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10 Best Places To Go Tubing In Florida (Natural Lazy Rivers!)

Looking for the Best Places To Go Tubing In Florida?

Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, but strong ocean waves and ripcurrents aren’t always the most welcoming for swimmers and tubers. Luckily, I’m here to introduce you to 10 of the sunshine state’s equally beautiful springs and rivers! With a sunny and warm climate all-year-round, Florida is an amazing location for a relaxing float.

Here are The 10 Best Places To Go Tubing In Florida on the state’s stunning natural lazy rivers

10 Best Places To Go Tubing In Florida You Should Check Out!

Ginnie Springs Outdoors

We’ll kick things off with my personal favorite, Ginnie Springs!

Ginnie Springs is a popular getaway spot for Florida locals. Located less than an hour away from the Gainesville airport, you’ll find this 600-acre natural oasis on the South side of the Santa Fe River.

Bonus: It’s easy to get to from all of the major interstates and roadways!

Back before European settlement, this area was a native Timucuan reservation and place for stone tool manufacturing. To this day, divers sometimes can still find pieces of broken pottery and stone arrowheads spread amongst the 6 different springs.

Here, you can begin your relaxing tubing adventure at the Beaver’s Landing access, and let the currents take you away! Tubing down the lazy river takes approximately 1 hour, and tube rentals are available at the Ginnie Springs General Store. If you’d prefer to bring your own tube, you can fill it at the convenient, free air station.

In addition to tubing, Ginnie Springs is also the perfect place for paddle boarding and snorkeling!

Fun Fact: Ginnie Springs is one of the only springs in Florida where alcoholic beverages are allowed. This is because it is privately owned, unlike most other springs or state-owned parks.

Ginnie Springs Outdoors is open year-round, with the busiest season typically being spring and summer. That said, it can get pretty crowded during these seasons, especially during peak vacation times, such as spring break. The hours can sometimes change, depending on when you plan on visiting, but if you’re a camper, the springs and facilities are open 24 hours a day!

Ginnie Springs

Ginnie Springs/ Flickr

Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run State Reserve

Nestled away in Central Florida, about a 30-minute drive away from Orlando, lies the gorgeous Kelly Park. This nature reserve sits in the city of Apopka, and contains 325 acres of greenery, wildlife, lagoons, and natural lazy rivers perfect for tubing.

This historic Orange County state reserve was founded in 1921 and was transformed into a wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. It has since evolved into a wondrous hideaway perfect for a family trip into the outdoors!

Fun Fact: These Rock Springs bubble up from a network of underground rivers at approximately 26,000 gallons per minute, and this crystal clear water flows to a number of swimming holes throughout the reserve.

Here, the whole family can go on a tubing adventure down the shallow creeks. While this run is a bit short, at only 3-quarters of a mile in length, there are many boardwalks along the way for you to take a break and soak in the sights before re-launching your tubes.

In addition to tubing in Kelly Park, you can also kayak or canoe down to Rock Springs Run through the deeper water. This 8-mile aquatic route is perfect for spotting natural flora and fauna throughout the gorgeous, sub-tropical forest habitat.

Out of the water, Kelly Park/Rock Springs is also a great place for hiking! With roughly 7 miles of hiking trails, you’re sure to become one with nature and see some interesting animals. But if you’re planning a day of hiking, keep in mind that all trails close an hour prior to park closure. The park is open to the public from 8 AM to 8 PM during the summer, and 8 AM to 6 PM during the winter, unless you’re staying in the campgrounds.

kelly-park-rock-springs

Blue Spring State Park

The beautiful Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City, less than 1 hour north of Orlando. Here, you can visit the largest natural spring on the St. John’s River! Home to 2600 acres of fun outdoor adventures, as well as a designated manatee refuge, this state park is a popular favorite for Florida locals, especially during the summertime.

This state park was established in 1972 with the goal of preserving the population of manatees occupying the St. Johns River. Today, Blue Spring State Park is a popular location for swimming, diving, hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and exploring the lush tropical greenery.

While the tube run here is a little shorter, the crystal clear water is well worth it! All tube, kayak, and canoe rentals are handled through Blue Springs Adventures. Blue Spring State Park also offers guided boat tours along the St. Johns River and lower sections of the spring run. Additionally, visitors can hike alongside the spring run or on Pine Island Trail, which is roughly 4.5 miles long.

If you’re looking to make your adventure last longer than a day pass, Blue Spring State Park offers 2 different camping options! In addition to the classic campgrounds, the park offers a unique cabin rental experience, located in a beautiful oak hammock near the manatee refuge.

Visitor’s Tip: Make sure to get there early if you want to avoid a wait! This park often reaches capacity early in the day, no matter the time of year.

Blue Spring State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park

Located in Dunnellon, about 30 minutes away from Ocala, lies Rainbow Springs State Park. This state park is divided into 3 parts: the main “headsprings” area, the tubing area, and the campgrounds. With roughly 6 miles of winding vegetation and a natural lazy river, it’s a great place to unwind and relax with the entire family.

Fun Fact: This historic state park has been a loved oasis by the locals for over 10,000 years!

With many hills, gardens, waterfalls, and of course, the bubbling springs, Rainbow Springs State Park is truly an escape from reality. Once you arrive at the tubing entrance to the park, stop by the concessionaire, hop on the shuttle, and jump into the Rainbow River! This float takes about 2 hours total to complete.

The headsprings area of the park is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. These natural waters are about 10 to 18 feet deep, and maintain a lovely 72-degree temperature all year-round. These headsprings are also a popular site for snorkeling, so don’t forget your masks!

In my opinion, the best way to see the most wildlife throughout this entire aquatic preserve is by canoe or kayak. Rentals are always available within the park, but make sure to abide by the park’s guidelines and leave all potential pollutants behind.

Fun Fact: Rainbow Springs State Park is also a popular Geocaching location!

Like Blue Spring State Park, Rainbow Springs is a very loved place for both day trips and camping, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly and get there early in the day!

rainbow-springs-florida-nature-swimming

Blackwater River State Park

The next spot on our list is Blackwater River State Park, which is nestled in the Panhandle of Florida. This gem offers around 600-acres of forests, with one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the country. The best part? It’s less than a 1-hour drive from Pensacola.

In the 1700s, Blackwater River served as a dividing line between hunting grounds for the upper and lower Creek tribes. Many trade routes also existed along the river, making it a very important historical landmark. Today, Blackwater River State Park provides unlimited recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast!

Despite the regular foot-traffic, the majority of the land near Blackwater River is undeveloped and undisturbed. The creeks that move through the park are actually part of the largest wiregrass ecosystem in the world, which is rarer than a tropical rainforest!

Fun Fact: When the park was established and opened to the public in 1968, it only consisted of 360 acres. In 1981, the Division of Forestry made moves to expand the park an additional 230 acres.

This state park offers a 4-mile stretch of the most beautiful water, perfect for drifting along in a tube, swimming, or even just a quick dip to cool off during your hike! The state park also offers several services including canoe and kayak rentals. The numerous white sand beaches along the water offer the perfect places to lay out, have lunch, and observe wildlife.

Fun Fact: While its name can be misleading, the waterways aren’t actually black. Rather, the river typically looks a transparent gold color. This is due to the root systems of the surrounding vegetation.

While I recommend visiting in the summertime, the park is open 365 days a year, from 8 AM until sunset.

 

Madison Blue Spring State Park

Next on our list, we have Madison Blue Spring State Park! This long-time swimming hole sits between the towns of Jasper and Lee, on the West side of the Withlacoochee River, and it is one of Florida’s newer state parks. What was once used by locals as a freshwater source, is now an internationally known, picturesque location for cave diving, paddling, fishing, birding, and, you guessed it: tubing!

Fun Fact: Madison Blue Spring State Park was voted the Number 1 Swimming Hole in the country by USA Today!

The sapphire waters of Madison Blue Spring are about 82 feet wide and anywhere from 5 to 25 feet deep, and contain one of the biggest underwater cave systems in the area, making it a very popular location for certified scuba divers.

While the state park is open to the public all year-round, tubing in the springs and adjacent river is only available on weekends between May and September. In order to protect this natural resource, make sure to leave behind all food, drinks, alcohol, and other disposable items behind before launching your tubes! While the water here is quite chilly compared to other local springs, the beauty of the deep blue water is absolutely worth it!

While canoeing and kayaking is also a popular experience here, rentals are not offered within the park. Additionally, there are plenty of picnic tables and grills placed around the lush, forested area open for you to use!

Visitor’s Tip: The picnic tables and grills are on a first-come-first-serve basis, so plan accordingly for large gatherings or family events.

madison-blue-spring-tubing-in-florida

Spring Creek Park

Number 7 on our list is Spring Creek Park, located in the town of Marianna in Jackson County. This scenic park offers a longer tubing or paddling experience for those who never want the float to end! The entire float from start to finish is about 4 hours long, so you can sit back, relax, and drift lazily through the crystal clear waters and enjoy the sounds of nature around you! This shallow, sand-bottomed creek begins at Merrit’s Mill Pond and makes its way out to the Chipola River.

Merrit’s Mill Pond covers about 270 acres, and is about 10 to 12 feet deep! The headspring here has several different names, but it’s most often referred to as Blue Spring by locals, or Jackson Blue by the regular divers. This is a first-magnitude spring, and on average, it discharges 650,000 gallons of springwater per day.

Fun Fact: The water that bubbles up from Blue Spring is believed to have been underground for over 17 years!

While the park itself is on the smaller side, there is still plenty to do! Spring Creek Park is a very popular fishing spot, with several boardwalks and natural trails for a hike, or even a leisurely stroll through the trees. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few turtles in the water or near the shoreline!

Visitor’s Tip: If you’re a birdwatcher, you’ll love this park. Make sure to be on the lookout for local birds such as the Louisiana heron!

I recommend visiting Spring Creek Park in the late summer, as the water can get pretty cold (68 degrees on average). Tubing down this spring-fed creek can get a little crowded, especially in the early morning, but the experience is unforgettable!

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is located in Hernando County, less than an hour north of Tampa, and it is absolutely magical.

The name “Weeki Wachee” means “winding river” or “little spring”, and it was given by Seminole natives. This area became a famous Florida roadside attraction, mainly for its “live mermaid” shows, in the late 1940s. This historical state park is still famous today for its magical mermaids, who perform elegant dances 16 to 20 feet underwater!

Fun Fact: Weeki Wachee Spring is one of the deepest natural water holes in the entire country. In fact, it is so deep that the bottom still hasn’t been found!

In addition to mermaids, this park offers fun water rides, slides, camping, and of course, tubing along the lazy river at Buccaneer Bay. This float is only 20 minutes long, but it’s perfect for those of us with a short attention span (plus, we both know you’re more excited for those water slides). There are actually 3 different water slides to choose from at Weeki Wachee: Pirate’s Revenge, the Thunderbolt, and the Cannonball, all of which are almost 30-feet tall! These water slides shoot you out into the clear water of Buccaneer Bay for a refreshing thrill.

Aside from tubing along the lazy river at Buccaneer Bay, you can also have a canoe, kayak, or paddle board adventure down the crystal clear waterways. It’s definitely the perfect place for a fun-filled day or weekend trip for the entire family!

While Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is open year-round due to the sub-tropical climate, I recommend visiting between October and March, when there is a minimal chance of rainfall. It can be difficult to avoid short rain showers in Florida, but if you get caught in one (Alexa, play “The Pina Colada Song” by Rupert Holmes), it’ll likely pass quickly!

Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs/ Facebook

Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

Gilchrist Blue is the newest of all the Florida State Parks, and it is home to several natural springs, including a huge second-magnitude spring that bubbles up around 44 million gallons of water a day! This mainspring sends gorgeous, crystal-clear water through a shallow run roughly a quarter-mile down to the Santa Fe River.

You’ll find this lovely state park in Gilchrist County, about 20 miles away from Gainesville. One of the best places to go tubing in Florida for sure.

This beautiful oasis gets its name from its previous owner, Ruth Kirby. In 1958, Ruth was gifted this land, and its natural springs, by her fiance, Ed Wright (who needs a diamond ring when you own springs?). For the following 6 decades, Ruth and her family maintained and operated Gilchrist Blue Springs Park and welcomed all who were in search of a hidden paradise. In 2017, the park was sold to the state so that it could become a Florida State Park, and just 2 years later, it was re-named to honor Ruth’s legacy.

Fun Fact: This spring run is renowned for its wide variety of ecological habitats and wildlife species!

Gilchrist Blue is made up of 250 acres total, and today, it offers open-air pavilions, concession stands, campgrounds, geo-seeking games, hiking trails, snorkeling, and more! Tubing in the main spring here is a dream, but be advised, due to the vast wildlife and the security of visitors, you can only tube in designated areas of the main spring. If you’d like to go through the run down to the river, you must be in a canoe or kayak. These are available for rent at the park!

While this new-ish state park is lesser known by out-of-state visitors, it’s a beloved sanctuary for locals, and its beauty is well-worth the trip! Gilchrist Blue is open 365 days a year from 8 AM until sunset, with additional accommodations for campers.

Visitor’s Tip: Gilchrist Blue is very close to Ginnie Springs State Park, so if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even visit both tubing locations in one day!

Gilchrist Blue Springs

Gilchrist Blue Springs/ Flickr

Tubing in Florida at Coldwater Creek

Last but not least, we have the Coldwater Creek Paddling Trail, located in Milton. This picture-perfect tubing destination is very close to Pensacola Beach and the Blackwater River State Forest.

Fun Fact: The town of Milton, Florida calls itself the “Canoe Capital of Florida”, but it’s also one of the best spots for a tubing journey!

Coldwater Creek, which goes through the Blackwater River, has one of the quickest currents in the state (Up to 3 miles per hour!). But despite the speed, this is one of the longest floats on our list. Adventures Unlimited offers a 4 to 5 hour long tubing excursion, complete with mesmerizing scenery and even a pit-stop at a rope swing! There are also a bunch of sandbars along the creek, so you can have a rest, refuel, and head back into the water. Here, you’re able to float at your own pace while enjoying the sight of the towering cedar trees and abundance of wildlife.

Visitor’s Tip: As this tube run is a long one, it’s a good idea to pack lunch! You have the option to rent a cooler tube here, which makes it super easy to stop at one of the sandbars for a quick picnic.

As the name of the creek implies, the water here is a bit colder than the other waterways we’ve discussed, so I’d highly recommend visiting this spot during the summer months (May through August). You also have the option to rent kayaks here if you’d prefer!

Visitor’s Tip: If you’re looking for an un-guided, off-the-beaten-path adventure in this area, you can also grab a bicycle and head over to the nearby Blackwater Heritage Trail! This state rail-trail stretches over 9 miles, and brings you through historic Milton.

This location doesn’t offer as many amenities as most of the other Florida state parks we’ve covered, but you won’t find a watery adventure quite like this one, if I do say so myself.

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Do you know of any other cool places to go tubing in Florida? Let us know as we are always on the hunt for awesome new spots.