Sometimes the best way to appreciate your home, is to get out for a day. Today we’re sharing our experiences with several springs within driving distance of Central Florida. They’re the perfect location for a day trip with family and/or friends. Let’s go!
Rock Springs (Bar and Grill)
4939 Rock Springs Rd. – Apopka, Florida
Rock Springs is a unique experience because it’s the only one where you rent big inner tubes and float down a creek. You’ll see people floating with coolers and their snacks for the day, but there’s also a little bar/restaurant along the way “Rock Springs Bar and Grill,” that is known for the most delicious hamburgers, and they rent the tubes too. Stop in to rent your tube and get a burger!
1014 Miami Springs Dr. – Longwood, Florida
This is a really fun place to visit, but it is VERY popular and can reach capacity early in the day (which means you get turned away at the gate). They have an open lagoon area for day swimming, cabana rentals, a beautiful large open bar, corn hole, food trucks, canoe rentals… it’s the whole package for a day of fun at the springs whether you’re swimming or not. The bar and food trucks are open late if you just want to skip swimming and hang out for the late afternoon/evening.
2100 W French Ave. – Orange City, Florida (on the St. John’s River)
We rented a boat to visit Blue Spring. This spring is often crowded from all of the boat traffic on the St. John’s River. If you plan to boat, be patient for “parking” and expect a watery trek through trees to get to the walkway that will lead you to the springs. Straight off the boat, the water was a little higher than ankle deep, about 30 feet from the shore to the walkway. It was about a 1/2 mile walk on the path to the spring.
Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest
This is a very relaxing spring experience. The blue color of the water is beautiful. There is a grass area and several shelter spaces for picnics, and a couple of benches where you can set up a spot right on the water’s edge. We especially enjoy visiting the little general store for snacks, as it was like stepping back in time. Mainly because they have real Slush Puppies and a variety of familiar frozen treats you could buy at an ice cream truck back in the day.
Silver Glen Springs
Ocala National Forest – Salt Springs, Florida
This was an interesting springs experience, because we did not expect to see all the boaters parked right at the far edge of the spring. If you have a small boat or pontoon it might be a fun experience from the boat side too, but expect a crowd – it looked like a boat parking lot out there.
Ponce De Leon Springs, Specifically: The Old Spanish Sugar Mill
601 Ponce Deleon Blvd. – Ponce De Leon Springs, Florida
Okay, so we have never had an experience swimming in these springs because we were too busy making our own pancakes in the old sugar mill! The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is just that, an old sugar mill complete with water wheel, where guests sit at informal tables with built-in griddles where you can cook your own pancakes and eggs! You can order a number of different pancake mix-ins and toppings and it’s a fun experience for the whole family. If you’re not in the cooking mood, you can also order various items like sandwiches, salads, and burgers from the kitchen.
Pro Tip: Get there early or expect a wait, especially on the weekends. Tables fill up fast!
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S Suncoast Blvd – Homosassa, Florida
This was a fun experience for visiting springs in a non-swimmer way. They have a wildlife sanctuary that you get to via ferry from the Visitor Center. The wildlife sanctuary has walking paths that lead you to manatee, wolves, bears, and a lovely garden type area, all in an open natural park setting. The springs also have a large number of wild manatee that settle here when the weather is cooler (winter/spring). We did see boaters in part of the spring, but did not see or experience any open areas for walk up swimming.
PACK A DAY BAG:
If you’re going to have a day of fun and swimming, better be prepared!
SPRINGS VISIT CHECK LIST:
sunblock/sun glasses/sun hat
Here are some items we found on Amazon that made our springs trips more enjoyable.
Floats! We definitely recommend bringing a small float. Something simple, like a pool noodle so you can float and maneuver with ease. We especially liked using simple submerged chair type floats (shown below). We found large novelty floats and traditional floats too cumbersome in this setting. Mainly because they were a pain to maneuver, especially if there are a lot of swimmers around.
Sun Protection! Don’t let the 72 degree cool spring water fool you, you’ll get burned out there in a snap! Make sure you protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.
Waterproof! Waterproof phone cases will help you get those Insta-worthy pics without accidentally dropping your phone into the spring. Make sure you read the reviews and find a good one that won’t leak. Waterproof cases are also great for keeping important things like IDs and cash on you – and they come in really handy at traditional water parks too!
Snorkel! To truly experience the crystal clear waters of the springs, you might want a mask that allows you to see more. We love our panoramic mask (style pictured on the middle and left masks), because you can see more, and the breathing tube is attached to the top so you just breathe normally. The mask feels a little more comfortable too.