There’s so much more to experience in Florida than just expensive theme parks. It’s a state where you can find refreshment on hot days and warm nights. If you’ve had enough of saltwater beaches, take a swim in Florida’s clear freshwater springs — from prehistoric caves to man-made grottos, there are many swimming venues to explore.
Made from coral rock quarry, the historic Venetian Pool in Miami boasts two waterfalls and cave-like grottos for swimmers to enjoy. Built in 1923, the facility was designed in an Italian-style architecture with loggias, porticos, and a bridge that emulates the historic bridges in Venice, Italy. The pool is fed with spring water from an underground aquifer and is drained daily in the spring and summer months.
Blue Hole in Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Remote and enclosed within the woods, Blue Hole is the largest of the seven springs that comprise the Ichetucknee Springs. Swimmers can wade through its beautiful clear waters that flow from a limestone submerged cavern in the area.
In western Florida, Crystal River is a popular spot for swimmers and snorkelers alike because it’s a shelter for manatees. The gentle sea creatures migrate to Crystal River for its warm temperatures, and swimmers can get a close-up view in the clear blue waters. Manatees are on the highly endangered list, so while touching is permitted — chasing them down is not.
Take a dip into the Ginnie Springs to see large bass, catfish, and turtles in the crystal clear water. The scenic spring is located on the south side of the Santa Fe River in High Springs, Florida. Visitors can also go tubing through the Santa Fe River since it connects to the spring. Be aware, though — swimming is at your own risk since there are no lifeguards on duty at the property.
People have enjoyed Florida’s fourth-largest spring for more than 10,000 years in what is now known as Rainbow Springs State Park, about 40 miles southwest of Gainesville. The popular swimming spot is also available for snorkeling, kayaking, and canoeing. Swimmers won’t feel confined — the spring stretches far and wide with depths ranging from 5 to 18 feet.
Float your worries away and relax on the calm waters of Juniper Springs. Sheltered by plenty of shade from the lush oak trees in the landscape, this heavenly hub is perched in the Ocala National Forest (about 70 miles north of Orlando) and offers visitors a peaceful swim in its warm waters that spring from natural caverns.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
A reminder of what Florida used to look like when it was inhabited by the Native American Timucua tribe, Wekiwa Springs State Park features a beautiful cold spring to swim in, along with 13 miles of hiking trails and opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. The state park is just to the north of Orlando.
De Leon Springs State Park
With more than 625 acres of fun, De Leon Springs State Park is ideal for travelers with varied interests. The spring remains a brisk 72°F year round and produces 19 million gallons of water per day. Located a little over 30 miles to the west of Daytona Beach, this state park’s swimming area is handicap accessible, offers both scuba and snorkeling opportunities, and the park rents out kayaks and canoes.
Ocala National Forest
The southernmost woodland in the United States, Ocala National Forest is a wonderful place to explore the beauty of nature. The park has an impressive number, more than 600, of crystal-clear springs, ponds, lakes, and springs which are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The park also hosts a 66-mile stretch of the Florida Scenic Trail as well as a variety of bike and horse-friendly trails.
Kelly Park Rock Springs
With a year-round temperature of 68°F, Kelly Park Rock Springs is a wonderful place to cool down on a hot day. Because the park’s creek flows freely and swiftly, one of the most popular activities among visitors is tubing. A float down the “lazy river” takes about 30 minutes to complete. The park also hosts an ever-popular Cardboard Canoe Regatta, normally held in the fall.