If you have the time to explore more of Florida, then don’t miss out on the freshwater natural springs near Orlando. There are 25 springs around Orlando, all within 2 and half hours drive offering plenty of choice if you are searching for “a spring near me.”
The best springs near Orlando have some great facilities for families, with gentle entry points, crystal clear water with swimming permitted as well as playgrounds and picnicking areas. Some even have water slides and mini beaches. They make a great alternative if you are looking for something different to do in Orlando with kids.
Florida has an incredible amount of springs, with over 900, to be found. These Florida natural springs are formed when the ground water, which is under pressure, flows out through a natural opening in the ground. As much of the ground is formed with limestone and dolomite rocks that dissolves with rainwater there are plenty of springs around the state.
As with all areas of Floridian water; natural or salt water, alligators and other local wildlife can be found. As locals say, assume water as alligators in it, until proven otherwise! Although it is rare to spot one as they usually keep their distance. Always keep an eye out and pay attention to any warning signs and avoid swimming at night.
SPRINGS NEAR ORLANDO FL & SURROUNDING AREAS TO VISIT WITH KIDS
1. Alexander Springs Recreation Area (Ocala National Forest) 1 hour, 10 mins drive
Alexander Springs is wonderful for families looking for family friendly springs in Orlando Florida. Alexander has a sandy beach area and a gently sloped spring pool making it perfect for young children.The water is a constant 72°F and clear. Look carefully to see small fish! You can swim, snorkel, kayak, canoe, hike, camp, fish, picnic, bike and scuba dive here.
2. Blue Spring (Volusia) (50 minutes drive)
Blue Spring State Park is vast with the largest spring on the St. John’s River. It’s a great spot for manatee spotting during November through to March, which is when all water activities are closed. Out of manatee season, visitors can swim, fish, canoe, kayak and go on river boat tours. If you are looking for springs close to Orlando, this is one of the nearest.
3. De Leon Springs State Park (1 hour drive)
At De Leon Springs visitors can swim, paddleboat, kayak, hike and fish. The swimming area is conveniently accessible by stairs, ramp, and a swimmer lift. Lifeguards are provided during the summer months only. Picnic tables, grills and a playground are available under shady trees, with four pavilions available for rent. Two additional pavilions are free, first-come, first served. All are near the spring and restrooms. You can rent canoes, paddleboats and kayaks from the park’s concession.
4. Devil’s Den (1 hour 40 minutes drive)
The ancient Devil’s Den is an underground spring inside a dry cave in central Florida. Bones and the remains of many extinct animals have been found there. Children under 6 cannot enter but otherwise children can visit this privately owned scuba diving training center and can either snorkel or scuba dive. Just swimming is not permitted. Along with tent and RV camping, there are four cabins and one double-wide trailer. The cabins sleep 4 people while the double-wide sleeps 6 people.
5. Fanning Springs (2hr 13 drive)
Fanning Springs is a popular spot on the Suwannee River, where visitors can swim, snorkel, picnic and play volleyball. There is a kids playground on site too.
6. Ginnie Springs (2hr 10 drive)
Enjoy the seven crystal-clear, freshwater springs nestled in over 200 wooded acres along the banks of the Santa Fe River in Florida. Ginnie Springs offers amenities such as volleyball courts, covered pavilions, playground, a campsite, laundry wifi-access and has a general store on site.Swimmers are welcome and turtles are a regular feature. If you camp at the springs Ginnie Springs Outdoors offers pitches for $21.34, adult, $6 child. Alternatively, a cottage sleeps up to 8, from $175 a night for up to four, each additional adult $21.34 or $6 per child.
7. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (1.5 hour drive)
At Homosassa Spring there is plenty of native Florida wildlife to see; including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. Manatees can be viewed every day due to the constant temperature in the main spring. Manatee programs are offered three times daily. At the Wildlife Encounter programs, snakes and other native animals are featured. Visitors can picnic on site but no swimming.
8. Ichetucknee Springs State Park (2.2 hours drive)
The Ichetucknee River flows for six miles and joins the Santa Fe River. It’s a popular place for tubing in Florida as well as swimming, snorkelling, canoeing and hiking. Picnic areas are available with tables and grills. A full-service concession offers food, refreshments, and outdoor products from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park if you don’t have your own.
9. Juniper Springs (Ocala National Forest) (1 hour, 17 drive from Orlando)
Juniper Springs is a popular spot with swimming, trails, a campground and picnic area. There are hundreds of tiny bubbling springs under palms – making it a beautiful oasis.
10. Kelly Park Rock Springs (Orange County) (Just 36 minutes drive away)
Kelly Park allows swimming and tubing (tubes must be under 5ft in length). Tubes can be rented from vendors outside the park. Visitors can also camp in tents or an RV. An onsite playground and picnic areas are also available. This is one of the closest springs to Orlando.
11. Manatee Springs (about 2.2 hours from Orlando)
Manatee Springs State Park is open for day use activities including picnicking, hiking, swimming and diving.The waterfront restroom is closed for renovations, but the family restroom is open. The headwaters of the spring are also a great spot for swimming. Canoeing and kayaking is available all year round
12. Poe Springs (2 hours)
Poe Springs Park offers free swimming in the springs, picnic facilities and open play areas. The park features a playground, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, volleyball courts, softball/kickball/soccer field, nature trails and its own spring.
13. Ponce de Leon Springs State Park (1 hours drive from Orlando)
Snorkelling and swimming are allowed in the clear waters. Grills and picnic pavilions are available. It’s a popular sport and during the summer months if you leave for any reason you will not be allowed back in if the park is full.
14. Rock Springs Run (Orange)– Part of Kelly Springs 38 minutes drive
At Rock Springs Run you can swim and tube. Kelly Park features a free-flowing natural spring (68 degrees year round), full-service concession, picnic pavilions and playground. Tube rentals are available from vendors outside the park; guests may bring their own pool noodles or floats that must be less than five feet in length or width. The waterfront closes one hour prior to park closing. During the summer, inclement weather can affect park operations; for the safety of our guests, the swim area will be closed if a storm produces lightning.Tent and RV camping are available at this park;
15. Rainbow Springs (1.5 hours from Orlando)
Rainbow Springs State Park is home to three facilities: the main “headsprings” entrance, the tubing entrance, and the campground. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at the head springs. All inflatables, including rafts, tubes and balls, are not allowed by the headsprings area for safety reasons. Swimmers may wear life preservers or use noodles. At the headsprings visitors can also view waterfalls and gardens, and enjoy a picnic area with grills, and pavilions. About 9 miles away, at the tubing entrance, visitors may rent tubes and use a shuttle service to float down the Rainbow River back to their vehicles. Tubing is available weekends only until September 28 each year. It will then be closed for the winter season and unavailable until April of the following year. Guest Services Inc. will shuttle you upstream two miles, where you enter the Rainbow River and float leisurely back to your vehicle. The trip takes about two hours to complete.
16. Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park (2 hours from Orlando)
The park contains a collection of natural springs, including a large second-magnitude spring that produces an average of 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, has outstanding water clarity and discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River.The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring and Johnson Spring, which provide scenic vistas and photographic opportunities. Paddling, snorkelling and swimming are all popular at the park. Pavilions are available, and a concession stand provides food and beverage service plus paddling equipment rentals. Other popular activities include camping, hiking, nature study and picnicking.
17. Salt Springs (1.5 hours from Orlando)
Salt Springs Recreation Area is one the recreational jewels of the Ocala National Forest, with a spectacular natural mineral spring that gives the area its name. Plenty of outdoor activities keep campers and day-use visitors busy, including swimming in the springs, fishing, snorkeling, hiking and boating. The recreation area and campground are located in the community of Salt Springs, which has a gas station, grocery store, several restaurants, bait and tackle shops, a post office, laundromat and visitor center.
18. Silver Glen Springs (1hr 15 from Orlando)
This beautiful spot along the edge of the Big Scrub offers a spring run that pours into Lake George, the largest of the St. Johns River Chain of Lakes. Both a popular day-use recreation area and an important archaeological site, Silver Glen Springs showcases the delicate balance between enjoyment of the outdoors and preservation of irreplaceable resources.
19. Silver Springs State Park (1 hr 20 mins)
With glass bottom boats, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, hiking, camping and more, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Silver Springs. Please note swimming is not permitted.
20. Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge (Crystal River) (1.5 hours drive from Orlando)
Enjoy a boardwalk around Three Sisters Springs and explore 57 acres with nature trails to view 5 natural springs, Lake Crystal and wetlands. Manatee can be found in Kings Bay year round. In-water recreation at Three Sisters Springs is accessible by launching a vessel from any of the public boat ramps or kayak launches on Kings Bay and navigating to the spring-run for Three Sisters. Public kayak launches can be found at:
- Hunter Springs Park, 18 NE 2nd St, Crystal River
- King’s Bay Park, 268 NW 3rd St, Crystal River
Visitors must arrive by paddle craft or motorized vessel to get to the spring run at Three Sisters Springs; however, motorized vessels are not permitted inside the Springs. Paddle-craft are permitted inside from April 1 to November 14. There is NO water access to Three Sisters Springs from the refuge and no land access from the water. Please note that there is no public parking or water access on the refuge. During the summer season (April 1st-Nov. 14th ), walk-in/bicycle-in access is available seven days a week from the front gate located at 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River,Fl. In-water access DOES NOT include access to the boardwalk. The boardwalk and property around the springs can ONLY be accessed through the City of Crystal River’s services 8:30 am – 3:30 pm and daily admission fees apply.
21. Troy Spring State Park (2.5 hours drive from Orlando)
In central Florida, this 70-foot deep, first magnitude spring offers opportunities for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Troy Spring has restrooms, an accessible walkway, picnic tables, a nature trail and a riverside dock for canoeists and boaters on the Suwannee River. The main spring area has some shallow and some deeper areas, for swimming and diving respectively. Those wanting to cool off on a hot summer’s day can splash around in the 72-degree water, or strap on a mask and snorkel to venture out over the spring if feeling a little more adventurous. It’s a popualr one and one of the best Florida springs.
22. Weeki Wachee Springs and Buccaneer Bay (1 hour 42 minutes drive)
From the legendary Mermaid Shows to our exotic River Boat Cruises and Wildlife Animal Shows, you and your family will be amazed and entertained from the moment you enter this classic park. Buccaneer Bay is Florida’s only spring fed waterpark. Enjoy our white sandy beach, thrilling flume rides, beach volleyball, Lil’ Mates Cove and much more!! The water slides, kiddie pool, and lazy river open weekends only in late spring.
The swimming area at Buccaneer Bay is open is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm. The slides are generally open weekends from March to early June, daily from June-August, and weekends through September. To verify operating hours for the water-slides, contact the park in advance. The beach and swimming area are open 365 days a year.
23. Wekiva Falls RV Water Park (33 minutes from Orlando)
Welcome to “The Falls” a great daily hang out and Water Park in Orlando! Our natural sulfur spring is warm and features two water slides as well as a DJ on the weekends! Stop by our marina for canoe and kayak rentals in Orlando area. We offer 2 & 3 person canoes and single person kayaks. Nature and Adventure are a unique combination here at The Falls!
Park is open daily from 8am to 5pm. All day pass guests park their vehicles in Mastodon Meadows and walk to the spring. There is limited handicap parking. We have a Trolley available to bring guests to the oval! You are welcome to bring your own tables, chairs, canopy tents, beverages (no liquor), and food! We also have Tiki Tables and Canal Tables available for your use at no additional charge! We are a pet friendly park! Dogs must remain on a leash and may not swim in the spring. Breed Restrictions Apply.
24. Wekiva Island (23 minutes drive from Orlando)
Wekiva Island is an environmentally friendly destination located in Longwood, Florida. Wekiva River remains a constant 72 degrees all year round and guests are welcome to enjoy swimming along the boardwalk area or in other designated swimming locations along the river. Outside floats are welcome. If you are searching for springs in central Florida, this one is a good all rounder.
25. Wekiwa Springs (Orange) (18 minutes drive)
Wekiwa Springs offers visitors the opportunity to relax in a natural setting, enjoy a picnic, kayak, canoe, camp or take a swim in the cool spring. A playground, volleyball court and horseshoe pit are also located in this area. Individual size flotation devices are allowed in the swimming area. Wekiwa is one of the Florida springs near Orlando with only an 18 minute drive from downtown – traffic permitting!
OTHER NATURAL SPRINGS IN FLORIDA
There are numerous natural springs in Florida. Here are a few more Florida springs to check out!
EDWARD BULL WAKULLA
LAYFAYETTE BLUE SPRINGS STATE PARK (2 hours, 52 minutes drive from Orlando)
Visitors can swim in the first magnitude spring and picnic at these natural Florida springs. Visitors can also fish or canoe and stay on site in one fo the park’s rental cabins.
MADISON BLUE SPRING PARK (A trek from Orlando as 3 hours away)
This crystal clear, first magnitude spring is a popular spot for swimming and cave diving.
PEACOCK SPRINGS IN FLORIDA
Wakulla Springs State Park (3.5 hours drive from Orlando)
Today, visitors can swim where mastodons once roamed and take guided boat tours where dugout canoes once glided across the cool waters. Alligators, manatees and an abundance of bird life can all be seen. Glass bottom boat tours are offered when the water is clear to a depth of 75 feet (an event that rarely occurs in the present day).Swimming is permitted.
Have you visited any of these springs in Florida, near Orlando?
Tips for Visiting Springs in Florida
- The majority of the state park websites state that once they reach capacity, they will not allow re-entry if you leave for any reason.
- Weekends are peak crowds and fill up early. Plan for an early morning arrival if you intend to visit then.
- Most places have rentals outside the park so bring your own water gear if you can.
- Bring water shoes
- Check first if tubes are allowed.
- If planning on fishing, make sure you have an active Florida Freshwater Fishing License.
- Bring a waterproof carrying case for phones and other valuables.
- Although rare, alligators and snakes can occasionally be seen in the water. If you spot an alligator, alert a staff member, so they can take the appropriate actions.
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