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Florida Spring: Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Location: Fort White, Florida
Located less than a 2 hour drive from Jacksonville is an oasis of springs where families can sit back, relax, and float down a natural waterway. Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, tubing down Ichetucknee Springs has become a right of passage for many Floridians. This state park offers good old-fashioned fun that makes it a perfect summer day trip with the kids.
If you’re planning a trip to Ichetucknee Springs State Park, then plan to leave early. There are two main tubing options at the park, the north launch and the mid-way launch. The full river float (north to south) takes just over 3 hours. There is a very strict limit of 750 people per day that are allowed to launch from the north end. Make sure you’re there very early, or better yet, try to go during the week when the park is less crowded.
One of the nice things about Ichetucknee Springs tubing is that it is very organized. All this talk of north, south and mid-point tubing and where to park might seem overwhelming, but once you arrive there are rangers there to assist you with any questions you might have. There is a very reliable and easy to use tram service that will take you from the south parking lot to the mid-point where you can tube the 1.5 hours back down to the south end. A tram ticket (bracelet) is required for everyone in your party, but the great part is that it’s valid all day so you can float down the river as much as you like until the park closes.
One thing you’ll need for tubing is TUBES! There are vendors outside the park where you can rent, you can also get them inside the park at the south parking area. If you’re planning to launch at the north entrance then you must bring your tubes into the park, you can’t go rent at the south and then take them up to the north. You can also bring your own tubes from home, the ones with handles to hang onto while you’re on the river are ideal and kids might prefer tubes with mesh bottoms so they feel more secure.
Tubing down the springs at Ichetucknee Springs State Park can be fun for the whole family. Big kids and little kids alike will love floating through the lush landscape. If you go, consider wearing water shoes since you’ll need to do some walking at the launch points. Kids might also enjoy goggles or a mask and snorkel so they can look for small fish in the river. Lastly, if you’re traveling with little ones, you might want to bring a rope or cord to connect your tubes. It makes it easier to keep track of everyone if you’re tied together.
Be sure to pack a lunch if you’re planning to spend the day at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. There are some concessions available for purchase, but the menu is very limited. There are lots of great spots for a picnic and you’ll be hungry after floating down the river. You can’t take any single use drink containers on the river, but you can take reusable water bottles.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park makes a great day trip from Jacksonville that the whole family will enjoy. There is a small fee to enter the park and of course your tube rentals to consider, but over all it is a low cost day of family fun. For more information about tubing Ichetucknee Springs State Park visit their tubing info site.
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!