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25 Natural Springs Near Orlando You Must Visit!

25 Natural Springs Near Orlando You Must Visit!

Looking for the best natural springs near Orlando to visit? Great – we can help you out there!

Central Florida is well known for its theme parks, from Walt Disney World Resort to Universal Studios and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens. But did you know that Florida’s natural paradises aka the best springs in Florida are right around the corner? The gorgeous natural springs here offer scuba diving, boating, tubing, and other great opportunities to enjoy the beauty of Florida.

Be aware that if you do want to scuba dive, you must be certified to a certain level depending on which spring you want to visit, so check their websites before making the trip over. Same applies to fishing, hunting, and boating licenses.

With that out of the way, here are the most beautiful Orlando springs that are practically mini Heavens on Earth.

25 Central Florida Springs Near Orlando that’ll make you say, “Ahhhhh…paradise”

1. Kelly Park Rock Springs – Apopka, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 34 minutes

Kelly Park Rock Springs is one of the nicest places to visit near Orlando in the summertime to cool off. There’s a beautiful swimming hole that’s beautiful blue crystal clear water for you to swim in until sun down. One of the most popular activity at the springs is tubing which we highly recommend!

Aside from water based activities, there is also great hiking trails and wildlife sightings at the springs. There is a good chance you can see different species of wild birds, tortoises, and possibly (although unlikely) black bears.

One of the best Orlando springs for sure.


2. Crystal River – Tampa, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 30 minutes

Crystal River Preserve State Park in Tampa is a paradise where spring water merges with saltwater and the result is stunning. The natural estuary is perfect for boating and fishing, as well as swimming with manatees in a special tour. This is the only place you can swim with manatees in Florida. The river has access some of Florida’s best springs including the Three Sisters Springs.

In addition, for any history lovers, the Crystal River Archeological State Park is home to ruins of burial mounds and temple/plaza areas that may also have served as a ceremonial site for Native Americans. The on-site museum provides artifacts, exhibits, and more information to learn about the area, which makes the site not only fun to swim in but also to learn.


3. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – Spring Hill, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 36 minutes

Weeki Wachee, which is home to live performing mermaids and water slides, provides a truly unique experience that has been running as one of Florida’s oldest roadside attractions since 1947.

Weeki Wachee Springs is also home to a beautiful freshwater cave system that flows from a fresh spring. Not only is it home to a beach and a spring but also a variety of things to do, including a water park, canoes, and a restaurant. If you ever get the chance, come during the summer season so that you get to experience everything, as during the off season not everything will be open.

Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs/ Facebook

4. Alexander Springs – Astor, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 6 minutes

Nestled in beautiful Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is not only consistently a beautiful 72 degrees, but is also the only place in Ocala National Forest that allows you to go scuba diving.

There’s a gently sloped beach that leads into the basin, and you are more than welcome to bring your picnic basket in order to enjoy your own delicious food and drinks within view of the spring. There are also camping sites available on a first come first serve basis at Alexander Springs, so feel free to bring your tent for a great outdoors experience.

Alexander Springs

Alexander Springs/ Flickr

5. Juniper Springs – Ocala, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 18 minutes

Under a dense canopy of oak trees, Juniper Springs is unlike any other spring in that it’s winding waterway makes it perfect for kayaking. There’s also a beautiful pool, but just be aware that there are eels in the water swimming alongside you, harmless yet slippery.

For the more adventurous backpackers and adventurers, Juniper Springs offers wildlife that is not common for anywhere else, including albino gray squirrels and otters. For kayaking enthusiasts, the winding waterway is a lot of fun to kayak although you will want to be an experienced kayaker if you want to make this run as the waterways are narrow and there are a few navigate rapids.


6. Blue Spring State Park – Orange City, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 40 minutes

If you are hunting down great springs in Orlando but don’t want to drive too far – Blue Spring is the spring for you as it is one of the closest springs to Orlando.

Blue Spring State Park, known for its beautiful refuge of springs, is more than just a fun tourist destination. Thanks to its conservation efforts, the manatee population in central Florida has been able to make a resurgence from a population of 14 in 1970 to 485 in 2018.

Centered around the beautiful St Johns River, you can take a guided boat tour around the river and see some of the incredible wildlife, including the manatees, eagles, and more in the rare scrub ecosystem. It’s worthy to note, though, that swimming with manatees is not offered here and you can’t swim in the springs in winter for this reason. In summer, you can swim in the springs and enjoy the awesome tube run.

Blue Spring State Park

7. Three Sisters Springs – Crystal River, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 32 minutes

Nestled in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Three Sisters Springs is the perfect spot for all snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.

World renowned for its manatee sanctuary, Three Sisters Springs offers a great boardwalk for walking along and watching the manatees as well as swimming, though you will need to enter either from Hunter Springs Park or King’s Bay Park. If you want to go to go on a manatee tour via Crystal River, this is the tour we would recommend.

Three Sisters Springs

Three Sisters Springs/ Wikipedia

8. Ginnie Springs – High Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours

With their slogan as “A Slice of Pure Florida,” there’s a good reason why Ginnie Springs is one of the best springs to visit. With underwater caverns, tubing and kayaking along a gorgeous river with beautiful nature surrounding you, Ginnie Springs is one of those places you just have to visit if you want to say you’ve been to Florida.

The scuba diving in the underwater caverns is unlike anything you will have ever seen, from the unusual geological formations in the Ginnie Ballroom to the Pleistocene-era fossils in the Santa Fe River.

You can camp at the springs, although the facilities are a little dirty. If you prefer a nearby hotel, here is a list of comfortable Ginnie Springs hotels we would recommend.

Ginnie Springs

Ginnie Springs/ Flickr

9. Silver Glen Springs – Marion, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 15 minutes

Unlike the rare wildlife of Juniper Springs or the scuba diving of Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs is home to archeological discoveries abound because at one point it was a humble village. Now, it’s all underwater, where you can discover fossilized items and snail shells all from the viewpoint of your snorkel mask.

No, there’s no scuba diving, but you can still experience this trip back in time with your snorkel mask and enjoy it. The swimming area is also clearly marked for kayaks and other water vessels to avoid as well, so it’s perfectly safe for swimmers.

Silver Glen Springs

Silver Glen Springs/ Flickr

10. De Leon Springs State Park – De Leon Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 50 minutes

De Leon Springs, out of all the springs listed here, has the most in terms of archeology and natural history. It was once called “Acuera” meaning “Healing Waters” by Mayaca Indians, and looking into the water of the spring, it’s not hard to see why.

Going as deep as 30 feet, the spring is accessible to swim, scuba dive, boat, and canoe/kayak. In addition, you can visit the historical site of the old sugar mill that used to run there before it became the Sugar Mill Restaurant, which has delicious food and drinks.

One of the bet natural springs near Orlando.


Source: Ebyabe / Wikimedia

11. Gilchrist Blue Springs – High Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours

One of the newest additions to the Florida State Parks in 2017, Gilchrist Blue Springs is a collection of natural springs, including Gilchrist Blue, which produces 44 million gallons of freshwater on average per day. If that’s not impressive enough, the springs offer gorgeous Instagram worthy views of scenic turquoise waters and green marshes.

One of the best parts is that you can paddle back to the Santa Fe River and continue to explore, however, it’s also important to note that there are alligators outside of the swimming areas, but as any local will tell you, alligators won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

Gilchrist Blue Springs

Gilchrist Blue Springs/ Flickr

12. Rainbow Springs State Park – Dunnellon, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 20 minutes

Bright blue waters, sloping hills, and flowering vegetation seem almost holy in this spring, and for thousands of years, Rainbow Springs has served as a place of healing for native people.

With lush gardens, great picnic spots, and restaurants and campgrounds, Rainbow Springs can also serve as a great place for reunions and other gatherings. You can even get married and/or have your engagement photo session here. Or you can just sit back and relax in your canoe, listening to the calming sounds of the water beneath you.


13. Salt Springs – Salt Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 30 minutes

Not too far from Ocala and the Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs offers so much in terms of recreation and relaxation: from canoeing and boating to a comfortable small town with great restaurants and beautiful hiking.

The springs themselves offer gorgeous mineral rich water: more than 53 million gallons per day! The campground is the largest in the Ocala National Forest, and the trails offer incredible sights and wonderful wildlife waiting to be discovered. For hunters who want to keep their shooting game sharp, Salt Springs also offers a hunting range, so long as you bring your own targets and tacks for the backboards.

14. Devil’s Den – Williston, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 30 minutes

Ever want to go back in time? Ever want to go back in time while diving through underwater caverns?

Well then Devil’s Den is the best place to go. Don’t let the name fool you: the gorgeous springs that you snorkel and/or scuba dive through look like they were carved by angels. They don’t offer normal swimming, though: so be prepared to bring your best gear (or rent it from the diving experts at Devil’s Den) and make sure you have your exit buddy. For a truly exhilarating experience, you can book night tours to see the fossils from a completely new perspective.

Devils Den

Adrian Diiaz Cadavid/ Shutterstock

15. Madison Blue Springs – Lee, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 3 hours

A 150 foot spring run running from a limestone basin, Madison Blue Springs among the best in swimming holes, scuba diving, and tubing across the river.

While the water is relatively a little colder, Madison Blue is one of the best springs to visit if you want to say you’ve visited Florida because of the crystal blue waters and is known around the world for the underwater cavern systems. Just be aware, it’s over 26,000 feet of underwater passages.


Flickr/ MJRGoblin

16. Wekiwa Springs State Park – Apopka, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 23 minutes

Minutes from downtown Orlando, Wekiwa Springs offers so much in terms of swimming, tubing, horseback riding, and hiking. For hikers who want more of a challenge, Wekiwa Springs offers a great opportunity for geocaching. If you’re not sure of what geocaching is, it’s essentially a treasure hunt as you use your GPS to find the coordinates for hidden treasures.

It’s a great way to build teamwork with your family and friends while also enjoying the beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. The swimming hole itself is one of the most popular spots for snorkeling as well as paddling.

Wekiwa Springs

Wekiwa Springs/ Flickr

17. Homosassa Springs – Homosassa, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 28 minutes

Endangered Florida panthers, red wolves, black bears, and manatees make up only a small portion of the truly diverse wildlife at Homosassa Springs. In addition to the swimming, there is an awesome underwater observatory where you can observe the wildlife in their natural habitat, a place to walk underwater and watch the manatees do their thing.

The best part about the springs is Maximus the Bear, a black bear who grew up at Homosassa Springs and now serves as an ambassador for the only bear species in Florida in order to raise awareness and to start the conversation on how to conserve the environment for Florida black bears.

Homosassa State Park

Source: Jose Antonio Perez / shutterstock

18. Silver Springs State Park – Ocala, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 1 hour 23 minutes

Silver Springs State Park is not just a step back in time to traditional Florida tourism in the 1800’s, it’s also the largest spring in the state. When you see all of the historical structures and beautiful gardens as you go on a glass bottom boat tour of the spring, you really do feel like you have traveled through time to another era in American history.

The natural beauty and geology of Silver Springs is nothing to sneeze at either, and their annual Springsfest is a great event to attend if you want to celebrate the preservation of natural environments and the protection of Florida state springs.


19. Fanning Springs State Park – Fanning Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours 12 minutes

Turtles, jumping sturgeons in the Suwannee River, white-tailed deer, and gorgeous crystal clear water makes up the beautiful scenery of Fanning Springs State Park. Scuba diving here is fun and perfectly safe for newer divers, with a maximum depth of only 21 feet below, so you don’t need to worry about getting lost in any underwater caves or passages.

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, then the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail is the place to be, which is over 200 miles from the border of Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. You can also paddle along the Suwannee River and it is worth the journey for sure.

20. Ichetucknee Springs State Park – Fort White, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours 15 minutes

Whether you’re looking for an adventure just around the riverbend, or you want a relaxing day out on the crystal blue waters, Ichetucknee Springs is a 2,669 acre state park with six miles of pure river. Not only is Ichetucknee well known for its scuba diving and mountain biking (yes, even in Florida we have mountain biking) while taking in the natural scenery of eight different swimming holes that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

If you want to go for some nice tubing, I suggest getting here early since admittance is on a first come first serve basis.

Ichetucknee Springs

Ichetucknee Springs/ Facebook

21. Troy Spring State Park

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours 3 minutes

If you want to go somewhere more quiet, with crystal blue waters and the wreckage of a Civil War era steamship, then Troy Spring is the place for you! This gorgeous spring, which is 70 feet deep, is a great spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and much more.

If you camp here, there’s a good chance that you’ll come across a gorgeous sunrise morning with the morning mist settling in across the water, which is an experience that you really don’t see every day. When you go hiking, it’s not hard to find the wreck of the Madison, a Civil War era steamship that lies at the bottom of the spring.

Troy Springs State Park

Source: systemslibrarian / Flickr

22. Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park – Live Oak, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 3 hours

If you’re a certified cave diver, then Wes Skiles absolutely needs to be on your list for cave diving. There’s almost 33,000 feet of underwater passages to explore in Peacock Springs, making it one of the longest underwater cave systems in the United States.

Don’t miss your chance to hike award winning trails, especially in the fall when all of the trees turn orange and red. Swimming here is seriously as if you’re in an entirely different world and is beyond breathtaking. Just make sure that you scuba dive with a diving partner.

Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park

Source: Written In Silver Visuals / shutterstock

23. Lafayette Blue Springs State Park – Mayo, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 3 hours

Oak trees covered in Spanish moss, a natural limestone bridge, blue waters as clear as a mirror, it’s not hard to see why Lafayette Blue is one of the most refreshing springs to visit, whether you’re paddling down the Suwannee River or you’re just popping in for a visit from Wes Skiles Peacock Springs, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Lafayette Blue also has a great youth camping area for youth campers of all ages, as well as cabins on stilts in preparation for flooding season.


Source: Flickr

24. Manatee Springs State Park – Chiefland, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 2 hours

The largest spring flowing into the Suwannee River, Manatee Springs gets its namesake from the migrating manatees that pass through during the winter months.

The place is great for hiking along the 800 foot boardwalk, or if you like to snorkel, then you can just walk into the water and just keep swimming. Note: you can’t swim in the water in the winter months as the area is protected for the manatees. There are American alligators in the springs amongst a host of other wildlife, but they’re not in the swimming areas so you don’t need to worry.

25. Wakulla Springs – Wakulla Springs, FL

  • Distance to Orlando – 4 hours

Once home to Native Americans living in villages along the shoreline and later serving as film sets for movies such as Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Wakulla Springs is iconic for many reasons, none the least of which being that it’s home to diverse wildlife, gorgeous blue water, and a 1930’s Spanish style lodge that gives elegance and historical style for weddings, reunions, and other gatherings and celebrations.

If you have open water certification, you’re free to scuba dive as well, and it’s definitely worth the trip.


Source: Flickr


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