’s famous natural springs are measured as first-magnitude springs, meaning they’re the largest natural springs. To be counted as a first-magnitude spring, it must discharge at least 64.6 million gallons of water per day.
These massive freshwater attractions are what visitors flock to every year. The ones we’ve listed here are the most sought-after destinations for their magical qualities.
Located in northern Florida, just southwest of Jacksonville, Ginnie Springs offers everything you’ll need for your Florida vacation. This includes scuba diving rentals and training, along with snorkeling and swimming. You’ll also find paddleboard and kayak rentals. If you’d rather float and relax, you can rent a tube and float down the Santa Fe River.
Plus, RVers love Ginnie natural springs in Florida because of its campground with all the amenities. Whether you need a tent space or an RV space, you’ll find what you need in Ginnie’s 200 wooded acres. Camping fees include access to the springs where you can camp and soak in style.
Location: 7300 Ginnie Springs Rd., High Springs, FL 32643
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.7
Devil’s Den is a privately owned and operated natural spot south of Gainesville, Florida. Only scuba divers and snorkelers can visit this hot springs’ underground river, but there are a heated swimming pool and a hot tub for swimmers.
When the “roof” of the ground above this underground river collapsed, it exposed the underground springs. Now, you can submerge yourself in a magical water world that’s a constant 72 degrees.
With tent and RV camping, along with cabin rentals on-site, snorkeling and scuba diving are literally in your backyard. Additionally, Devil’s Den has a certified scuba diving training center if you’re interested in learning to scuba dive or snorkel.
Location: 5390 NE 180th Ave., Williston, FL 32696
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.1
This natural spring in Florida is in Ichetucknee Springs State Park on the Ichetucknee River. You can enjoy a float down the six-mile spring-fed river, or take part in swimming and boating excursions. This is also a popular natural spring for diving, snorkeling, and cave exploration.
Many natural springs feed the Ichetucknee River, including the Blue Hole Spring. Sixty-seven million gallons of water flow through here daily, and you can feel the push-back when swimming.
Ichetucknee Springs is also well known for its wildlife. You could see beavers, turtles, wild turkeys, and more while floating down the river.
Location: 12087 SW US Hwy 27, Fort White, FL 32038
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.1
Just west of Orange City, you’ll find Blue Springs State Park. This Florida natural spring offers scuba diving, kayaking, swimming, wildlife viewing, and more.
If you visit in winter, water activities are closed for manatee season. But you can wander along trails and view wildlife, including manatees. This is the largest winter gathering site for these “sea cows” in Florida. You can see hundreds of them in the crystal clear water while strolling along the boardwalk at Blue Springs.
There are 51 campsites available to both tents and RVs, and it’s walking distance to the spring itself. You’ll have everything you need here, including a dump station and other amenities such as water and showers. These natural springs in Florida will give you an experience you’ll never forget.
Location: 2100 W. French Ave., Orange City, FL 32763
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.9
This first-magnitude spring is on the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. Experience a natural swimming hole within a lush forest while swimming, snorkeling, and cave diving. Madison Blue Springs is 25 feet deep and rated the #1 swimming hole in the country.
Known for its refreshing waters and many underwater caves, you’ll find little nooks and crannies everywhere. Head out for cave diving or snorkeling, but grab your tubes, kayaks, and any water toy you have to fully embark on this journey.
Location: 8300 NE State Rd 6, Lee, FL 32059
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.6
Located in the Ocala National Forest in central Florida, north of Orlando, Silver Glen Springs is the main attraction. The water is among the finest-quality springs out of Florida’s 600 springs.
Once a popular manatee refuge, the spring’s manatee population has decreased due to increased recreational activity. While there’s no scuba diving allowed to protect the wildlife, you can enjoy snorkeling, floating, swimming, and paddling. This is a well-known archaeological site, and the spring pours directly into Lake George.
The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service website boasts that there are new float-up restrooms for $4 per person. What that means is a bit unclear; however, it sounds like a great convenience added to the fun of a natural springs area.
Location: 5271 State Hwy 19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.5
On the east side of King’s Bay, you’ll find this stunning natural spring in Florida waiting for you to explore. There is no access to the water via the refuge that’s part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
You’ll find kayak launches nearby. You may swim, but there’s no land access until you arrive back at the boat launch. If you’d rather explore the area on foot or bicycle, you can access the boardwalk directly from the refuge.
It may seem inconvenient to get on the water here; however, it adds to the springs’ private allure. Plus, protecting the wildlife, including the manatees, is vital to this region.
If you’re looking for a natural spring that offers wildlife sightings along with paddling access, Three Sisters Springs will not disappoint.
Location: 123 NW US Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL 34428
Morton Road Trip Rating: 9.8
We know the science behind the natural springs in Florida, but it’s the magic that draws us in every time. The wildlife, the human body gliding through the water, the dive for new discoveries, the warm water that soothes our bodies and our hearts – that’s the magic of Florida’s natural springs.
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