Did you know that there are several natural Florida Springs not far from Jacksonville? You can hop in the car and spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and keeping cool? Whether you’re looking for mermaids and want to do a little kayaking or just splash around in a clear, cool swimming hole, we’ve got a round-up of all the family friendly springs you should plan to visit this summer.
Located in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs Recreation Area has everything a family needs for a day of fun in the sun. There are hiking trails, swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, picnicking, and more waiting to be explored.
Florida State Park: Blue Springs
Blue Springs State Park has swimming and water sports in the summer. Winter is a great time to visit because the spring fills with manatees. The manatees gathered for the warm 72 degree water. In addition, the park also offers plenty of trails as well as camping and cabins you can rent.
If you are looking for a fun day trip from Jacksonville, plan on making the little over one-hour trip to De Leon Springs State Park. One of Florida’s State Parks, De Leon Springs has easy hiking trails, a beautiful spring and even a boat tour. Go early and plan to eat at the Old Sugar Mill restaurant where you can make your own pancakes.
Looking for a guaranteed manatee sighting? Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is just the place! Located along Florida’s Nature Coast this state park is absolutely worth a visit. Homosassa Springs State Park serves as a rehabilitation and refuge center for injured manatees as well as other Florida wildlife.
Located less than a 2 hour drive from Jacksonville is an oasis of springs. 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.
From Jacksonville, Juniper Springs is just under two hours away and would make a perfect day trip destination. Juniper Springs is a natural, crystal clear pool in the middle of the forest. Important to note, the swimming area is not very big, but it is deep.
A little over 2 hours from Jacksonville sits Rainbow Springs State Park. The spring head that feeds the Rainbow River is located at the park along with lots of fun for the whole family. Rainbow Springs State Park offers a wide variety of activities kids of all ages will enjoy. It costs just a few dollars per person to enter the park. Your family can easily spend the day exploring and swimming in the cool waters of the Rainbow River.
Located 2 hours from Jacksonville, just north of Orlando, sits Kelly Park and Rock Springs. Kelly Park is a county park, where you can swim, tube, and camp. Make plans to kayak from Rock Springs up towards Kelly Park. It’s here that you’ll encounter the Emerald Cut of Rock Springs, it’s stunning and well worth the paddle.
Florida geography is, of course, known for its beautiful sandy white beaches, picturesque salt marshes and brackish waterways. But did you know that Florida is home to over 700 freshwater springs? Luckily for us, many are located in northern & central Florida. Royal Springs is a hidden gem, in a rural area of Suwannee County.
Salt Springs is located in the Ocala National Forest, it’s a short and scenic hour and a half drive away from Jacksonville. 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.
Have you heard of Silver Glen Springs? It’s a hidden Florida oasis perfect for the entire family to enjoy. Located deep in the Ocala National Forest, Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area is about two hours from Jacksonville and makes the perfect day trip for your family.
Just under two hours from Jacksonville, in Ocala, is the oldest commercial tourist attraction in Florida, Silver Springs State Park. Stories of their famous glass-bottom boat tours and monkey sightings convinced us to make the trip.
Florida State Park: Weeki Wachee Springs
With a real mermaid show & waterpark, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a top summer destination. Most importantly, plan to go early because this popular park fills up fast particularly in the summer. In addition to all the fun you can have at the park, you can also explore the Weeki Wachee River on kayak.
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!
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