The Sunshine State is home to over 700 natural springs, and some of the best of them are just a short driving distance from Orlando.
Whether you’re looking to unwind in a sparkling oasis or embark on an outdoor adventure, here are four stunning Orlando-area freshwater springs where you can experience the natural marvels of Florida.
Hike, bike, or horseback ride your way along thirteen miles of flourishing trails, or grab a paddle and make your way through the winding bends of the spring, catching glimpses of gators and wildlife along the way. The crystal-clear trail ends in a wide, glistening pool, perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling or relaxing on a float. A few miles down the river, Wekiva Island brings the celebration to the river with shoreline bars, food trucks, cabanas and outdoor games like cornhole and volleyball.
Located in picturesque Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve joins the Wekiva River, but offers an entirely different experience. True to its name, the spring bubbles forth 37.4 million gallons of water a day from a 20-foot limestone cliff, producing a swiftly flowing stream that runs into lagoons and pools in the center of the park. Rent a tube and coast down the mile-long trail, admiring the barred owls, black bears, deer and Florida fauna along the ride. The popular destination is usually jam-packed by 10:00 am, so we suggest you get there early before it reaches capacity.
As the largest spring on the St. John’s River, Blue Springs is well-recognized for its beautiful translucent water, live oak trees leaning blissfully over the run and adorable manatee population (the designated Manatee Refuge houses hundreds of the gentle giants in the winter season). Viewing boardwalks and overlooks along the spring provide striking views of the awe-inspiring creatures. Boat tours, canoeing and kayaking, cabins and campgrounds, trails for hiking and underwater diving caves are just a few activities you won’t want to miss here.
De Leon Springs
Named after Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon, who is said to have passed through the area, these springs stay at a perfect 72 degrees year-round. Spot native wildlife like white-tailed deer, alligators, otters, turtles kingfishers and American bald eagles at this secluded park. Enjoy active relaxation with canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming, plus a hiking trail perfect for birdwatching (it’s a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail). And for breakfast, or after working up an appetite, dig in to pancakes cooked on tableside griddles at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant, located in the park.