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Five Fantastic North Florida Freshwater Spots

We all know how incredibly lucky we are to live in Florida. The weather, the people and the natural beauty are just the start of what makes this place so wonderful. When most folks think about outdoor activities in Florida they tend to focus on beach-going, boating and other coastal activities. Reflecting on this we have put together a list (in no particular order) of fantastic, freshwater funtime destinations where folks can enjoy swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, birdwatching, manatee spotting and so much more.         

  • Ginnie Springs

    Located on the Santa Fe River in High Springs Florida, Ginnie Springs is one of the clearest springs in Florida. The 72-degree water is perfect for river tubing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba and cave diving.

    Visitors to Ginnie Springs Outdoors can enjoy camping (wilderness sites or sites with electricity), an overnight rental cottage, picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, river tubing and volleyball. Groups and families alike enjoy Ginnie Springs Outdoors, making it the perfect Florida vacation!

    Under the surface is a spectacular underwater world with huge grottos, colorful fish, and millions of gallons of fresh water gushing from the Florida Aquifer. The 7 natural springs of Ginnie Springs Outdoors provides some of the best Florida scuba diving and PADI certification and training around. Our independent instructors specialize in open-water, cave, cavern, and advanced diving.

  • Poe Springs

    Poe Springs is just around the corner from the lively little town of High Springs, in Alachua County, just up the road from Gainesville. Poe Springs pumps an average of 45 million gallons of cool, refreshing water daily. Alachua County manages the park.

    The spring basin is accessible either from the Santa Fe River, or from a boardwalk 1,000 feet from the parking area. The basin is up to 25 feet deep. The vent entrance is about 2 feet by 3 feet, and the cave is about 13 feet long. The park boasts 202 acres filled with scenic woodlands and rolling fields, located along the banks of the Santa Fe River.

    The well-maintained park features covered picnic pavilions, a playground, a soccer and softball field, volleyball courts, and plenty of amenities for picnicking.

  • Manatee Springs

    The first-magnitude spring at this park produces an average of 100 million gallons of clear, cool water daily. In winter, West Indian manatees swim upriver to the warmer waters of the springs. Popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, the headwaters of the spring are also a great spot for swimming. The spring run forms a sparkling stream that meanders through hardwood wetlands to the Suwannee River. Canoe and kayaking is available all year round through our concessionaire, Anderson's Outdoor Adventures, LLC (link is external). Also Available, Anderson's Outdoor Adventures offers full service BBQ take out inside the park at the water front. Look for the giant smoker. Children enjoy the playground in the picnic area. Hiking and bicycling are available on the north end trail system. The full-facility campground is surrounded by red oak woods.

  • Ichetucknee Springs

    The crystalline Ichetucknee River flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River. In 1972, the head spring of the river was declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the premier activity in the area. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. October through March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole only (you must be cave certified). White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons can be seen from the river. Picnic areas, equipped with tables and grills, are available throughout the park. A full-service concession offers food, refreshments, and outdoor products from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park located four miles northwest of Fort White, off State Roads 47 and 238.

  • Blue Springs

    Blue Springs is a heavenly escape from everyday life and hurried vacations. Swim or float in a tube in the crystal-clear blue waters, walk the boardwalk along the spring run, canoe or kayak the Santa Fe River, and camp at their fully-equipped campground.

Erica Bales