Imagine wading through crystal-clear freshwater at a cool 70 degrees with visibility second to none. When you think of the Floridian landscape, your first thought may be about beaches or marshes filled with alligators. However, Florida has the highest concentration of freshwater springs in the world. There are over 1,000 Florida springs, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Not only do these springs account for 90 percent of Florida’s water source, but they make for an incredible recreational activity.
Whether you’re looking for rejuvenation with a quick dip, a spot where the kids will enjoy tubing and wildlife, a scuba adventure, or an evening camping by the water, there’s no shortage of things to do in these Floridian watering holes. From the Panhandle to the Keys, explore these 45 Florida springs. We’ve sorted each spring by region and categorized them by their best features to help you tailor your summer trip to perfection.
Note: This is a syndicated post, republished here with permission.
What to Expect in a Florida Freshwater Spring
Freshwater springs are natural openings in the earth where water flows from the original source. In Florida, the source of these springs comes from one of five aquifers underlying the entire state. The water below the surface is under pressure, causing it to flow towards a spring vent at the surface. The spring can then flow to larger bodies of water across the state.
Locals and tourists alike enjoy the year-round cool temperatures in these freshwater wonders. Expect crystal-clear water, impressive vegetation, and marine life scraping the ground surface. A hotspot for wildlife, these watering holes are known for whooping cranes, while its warm winter water protects manatees.
Although many Florida springs are open to the public, some are owned privately by the state or local governments and are not for public use. Often during manatee season, swimming is not allowed for their protection. Before embarking, review water safety best practices and double-check that the spring is open to the public.
We compiled 45 springs recognized by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and separated them into four Floridian regions, including the northwest, north, central, and south. We researched visitor reviews to determine the most popular features in each spring. Finally, we categorized the features into the best springs for swimming, families, scuba diving, accessibility, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Take a look at the legend below to learn the corresponding icons to the Florida springs’ features. Then plan your stops in each region depending on what’s most important to you.
When you visit freshwater springs in northwest Florida, you can expect picturesque blue waters at impressive depths. The water flows down through soil layers into the limestone rock to create its clarity. The Panhandle springs are perfect for a scuba adventure or a trip with the whole family.
With waters between 69 and 70 degrees year-round, these springs are well known for summer adventures, and for a good reason.
The springs in north Florida are alluring bodies of water placed away from the coast. Early settlers were lured to these secluded coastlines, and locals and tourists enjoy the same today. The Floridan aquifer is closest to the surface in this region, contributing to the number of first magnitude springs in the area.
Perfect for a plunge or a day kayaking, these Florida springs are ideal for an overnight adventure at a campsite nearby.
Another opportunity to enjoy Florida’s landscape away from the beaches, central Florida boasts stunning springs which are easily accessible and filled with creatures native to the area.
Enjoy the wildlife protection state parks and the manatees who make the region their home for the winter months.
The Florida aquifer isn’t as close to the surface in southern Florida and continues to deepen as you go further south. There is no shortage of adventure at these springs, though.
Kids will love the mermaid shows at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, while parents can enjoy riverboat cruises and wildlife.
Years ago, glaciers flowed through Florida, creating the underground geology known today as the aquifer. Florida springs are truly a one-of-a kind attraction. Whether you venture to the bountiful aqua-colored water in Northwest Florida or the wildlife in the state’s southern region, there is something to enjoy for everyone.