Top 10 Natural Springs in Florida Near Orlando

Swim at the freshwater Juniper Springs in Silver Springs, Florida. US Forest Service photo by Susan Blake
Swim at the freshwater Juniper Springs in Silver Springs, Florida. US Forest Service photo by Susan Blake

Florida is home to more than 700 natural freshwater springs, including several swim-worthy springs a short driving distance from Orlando. Natural springs in Florida make the perfect place to cool down during our humid summer months.

These spring-fed swimming holes are crystal clear and remain anywhere from 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making them extremely popular for both residents and tourists alike. Many are surrounded by parkland, offering hiking, fishing, and more pre-swim family activities. Others include water slides and mini water parks.

We've rounded up our 10 favorite natural springs in Florida, centrally located around the Orlando area. Plan a trip to take a dip in any one of these refreshing springs with the kids to enjoy the natural beauty Central Florida offers.

Find more fun places to visit in Florida with our Family Travel Guide, including the best beaches near Orlando and big theme-park-style water parks in the area, too.

Note: Some amenities may not be available due to COVID-19 restrictions. We have tried to provide the most current information, but check each park’s website or call ahead before you go.  

Top 10 Natural Springs Near Orlando

Families love the sandy beach and gentle slope at Alexander Springs. US Forest Service photo by Susan Blake

1. Alexander Springs – Altoona

Alexander Springs is one of only 27 first-magnitude springs in the state, meaning it produces in excess of 64 million gallons of water every day. It has a sandy beach area and a 300-foot spring basin for wading and swimming, open year-round. Because of its gentle slope and crystalline waters, the setup of this natural spring is perfect for younger kids. Families can also enjoy mountain biking, camping, fishing, nature trails, and scuba diving here. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available.

2. Blue Spring State Park – Orange City

Blue Spring is the largest spring located off of the St. John’s River, discharging over 100 million gallons of water daily.   Summer amenities include scuba diving, snorkeling, tubing, and swimming. Kids might enjoy hiking along the nature trail or visiting the historical Thursby House. Multiple picnic pavilions and a playground encourage all-day fun at this Florida state park.

In the winter months, Blue Spring becomes a warm-water refuge to hundreds of West Indian manatees and is one of the best places in Central Florida for visitors to see these gentle giants.  For the safety of the manatees, all water-related activities at the spring are closed from mid-November through March.

3. De Leon Springs State Park – De Leon Springs

This park’s history dates back over 6,000 years, serving as a home of the Mayaca Native Americans. Swim in the designated 72-degree, 500-foot spring-fed swimming area and you'll be treated to a great view, too. This swimming area overlooks Spring Garden Run, which expels 19 million gallons of water each day. The depth at this Florida spring ranges from a shallow 18 inches all the way to 30 feet at the spring boil. Be sure to bring snorkeling gear to explore below-the-water artifacts. Other amenities include nature trails, a fishing pier, boat tours, picnic pavilions, a playground, and a visitor center with exhibits and a touch table. NOTE: There are no lifeguards on duty at this swimming hole.

The park was also once home to the first water-powered sugar mill in Florida, built in 1832. The modern-day Sugar Mill restaurant onsite now lets visitors to the park cook up their own pancakes on table-top griddles. Just be sure to arrive early to get your name on the waiting list!

4. Juniper Springs – Silver Springs

This beautiful deep blue spring is surrounded by a lush subtropical landscape and man-made limestone walls. This spring is unique in that it is comprised of hundreds of tiny bubbling springs in addition to the large spring that together produce over 7 million gallons of water daily. The swimming area is shallow at one end and deep at the other, making it fun for both kids and grown-ups.

There are picnic areas, walking trails, and snorkeling options, too. Canoeing, kayaking, and camping are also popular activities at Juniper Springs. Wildlife is abundant around most natural springs in Florida, including this one, so when you visit, keep your eyes open; you may spot an otter along the spring run or an American eel in the tape grass!

5. Rainbow Springs State Park – Dunnellon

One of Florida’s largest springs, this first-magnitude spring includes a series of small vents that expel over 400 million gallons of water per day. The clear sapphire-blue waters make this a popular swimming hole during the summer months, with depths ranging from 5 to 18 feet. There is also a small wading area for toddlers. Snorkeling is also allowed within the buoyed swim area. Note that there is no lifeguard on duty in the swimming area. Tubing is also a popular summer activity at this park. Guests can rent a tubes, canoes, and kayaks onsite to explore the river. 

In addition to the springs, families might want to check out the gardens, man-made waterfalls, butterfly garden, and nature trail. Concessions and picnic facilities are also available.

6. Rock Springs at Kelly Park – Apopka

Known as Florida’s natural "lazy river," this free-flowing freshwater spring in Central Florida offers crystal clear water that is 68 degrees year-round. Visitors can rent tubes at several places outside the park, or bring their own to travel downstream. There is a large swimming area at the park as well.  Full-service concessions are available along with picnic pavilions and an impressive playground. Kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals are also available.

RELATED: Top Orlando Hotel Water Parks

Swim, kayak, or otherwise float along in the Silver Glen Springs near Lake George. US Forest Service photo by Susan Blake

7. Silver Glen Springs – Salt Springs

Located off of Lake George (the second largest lake in Florida), this spring is very popular with boaters, as they are able to anchor in the crystal clear spring run outside of the swimming area.  A gently sloping spring basin makes the swimming hole accessible for a variety of ages. Be sure to bring your snorkeling gear to view the abundance of fish in the spring.  Visitors can hike along the two nature trails or rent a canoe or kayak to travel along the spring run.  Picnic tables and barbeque grills are available, so pack a lunch to enjoy a full day of fun in the sun.  The spring is also a significant archeological site, with large mounds (known as middens) protected behind fences and are considered sacred to Native Americans who once inhabited the spring area.

Note: there are changing facilities available, but no flush toilets (only portable).

8. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – Spring Hill

This natural spring is part swimming hole, part water theme park! It has water slides, mermaid shows, underwater caves, and more spread over 200 acres.  

The Buccaneer Bay water park located at this spring features a white sandy beach, water slides, a natural lazy river, and a Lil’ Mates cove with a water play area for kids 6 and younger. The famous Mermaids of Weeki Wachee perform live in a submerged theater. Multiple concession areas and picnic pavilions are available throughout the park, and there is a seasonal restaurant at Buccaneer Bay. Additional amenities and experiences include a playground, animal encounter, paddling, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, and boat tours along the river.

9. Wekiva Falls – Sorrento

This warm natural sulfur spring has a shallow water spring run plus a swimming lagoon complete with a sandy beach area, water slides, and a 360-degree waterfall. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. There are a large campground, multiple picnic areas, and a playground to enjoy on a longer stay. A DJ plays on family-friendly hits on weekends and leads kids in water games. There are plenty of dry land games here, too: pickleball, shuffleboard, and cornhole, plus a Tiki Bar for the adults, and a pancake breakfast on Saturdays.

RELATED: Orlando Theme Parks Guide and Reviews

The shallow swimming area at Wekiwa Springs State Park is ideal for kids. Photo by Bart Everson/CC BY 2.0

10. Wekiwa Springs State Park – Apopka

A short drive from downtown Orlando, this 7,800-acre park features an emerald spring that produces 43 million gallons of water a day. It is extremely popular during the summer months and often reaches capacity, so plan to arrive early. The large, shallow swimming area is over half an acre with an approximate depth of 4 feet. Other park options include snorkeling, geocaching, bicycling, fishing, camping, hiking on over 25 miles of trails, picnic pavilions, and a nature center.

Tips for Swimming at Natural Springs in Florida

  • Most of these parks reach capacity quickly upon opening, especially on weekends. If you are able, plan your trip on a weekday to avoid large crowds.
  • Remember to bring sunscreen to protect your skin and lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • If planning on fishing, make sure you have an active Florida Freshwater Fishing License.
  • A mask, snorkel, and water shoes are highly recommended.
  • Bring a waterproof carrying case for phones and other valuables.
  • While not common, it is possible to see alligators and snakes in the water at these springs. If you spot an alligator, alert a staff member, so they can take the appropriate actions.
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