Ever since I was a kid I loved going to natural springs and only when I got older did I learn that it’s Florida’s unique geology (a limestone cap that traps saltwater thousands of feet below sea level) that makes them unique to our state.
But the important thing is that we protect Florida’s 320 known freshwater springs. There are springs from central to north Florida and some of the finest are within state parks. We’re in the height of summer now so put these on your planner and dive into their crystal clear 72-degree waters for one of the most refreshing experiences on earth!
• There are several Blue Springs and Blue Springs Park is off CR 340 southwest of High Springs. The family-owned park has five springs on the property, two that feed into the main pool which has a silky white sandy bottom that is dazzling in daylight and seductive on your bare feet.
• Then there’s the Blue Spring State Park three miles south of DeLand. From the head spring the creek runs a third of a mile to the St. Johns so you can splash, canoe, tube in areas shaded by a canopy of trees.
• Ichetuckenee Springs State Park has one of the most popular springs in the state. It’s off CR 238 in Fort White about 42 miles northwest of Gainesville. Aside from the water the cool thing is settling into the river on an inntertube or float and drifting down the stream for several miles – an experience that takes a few hours but can melt away a year’s worth of stress.
• Located south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is like going back in time. A classic 1937 hotel is here (order a ginger yip at the soda fountain) and out back the world’s largest freshwater spring is three acres across and churns out 600,000 clear gallons a minute – and the swimming area is excellent. FYI: This and the river it creates made it a perfect location for movies including Tarzan and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
• Finally, Wekiwa Springs State Park is my hometown favorite. Located north of Orlando near Longwood, it’s a special little park where the wide swimming area is created by 42 million gallons of water gushing out from a narrow spring just 15 feet below the surface. For a thrill, snorkel down to the entrance and try to resist the pressure of the water.