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. Plan to pack a picnic lunch and spend the day at one of our favorite day trips from Jacksonville.
Rainbow Springs Is a Great Day Trip from Jacksonville
Rainbow Springs State Park offers a wide variety of activities kids of all ages will enjoy. Costing just a few dollars per person to enter the park, you can easily spend the day exploring and swimming in the cool waters of the Rainbow River.
If you enjoy some easy hiking in Jacksonville, then you’ll love the trails at Rainbow Springs. There are several trails you can explore while visiting. Most of them are paved and very stroller friendly, making it a great place to wander with young children. Keep an eye out, you might even see some wildlife along the way.
You can Hike and See Waterfalls at Rainbow Springs
If you do venture down one of the trails at Rainbow Springs State Park, be sure to keep your eye out for waterfalls. There are several within the park however, depending on rainfall they might not be active all at the same time.
Rainbow Springs State Park offers a roped off swimming hole. The spring water maintains a brisk 72 degree temperature year round, so visiting on a hot day is a must if you want to swim. The swimming area is deep, over 5 feet in almost all spots. Floats are not allowed, but life jackets and pool noodles are, so plan accordingly if you’re visiting with young children. You also might want to bring goggles or a mask because there will be fish swimming with you at Rainbow Springs.
You can Kayak, Paddle or Tube at Rainbow Springs
Rainbow Springs State Park also offers kayaking and paddle board rentals as well as tubing. Kayaks and paddle boards can be rented at the main entrance, however tubing takes place at the tubing entrance located on S.W. 180th Avenue Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432. There is a park entrance fee of $2 per person at the tubing entrance. Once inside you can visit the concessionaire to rent your tubes and receive shuttle service. The cost for shuttle service is the same even if you bring your own tubes. Tube rentals are available for $20 per person and that includes your tube and shuttle fee. The shuttle will take you up river 2 miles and you’ll float down to your car. The entire trip takes about 2 hours. This is a great alternative to Ichetucknee Springs tubing, because it’s far less crowded in the summer months.
Plan to Spend the Day at Rainbow Springs
If you’re planning to visit Rainbow Springs State Park be sure to pack a lunch. There are concessions sold at the park, but there are also greta picnic areas that are well shaded throughout the park. If you’re planning to tube or kayak out on the river, be advised that there are NO disposable items allowed on the water. All food and drinks must be packaged in reusable containers.
Rainbow Springs State Park makes a great day trip from Jacksonville. The drive is manageable and there’s lots to do when you get to the park. They do limit visitors so we recommend arriving early if you’re going on a weekend or visiting during the week.
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!
Shannon Beckham is a former Special Education teacher, turned SAHM that doesn’t spend a lot of time staying at home. Mom to Cole & Kiley, she loves cheering on the Gators, early morning visits to the beach and traveling with her family. She blogs about her adventures at The Beckham Project.
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