16 Hidden Gems: the Dreamiest Natural Springs in Florida

Leah Fishman

Forget everything you thought you knew about Florida. Over 700 natural springs pepper the north coasts and panhandle, offering up crystalline turquoise waters so pristine that its not uncommon to spot schools of fish or manatees swimming around your feet. Underground caves are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving, or grab a tube and float the day away (lazy river style) on the calm, cool rivers that connect spring to spring.

Tags: Off the beaten path

  • Blue Springs Park, United States

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    • leah

      If you're looking to see manatees, Blue Springs is your spot. One of the largest winter gathering sites for manatees in Florida, you can see hundreds(!) of manatees enjoying the 72-degree spring water in the winter months. Closed for swimming when in manatee season, but the boardwalk allows for viewing at a safe distance.

  • Rainbow Springs State Park, United States

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    • leah

      Rainbow Springs' cool, clear waters are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayakying, and paddling. Nearby nature trails offer leisurely strolls the park (complete with waterfalls) and a big lawn has plenty of space for frisbee and picnicking.

  • Salt Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Salt Springs is big, shallow, and brilliantly clear. While it's not fit for scuba diving (your feet will touch the ground in most areas), snorkeling is wildly encouraged, and on a good day you'll see hundreds of fish, schooled up and dashing around swimmers. Salt Springs has the largest campground in Ocala National Forest and is the perfect spot for a quick escape fro Orlando or Daytona Beach.

  • Ponce De Leon Springs State Park, United States

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    • leah

      Ponce De Leon Springs were named after... Juan Ponce de León...who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513, and, as legend has it, was in search of the "fountain of youth." I'm thinking that this is what he was looking for. This beautiful spring offers up 68 degree waters, two self-guided nature trails, and plenty of camping/picnicking.

  • Homosassa Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Homossassa Springs are beautiful, but they aren't the only attraction here. At Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, visitors might have the chance to spot the elusive Florida panther, red wolves, manatees, whooping cranes, black bears, bobcats and, of course, alligators a'plenty. Part part, part refuge, so you might spot some sanctuary animals in captivity (a heads just incase this isn't your jam!)

  • Devil's Den Prehistoric Spring, United States

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    • leah

      A prehistoric spring inside of a cave? Count. Me. In. Devil's Den is the go-to spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, filled with moody steam, and sits at a comfortable 72 degrees.

  • Crystal River, United States

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    • leah

      Accessible by kayak, canoe or paddle board from the boat launch at Hunter Springs Park. Because of lack of road access, Three Sisters is a true gem, and is a great place to spot to manatee watch in season.

  • Ginnie Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Folks, this is the one you've seen all over TikTok and Instagram. While the diving is insane, recent spikes in tourism mean that Ginnie isn't as clean, quiet and pristine as it once was. Don't skip it, but definitely plan to go early in the morning and actively avoid holidays and weekends.

  • Weeki Wachee, United States

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    • leah

      Definitely not a hidden gem (this place is built-up and touristy!), but great for kids and families. Attractions include an attached water park, mermaid shows, and boat tours.

  • Ichetucknee Springs, United States

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    • leah

      9 natural springs feed into the Ichetucknee River: a slow, gentle currant, perfect for tubing.

  • Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, United States

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    • leah

      Gilchrist is Florida's newest state park, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. With 5 springs (Gilchrist Blue, the main attraction, and nearby Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring and Johnson Spring for photo-ops and quick dips), there's plenty to see and do.

  • Madison Blue Spring State Park, United States

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    • leah

      For snorkelers and wildlife lovers, Madison Blue Spring promises glimpses of catfish, sunfish and freshwater turtles.

  • Juniper Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Juniper Sprigs is one of the oldest and best-known springs on the East Coast. While it might be the smallest of the springs in Ocala National Park, it's certainly one of the prettiest. The surrounding park is perfectly set up for overnights, with a pristine campground, picnic tables, and plenty of nearby hiking trails.

  • Silver Glen Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Another gem in Ocala Naitonal Forest. Locals claim that Silver Glen has the clearest spring water in Northern Florida, and I think I'm going to have to agree. When the sunshine hits perfectly, the water is so clear and bright that you can see rainbows shine across the spring floor. Perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

  • Alexander Springs, United States

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    • leah

      Tucked in the heart of the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is the perfect spot for camping, hiking canoeing, paddling, swimming and snorkeling. The springs' turquoise waters sit at a gentle 72 degrees year-round.

  • Rock Springs Kelly Park, United States

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    • leah

      A string of crystal-clear hot pools where the temperature is always a comfy cozy 68 degrees. Downstream there's a tube run that's about 3/4 miles long (it only takes 20 minutes, so definitely do it twice). Tubes are available to rent at the park.