Did you know that North-Central Florida is the natural freshwater springs capital of the world? Well I had no idea until I moved to Lake City, right smack dab in the middle of North Florida two years ago.
Growing up I was a beach gal all the way. I had never even been to a freshwater spring until my boyfriend brought me to Lake City for the first time four years ago. Now, I can’t get enough! During the warm months we try to go to as many springs as we can. Each one has something different to offer.
From peaceful parks to party spots, there’s a spring for every occasion.
Wholesome Family Fun
If you’re looking for a spring that’s fun for the whole family, look no further. Blue Springs State Park in High Springs is the newest Florida state park and it’s one of my personal favorites. The park has a few natural springs, including Gilchrist Blue, a crystal-clear body of water complete with a wooden deck that lets you walk through the Florida marshes. The spring has a wooden dock that’s perfect for diving in, and the kids (and adults too!) will love it! It has a shallow shoreline so the little ones can sit and play in the sand or you can set up a chair and relax in the water. There’s also canoes and tubes available for rent, plus it’s a great snorkeling spot.
Peace and Quiet
Troy Springs is my favorite spring to go to when I just want to relax and float on an inner tube. It’s truly a hidden gem. Located in Branford, Fla., the park looks like nothing from the dirt parking lot. But, when you walk down the winding wooden trail, a beautiful oasis appears through the trees. There isn’t much space for laying out and tanning, since most of the shore is rocky, but the water is great and I’ve never had trouble finding a parking spot. This park is perfect for scuba divers too! It’s 70-feet deep and it even has a sunken Civil War-era steamboat. There is also a small cave that you can swim through with just a mask, no tank required. If you want to just relax in the Florida sunshine, this is the spring for you.
A Day of Adventure
Ichetucknee Springs is perfect for a day of water adventures. Tubing down the river is one of my all-time favorite summer activities. This Fort White spring allows you to truly get right in the middle of one of Florida’s most picturesque areas are enjoy it first hand. You can canoe, kayak or just sit in a tube and cruise down the natural lazy river. It’s a six-mile ride from one end of the spring to the over, but during the summer months there are trams to take you back to your cars. The Ichetucknee is located just 30 minutes from my house and we plan on enjoying it as much as we can this summer.
If you’re looking for a spring that has a little more fun, check out Ginnie Springs. Every summer and holiday weekend Gennie Springs (also located in High Springs) gets packed with college students, friends and families looking to have some fun. I went for a bachelorette party and let me tell you, you can make friends with anyone you meet while floating down the Santa Fe River. There’s also canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling, but the best way to experience these springs is by grabbing a tube and heading out right in the middle of it. Since the park is privately owned, it is more expensive to get into than the state parks, but you CAN drink alcohol here (another reason why it’s a popular party spot).