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10 Natural Springs to Visit This Summer Near Orlando

Clear water from a natural spring flows through a lush tropical landscape at Rock Springs.

Make a splash in the great outdoors!

Beating the summer heat is easy when you live in a state full of natural springs. Next time you’re looking to shake up your weekend plans, check out one of Central Florida’s swimming holes. Below is our guide of the best swimming spots based on the clarity of the water, activities available and overall sense of safety. Grab a towel, pack a picnic and head out for an outdoor adventure! 

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Name: Wekiwa Springs State Park
Location: Apopka, Orange County
Best for Ages: 8+; strong swimmers
Lifeguards: No
Cost: $6 per vehicle

What makes it great: Wekiwa Springs State Park features a large springhead that has created a beautiful natural swimming pool. The park also has miles of hiking trails, restrooms, a concession area, a small playground and a nature center where families can learn about the history of the Wekiwa River Basin.

PLAY Tip: Pack a picnic basket and blanket. The grassy slope outside the spring pool makes for a perfect spot to have a snack and lounge in the sun.

Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run
Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run

Name: Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run
Location: Apopka, Orange County
Best for Ages: 5+
Lifeguards: Yes, and lifejackets are available
Cost: $3 for 1–2 people or $5 for 3–8 people.

What makes it great: Kelly Park is famous for its crystal clear 68-degree spring water and ¾-mile long spring run. Rent a tube at one of the vendors outside the park and spend the day floating along this natural lazy river. There is also a designated swimming area with a lifeguard stand, concession area, restrooms and picnic pavilions.

PLAY Tip: Get there early. Kelly Park is known to reach capacity as early as dawn during the busy summer months. Plan to be at the gates before they open at 8 a.m.

silver glen springs
Silver Glen Springs

Name: Silver Glen Springs
Location: 1.5 hours north of metro Orlando in
the Ocala National Forest
Best for Ages: 2+
Lifeguards: No
Cost: $8+ tax per person on weekdays; $11+ tax per person on weekends

What makes it great: This is a great park for larger families with children of all ages. When water levels are low, there is a shallow section suitable for toddlers and novice swimmers. Meanwhile, more advanced swimmers can snorkel against the waters of the powerful springhead to see schools of fish in their native habitat. The spring has a party-like atmosphere and everybody brings a pool float to relax in the cool water. While there are port-a-potties, there are no concession facilities, so pack your cooler appropriately.

PLAY tip: If you need a chance to dry off, there is a short boardwalk trail that leads to interesting spring boils on the north side of the swimming area.

alexander springs
Alexander Springs

Name: Alexander Springs
Location: 1.5 hours north of Metro Orlando in the Ocala National Forest
Cost: $8+ tax per person on weekdays; $11+ tax per person on weekends
Best for Ages: 5+
Lifeguards: No
What makes it great:
The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed this large swimming area back in the 1930s, and it has been keeping Florida families cool during the summer ever since. Seventy-million gallons of fresh 72-degree clear spring water gushes from the 300-foot-wide freshwater spring every day. There are restrooms but no concessions. The closest convenience store is miles away, so make sure to pack sunscreen and snacks.

PLAY Tip: Spend a day spring hopping through the Ocala National Forest by purchasing an Ocala National Forest Springs Hopper Pass. For $70 per person, you can have access to six different springs and swimming holes from the date of purchase to the end of the year.

weeki wachee fresh water adventures
Weeki Wachee Fresh Water Adventures

Name: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Location: 1.5 hour west of metro Orlando in Spring Hill
Best for Ages: All ages
Cost: $13 for adults, $8 for ages 6–12; free for ages 5 and under
Lifeguards: Yes
What makes it great:
See a live underwater performance of The Little Mermaid at this park’s world-famous mermaid theater. More theme park than swimming hole, this state park also features the Buccaneer Bay water park with multiple water slides, a lazy river, kayak and tube rentals, guided boat tours and much more.

PLAY Tip: For a real adventure, check out the Weeki Wachee mermaid and ranger summer camp programs.

Ichetucknee springs
Ichetucknee Springs

Name: Ichetucknee Springs
Location: 2.5 hours north of metro Orlando in Ft. White
Best for Ages: Teens; strong swimmers
Cost: $6 per vehicle, plus $5.50 for the tubing tram
Lifeguards: No
What makes it great:
Float 6 miles down the beautiful clear spring-fed waters of the Ichetucknee River. Shuttles run all day to take guests back to the park after a long day of relaxing and playing on the river, making this an especially easy-to-plan adventure for families.

PLAY Tip: Disposable items (food containers, water bottles, etc.) and coolers are prohibited on the river, so plan to eat before you explore. There are concessions within the park.

rainbow springs state park
Rainbow Springs State Park

Name: Rainbow Springs State Park
Location: 2 hours west of metro Orlando in Dunnellon
Best for Ages: 8+; strong swimmers
Cost: $2 per person to visit the springhead; additional fees for tubing
Lifeguards: No
What makes it great:
Take a trip back in time to one of Florida’s original theme parks. Rainbow Springs opened in the 1930s as a tourist attraction with a zoo, manufactured waterfalls and even a monorail. Tourists flocked to the natural-themed paradise for decades. While its heyday may have already passed, it’s still worth a trip to swim in the crystal-clear spring waters, view the old waterfalls and get a taste of retro Florida.

PLAY Tip: Tubes and other floaties are not allowed in the springhead area of the park, but you can rent a tube and float down the Rainbow River for $20 a day.

blue springs state park
Blue Spring State Park | Photo: DavidMontague

Name: Blue Spring State Park
Location: Orange City, Volusia County
Best for Ages: 3+
Cost: $6 per vehicle
Lifeguards: No, bring your own lifejacket
What makes it great:
Blue Spring is a popular destination for manatee viewing in the winter, but it is also an ideal spot to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. The youngest visitors will enjoy wading in the shallow water near the banks, while more experienced swimmers can challenge themselves by swimming upstream to the depths of the springhead.

PLAY Tip: Manatees gather here by the hundreds during cold snaps, so visit even if it’s not peak swim weather. Additionally, take a moment to learn about the grasses and plants that attract the sea cows to this park each winter.

De Leon Springs State Park

Name: De Leon Springs State Park
Location: De Leon Springs, Volusia County
Best for Ages: 3+
Cost: $6 per vehicle
Lifeguards: No; provide your own life jacket
What makes it great:
This all-ages park has cool water that varies from 18-inches to an incredible 30-feet deep, and it’s known to draw big summertime crowds. The spring, mill and surrounding park are rich in Florida history dating back to before the Civil War.

PLAY Tip: Bring your appetite! Dine at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where hungry guests can make their own pancakes on an open table griddle.

Tips for making the most out of your visit to a natural spring:

  • Bring a mask and snorkel: You never know what kinds of plants and wildlife you’ll see in the waters. Common sightings include turtles, alligators and many species of fish
  • Get there early: Central Florida’s swimming springs often reach capacity during the summer months. Plan to be there when the gates open.
  • Check websites for tubing restrictions: Some of the parks restrict the types or sizes of tubes and inflatable toys allowed in the spring pools.  
Written by
Amanda Green

Amanda Green is a native Floridian and mother of two. She enjoys writing about travel, family, adventure, and living the Florida lifestyle. Look for her next time you're outside exploring Central Florida's parks and trails.

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Written by Amanda Green


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