My favorite thing about going to Florida used to be sun on my face, salt in my mouth and sand between my toes.
In recent years, my favorite Florida pastime has shifted just a bit.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – I still love the beach. Going to the ocean will always be a high point for me. Swimming, snorkeling and jumping waves are some of my all-time favorite things to do.
But now, there’s a place I love to swim even more than in the ocean: Florida’s wild, sweet and clear freshwater springs.
Florida is blessed with more freshwater springs than anywhere else on earth – more than 700 of them! Because they flow from an underground aquifer, each crystal clear, turquoise-green spring stays at a constant 72 degrees year-round, regardless of the weather.
Florida’s springs are some of the most beautiful places on earth, typically ringed with old trees adorned with Spanish moss that lend an overall feeling of being at an enchanted lagoon or lake. The water is calm, crystal clear and sweet to the taste, making these springs the absolute perfect place to take a dip on a hot day.
Here are some of our favorite central Florida freshwater springs for swimming, critter-watching and more.
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – this was the first freshwater spring I ever swam in, and I was hooked from the very first moment we got in the water. Z and I swam out to a diving dock, where she had so much fun climbing out and jumping back in, over and over again. In addition to its enchanting spring, Weeki Wachee State Park also has historic mermaid shows, riverboat rides, animal shows, a theme park with rides and so much more. We’d love to return here someday.
- Blue Spring State Park – we’ve never gone swimming at lovely Blue Spring, but we’ve been here many times as it’s very near where my in-laws live in central Florida. This is a gorgeous place for critter-watching, especially in winter when the manatees come into the sheltered spring run to warm up. We have many fond memories of little Z running along the boardwalk here in squeaky shoes. We’ve also taken the St. John’s River boat tour that leaves from here, and it was excellent.
- Silver Glen Springs – this gorgeous spot may be my favorite of all the springs we’ve visited. Its sandy bottom makes the water look like a crystal Caribbean sea, and there are palm trees leaning over the water just begging for a photo opp. We loved swimming here and saw many different types of fish, including a mysterious possible alligator gar that only Z saw and which we still talk about years later! I would love to visit this spring again on our next trip to Florida.
- Alexander Springs – this is the spring we have visited most often and it is utterly beautiful. We love swimming and snorkeling here and have seen many kinds of fish and also turtles. Alexander Spring hosts mermaid meet-ups every Monday, with dozen of folk wearing mono-tails splashing about and having fun. Z and I love to swim out to the boil (the underground source of the spring) and then Z bravely dives down to an underwater cave. I never tire of watching her free dive!
If you love swimming in beautiful surroundings, with peaceful and gorgeous “wild Florida” nature scenes everywhere you look, then I think you would love these freshwater springs as much as we do.
I should note that I’ve also heard really great things about Wekiwa Springs State Park near Orlando, but I haven’t been there yet personally.
Have you been swimming at one of Florida’s amazing springs? Which one is your favorite? I’d love to hear your freshwater tales in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram.