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Florida Spring: Salt Springs Recreation Area
Location: Ocala, Florida
One Florida spring that my family and I keep returning to is Salt Springs. Located in the Ocala National Forest, it’s a short and scenic hour and a half drive away from Jacksonville. Salt Springs Recreation Area is currently my nine-year-old daughter’s favorite spring that we have explored.
Our family likes to visit springs during the week, and early in the day. For us every visit to Salt Springs has resulted in very light crowds, in fact, our last visit we were the only ones swimming in this massive swimming hole. The swimming area has a cement wall built all around it, with stairs to enter the water. From up above you can see everything in the water, it’s so blue and crystal clear! When you enter the water it is a bit deep, and a brisk 72 degrees, however, there are lots of shallow areas throughout the spring that are perfect for younger kids and novice swimmers.
Salt Springs is an amazing place to snorkel. Just under the surface of the water, you will see so many different schools of fish swimming around, and even the occasional blue crab. The 52 million gallons of spring water bubbles up from the caves in a few different spots surrounded by rocks making even more areas to explore and snorkel over.
The landscape surrounding the springs is sprinkled with old oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, one oak tree is even over 200 years old. The grounds are simply stunning and worthy of a stroll. Make sure to pack a picnic for lunch under these magnificent oaks. There are scattered picnic tables surrounding the swimming area as well as plenty of open spots to lay a blanket or set a chair.
We tent camped at this park over spring break and were impressed with how super clean the park is. Every trip to Salt Springs Recreation Area we take note of how well maintained and cared for all areas of the park are. While camping we hiked Big Swamp Trail, one of the many trails in the park. It was about a 40-minute loop with our young girls. Don’t forget the bug spray if you decide to hike in the summer months. Parking for Big Swamp Trail is located by the RV camping area.
Salt Springs Recreation Area is a great adventure for the whole family. The daily fee is $6.50 per person, and worth every penny! There are restrooms and changing areas as well as a small store with snacks and spring swimming items located on the path to the swimming area. Nature abounds at Salt Springs, go and explore it.
If you’re interested in learning more about springs in Florida, we recommend Touring the Springs of Florida: A Guide to the State’s Best Springs. It’s a great resource for day trips that your family is sure to love!
Looking to explore more springs in Florida? Check out our other suggestions for the best springs to explore with your family!
Jillian Gishler is a New Englander at heart. Born in Jacksonville Beach, she grew up in Massachusetts but was beckoned back to Florida by Mickey Mouse for a Disney World Internship. She returned to the beach in 2005 after graduating from Florida State. Ten years ago she opened her handmade & vintage collective shop, Sew Vicious, in Neptune Beach. Jillian raises chickens, is a passionate gardener, a DIYer, a thrift store junkie, and a deal loving mama who runs Sunny Savings. She leads her daughters Girl Scout Troop, teaches sewing at a local Montessori School, and is a Parents Who Lead Alumni. She loves surprising her husband and daughters with mini-vacations around the Sunshine State.