12 Natural Springs in Central Florida where you can go Swimming or Tubing

Florida Springs Tubing Swimming

If you’re looking for somewhere to cool off in the Florida heat, make plans to visit one of Florida’s springs to go swimming or tubing for a true Florida adventure.

Springs are naturally fed by fresh water from the Florida Aquifer. While springs offer many recreational opportunities to Floridians and visitors including swimming, tubing, diving, and kayaking, springs also support entire ecosystems with unique plants and animals and are a unique opportunity to experience wild Florida.

Most springs stay around 70-72 degrees year-round, providing a refreshing place to swim and float for a day of outdoor fun. While there are hundreds of springs spread across Florida, only a select number of them are open to the public for swimming. Below you’ll find swimming springs and tubing locations within a 2 hour drive of Lakeland, separated into places to go tubing in Central Florida and springs in Central Florida.

Prefer to cool off in a man-made swimming area? We can help you find pools and splash pads too.

Is kayaking in clear water more your style? We’ve also got a great list of canoe and kayak rentals and tours, including clear kayak tours that are especially amazing in the clear water of Florida’s springs. Many of the springs listed below also offer kayak rentals on site.

IMPORTANT – Many of these locations reach capacity quickly during the summer and on weekends. If you are planning a trip to any of Florida’s Springs, plan to go early.

Tubing in Florida

Kelly Park + Rock Springs

Described by some as a “natural lazy river,” Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park is a popular spot to cool off in Central Florida. Fed by a natural spring, the water is 68 degrees year round.

Tubing + Springs Details: While there are a few small areas where you can swim around, the main attraction at Kelly Park and Rock Springs is the tubing. Rock Springs Run is about ¾ of a mile, taking approximately 20-30 minutes to float down. Once you get out, you’ll take a 10-minute walk on a paved sidewalk back to the main park where you can get back in and take another float down Rock Springs Run!

Floats: There are no tube rentals inside the park. You can rent one from a vendor outside the park, but the easiest option is to bring your own tube or float that is less than 5’ tall/wide and your own air compressor.

Kelly Park Rock Springs Run Florida
Kelly Park – Rock Springs
Photo Credit: Orange County Parks

Capacity Limits: Each morning, 280 vehicles will be allowed entry, and an additional 50 vehicles are allowed in after 1 p.m. with an afternoon parking pass. You must get a voucher in the morning once the park hits the initial capacity to be able to gain access at the 1 p.m. re-open time. (The website says on a typical summer day, people line up very early and could reach capacity upon opening) Check the website or call 407-254-1906 for capacity info.
Other things to do at Kelly Park and Rock Springs: Hiking, Camping
Admission: $3 for 1 – 2 people, $5 for 3 – 8 people
Location: 400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712 – Kelly Park-Rock Springs is located north of Orlando, near Mt. Dora and Apopka (Be sure you are heading to Kelly Park. There is no swimming or access to the Wekiva River at Rock Springs Run State Reserve.)
Website | Facebook

Blue Spring State Park

There are two seasons at Blue Spring State Park – summer swimming and tubing season, and winter manatee season.

Swimming + Tubing – During the summer months, you can swim and tube at Blue Spring. Tube rentals are available through Blue Springs Adventures, walk-up only outside the Blue Spring Gift Locker/Canteen. You can enter the water at the upper entry, swim to the spring boil and float back down to the main swim dock. The float run lasts about an eighth of a mile, 15 minutes or so.

Blue Spring State Park Tubing Orlando Daytona
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Other things to do at Blue Springs State Park: Kayak & Canoe Rentals / Tours, Hiking, Camping, Scuba Diving, Segway Tours, St. Johns River Boat Tours (Book in advance through Blue Springs Adventures)
Manatee Season at Blue Springs State Park: From November through March, manatees seek warmer 72-degree spring water in Blue Spring State Park. You can observe manatees and other wildlife from beautiful scenic overlooks or take a boat tour on the St. Johns River. Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.
Capacity Info: Blue Spring State Park frequently reaches capacity during the week and on the weekends, during both the winter and summer months. To avoid waiting, please visit the park early.
Admission: $6 per vehicle, additional cost for tube rentals, kayaks
Location: 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763 – Blue Spring State Park is located between Orlando and Daytona Beach off I-4, near Deland and Sanford.
State Park Website | Tubing + Park Concessionaire Website | Facebook

Rainbow Springs State Park

On the site that was once a theme park in the 1930’s-70’s, visitors now enjoy the crystal clear waters of Rainbow Springs State Park as they swim in the spring, tube down the Rainbow River, and enjoy picnicking with friends and families.

Swimming – Rainbow Spring is known for its extraordinarily clear water and the headspring is open to swimmers. Be aware that other than a small wading area for toddlers, the water depth ranges from 5 to 18 feet deep so it isn’t ideal for families with younger children. Swimmers may wear life preservers or use noodles, but inflatables (tubes, floats) are not allowed in this area.

Snorkeling – Snorkeling is allowed in the headsprings is allowed and the crystal clear water means you can easily spot fish, turtles and other aquatic wildlife.

Tubing – Take a relaxing 1.5 to 2-hour tube ride down the Rainbow River. Tubing is available seasonally: Daily during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), and weekends in April, May, and September. Ages 5 & up. As of publishing, tubing is $22 per person including transportation. Currently they do not accept reservations, tubing is FCFS.

Rainbow Springs State Park Florida
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Other things to do at Rainbow Springs State Park: Camping, Kayak, Canoe, Paddleboard, Geocaching
Admission: $2 per person. Children under 6 are free. (Tubing is an additional cost)
Location: Dunnellon, FL 34432 – Rainbow Springs State Park is 23 miles west of Ocala, and 40 miles north of Brooksville.
IMPORTANT – Capacity Info + Access Points: Rainbow Springs has two separate areas of the state park for water access.
Headsprings Entrance (swimming and snorkeling): 19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432 – This entrance will close for the remainder of the day once the park reaches capacity. It is not one in, one out, so be sure if you are going with friends, you all arrive together. Note that Rainbow Springs has very high visitation on weekends and holidays.
Tubing Entrance: 10830 SW 180th Ave. Rd. – The tubing area has limited parking, once the lot is full the tubing entrance is closed until cars leave. Once 10 cars leave, 10 cars are allowed in. Weekdays are much less crowded and may not hit capacity, weekend usually hits capacity between 9am-10am.
Website | Facebook

Ginnie Springs

This privately owned nature park is a slice of pure Florida with seven springs that are a refreshing 72 degrees year round. You can explore the park on innertubes, kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes, or explore underwater as you dive and snorkel.

Tubing – Take a lazy tube ride down the Santa Fe river with friends or family. Most guests enter the water at the Beaver’s Landing river access point, spend an hour or so floating down the river to the Tube Exit at Twin Spring, then take a 15 minute walk back to the Ginnie Spring parking lot. You can bring your own (air fill station available) or rent a tube at the park. Note that part of the time you are tubing on a river, not in the springs, so the water may be murkier and deeper in spots.

Swimming + Snorkeling – You can swim or snorkel in the seven springs located on the Ginnie Springs property. You can also swim and snorkel in the river, some guests even jump in while tubing. Masks, fins, and snorkels are available for rent, plus you’ll need a dive flag if you snorkel in the river.

Other things to do at Ginnie Springs: Camping, Canoe, Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) on the Santa Fe River. You can bring your own or rent one at the park.
Admission: As of publishing, admission is $15-20 for adults, $5 for children 5-12, and free for 4 & under
Location: 5000 NE 60th Ave, High Springs, FL 32643 – Ginnie Springs is about 30 miles northwest of Gainesville
Website | Facebook

Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Although it is a full day trip from Central Florida (2.5-3 hours from Lakeland), the Ichetucknee is often considered the best place for tubing in Florida, so we couldn’t leave it off this list! {If you’ve ever been tubing in North Carolina or Georgia, this is the closest tubing experience in Florida}

Tubing – Tube the Ichetucknee River on your choice of a 45 minute or 1.5 hour float trip. Visitors are welcome to bring their own tubes or rent from outside vendors, but the most convenient option is to rent from Paddling Adventures, the park concessionaire, a concierge tubing and paddling rental service with convenient services such as equipment and parking reservations and shuttles. If you bring your own tube, it cannot exceed 60 inches in any two directions.

Tubing Reservations at Ichetucknee – Due to volume, reservations for Midpoint Launch and Dampier’s Landing are not available between Memorial Weekend and Labor Day. During this time, tube rentals are first come, first served. Limit of 3,000 tubers per day from the Midpoint launch, which is the longer tube ride. You will also want to purchase tram transportation wristbands to get back to the parking lot when you are done tubing. Park at the South Entrance for Tubing.

Ichetucknee Springs Tubing
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Swimming – Swimming and snorkeling are allowed every day of the year from 8 a.m. until sundown. Ichetucknee Spring (Head Spring) has shallow edges, picnic tables and a seasonal food truck nearby make it a perfect place to spend the day.
Blue Hole spring is also a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, it is a ½ mile walk to access. {Blue Hole Spring should be used by experienced swimmers only, due to the depth and strong current} If you are going swimming you will need to use the North Entrance.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park Swimming Area
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Other things to do at Ichetucknee Springs State Park: Hiking, Kayaking, Canoeing, Geocaching, Scuba Diving
Admission: $6 per vehicle, additional cost for tubing, rentals, transportation
Location: 12087 SW U.S. Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038 – Ichetucknee Springs State Park is about 40 miles northwest of Gainesville, FL.
State Park Website | Tubing + Concessionaire Website

Springs in Florida for Swimming

Lithia Springs Park

Looking for a swimming spring near Lakeland, FL? This spring is the closest to us at just 30-45 minutes from Lakeland. The large swimming area has a beach on one end, a sandy bottom, and most areas are shallow enough to stand up, making it a great place for families to cool off and swim in this salt-free, natural pool. Lithia Springs Park is operated by Hillsborough County.

Lithia Springs Tampa FL
Photo Credit: Hillsborough County Parks

✦ Capacity Info: Swim times will be divided into two, four-hour time slots (9am – 1pm and 2pm – 6pm) with a maximum capacity of 200 swimmers during each time slot. You can check current capacity on the website, weekends frequently reach capacity.
Floats: Arm floaties/life vests are allowed in all parts of the spring. Round rings and blow up toys are allowed in the shallow areas. No flotation devices in the deep end.
Other things to do at Lithia Springs Park: Playground, Volleyball Court, Hiking
Admission: $2 per vehicle plus $2 per person to enter the swimming area (adult must also purchase a wristband even if they are not swimming to supervise the children under 12)
Location: 3932 Lithia Springs Rd, Lithia, FL 33547 – Lithia Springs Park is south of Plant City, southeast of Tampa and southwest from Lakeland
Website | Facebook

De Leon Springs State Park

Once called Acuera, or “Healing Waters,” by Mayaca Indians who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago, you too will feel refreshed and restored after you spend the day outdoors at De Leon Springs. After you make your own pancakes at the famous Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, you can take a swim in the 72 degree spring-fed swimming area, go hiking, bird watching, book a eco/history boat tour, and learn about the history of the park.

Swimming + Snorkeling – Swimming is permitted from 8 a.m. until a half-hour before sunset (park closing). The swimming area is a constant 72 degrees, and depths range from 18 inches to 30 feet at the spring boil. The circular swimming area is surrounded by a grassy area where families can lay out a blanket and relax. Snorkeling is permitted in the swimming area.

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant – Cook-your-own pancakes right at the table and enjoy freshly made bread and cookies. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays, serving until 4 p.m. Visit the Sugar Mill Restaurant website for more info.

Boat Tour – The Fountain of Youth Eco/Heritage tour aboard the M/V Acuera, departing four times daily, is a 50-minute trip through De Leon Springs State Park and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. Check the website for current boat tour prices.

DeLeon Springs State Park Swimming Area
Photo Credit: Florida State Parks

Floats: Floats and rafts are allowed in the swimming area, size limit of 5 feet for a circle or 4 feet by 6 feet for a rectangle
Other things to Do at De Leon Springs State Park: Canoe & Kayak Rentals, Hiking, Fishing, Bird Watching
Location: 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd., De Leon Springs, FL 32130 – De Leon Springs State Park is near DeLand, approximately 30 miles west of Daytona Beach, an hour north of Orlando.
Admission: $6 per vehicle, additional cost for restaurant, boat tours, rentals
Website | Facebook

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Take a swim in crystal-clear Wekiwa Springs where the water is a refreshing 72 degrees year-round. A large grassy lawn surrounds the swimming area, perfect for a picnic or afternoon nap in the sun. You can bring your own tube or float, individual size flotation devices are allowed in the swimming area.

Capacity Limits: Wekiwa Springs State Park reaches capacity during the week and on the weekends during the summer months. To avoid waiting, visit the park early.
Other things to do at Wekiwa Springs State Park: Hiking, Canoe + Kayak
Admission: $6 per vehicle
Location: 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka FL 32712 – Wekiwa Springs is north of Orlando, near Mt. Dora and Apopka
Website

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

On a visit to Weeki Wachee, you can experience true old Florida tourism as you watch the world-famous underwater mermaid show, take a riverboat “jungle” cruise, and swim in the spring fed waters of Buccaneer Bay water park. (The history of Weeki Wachee is truly fascinating!)

Things to do at Weeki Wachee:
Mermaid Shows – Take a seat in the submerged 400 seat auditorium and watch as put on a full underwater performance. Mermaid shows are scheduled multiple times during the day, check the current schedule for times. (NOTE – mermaid shows are subject to cancellation based on cold temperatures and inclement weather, thunderstorms are more likely later in the day so go early if this is important to you!)
The first mermaid show at Weeki Wachee was in 1947

Wilderness River Cruise – Boat cruises run daily, first come first served, included with admission. Check the current schedule for boat hours.

Buccaneer Bay Water Park – Located inside Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, this waterpark is unlike any other in Florida! Three of the four thrilling slides drop you off in natural Weeki Wachee Springs for a chilling yet refreshing splash into the 72 degree water. The water park area also includes a sandy beach area with beach chairs, a Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove water play area for ages 6 and under, and a concession stand. The minimum height for slides is 42″ and 48″.

Swimming and snorkeling – Even if water slides aren’t your thing, you can still take a swim in Weeki Wachee spring, Florida’s natural swimming pool! You can also rent a tube and take a short float on the lazy river.

Other important information for visiting Weeki Wachee:

  • You can bring your own beach chair and umbrella but must check with lifeguards before setting up umbrellas for visibility
  • You can bring in coolers but no glass or alcohol.
  • Admission, mermaid shows, and boat rides are all first come first served, no reservations are available.
  • The only floatation devices allowed are to assist children with swimming. You cannot bring tubes and floats into the park.
  • There are no refunds due to inclement weather or show cancellations, plan accordingly.

✦ Capacity Info: During the busy summer months, the park often reaches capacity. We highly recommend arriving before the park opens on the weekdays, and earlier on the weekends. Once the park is full, no more admission tickets are sold for the remainder of the day. {Speaking from experience, you’ll wait in an entry line out in the sun, so plan accordingly}
Admission: $13 for adults, $8 for children ages 6 to 12. Ages 5 and under are free.
Location: 6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, FL 34606 – Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is 50+ miles north of Tampa, due west of Brooksville.
Website | Facebook

Alexander Springs Recreation Area – Ocala National Forest

You’ll feel like you’re somewhere tropical as you swim in this spring surrounded by subtropical vegetation. A spacious green lawn surrounds the beach area, perfect for a picnic lunch or an afternoon nap in the sun. The lake-like swimming area has a soft sandy bottom and crystal clear water, excellent for snorkeling to see fish and freshwater marine life. A lifeguard is on duty 7 days a week during the summer months.

Alexander Springs Swimming Area
Photo Credit: Adventure Ocala

Other things to do at Alexander Springs: Hiking, Canoe + Kayak, Camping, Scuba Diving
Admission: Weekdays $8, Weekends $11 (prices per person plus tax, check website for current prices)
Location: 49525 CR 445, Altoona, FL – Located east of Ocala in the Ocala National Forest
Adventure Ocala Website | USDA Website | Facebook

Juniper Springs Recreation Area – Ocala National Forest

One of the oldest and best-known National Forest recreation areas in the eastern United States, Juniper Springs Recreation Area includes a millhouse with a working water wheel on a crystal clear spring and 100 foot wide freshwater spring surrounded by a stone wall. Dense foliage surrounds the swimming area, providing shade and a tropical swimming experience. The “swimming pool” is too deep to stand in most places, but tubes and floats are allowed. Don’t miss the jumping platform!

Juniper Springs Swimming Area
Photo Credit: Adventure Ocala

Other things to do at Juniper Springs: Hiking, Canoe + Kayak, Camping
Admission: Weekdays $8, Weekends $11 (prices per person plus tax, check website for current prices)
Location: 26701 State Road 40, Silver Springs, FL – Juniper Springs is 30 miles east of Ocala and 60 miles north/northwest of Orlando
Adventure Ocala Website | USDA Website | Facebook

Silver Glen Springs – Ocala National Forest

Often described as the most beautiful spring in the Ocala National Forest, you’ll experience constant 73°F crystal-clear water at the popular swimming hole. Bring your snorkel to fully experience the beauty of Silver Glen Springs. Also an important archeological site where you can see middens, large mounds that were part of this village site for Native Americans.

Juniper Springs Swimming Area
Photo Credit: Adventure Ocala

Capacity Info: The gate to Silver Glen Springs will only open twice per day – at 8am until full, and again at 2pm until full. Parking along the road is not allowed. Check the Facebook page for updates on capacity closures.
Admission: Weekdays $8, Weekends $11 (prices per person plus tax, check website for current prices)
Location: 13851 North Highway 19, Salt Springs, FL – Salt Springs Recreation Area is 30 miles northeast of Ocala
Adventure Ocala Website | USDA Website | Facebook

Ocala National Forest – Salt Springs Recreation Area

Swimmers can enjoy the clear waters of Salt Springs Run nearest its source at Salt Springs. The swimming area is surrounded by a cement wall with stairs to enter the water. Much of the area is shallow enough to stand, but you’ll want to bring a mask and snorkel to enjoy the abundance of fish and marine life underwater. (Despite the name, this is still a fresh water spring, not salt water).

Admission: Weekdays $8, Weekends $11 (prices per person plus tax, check website for current prices)
Location: 13851 North Highway 19, Salt Springs, FL – Salt Springs Recreation Area is 30 miles northeast of Ocala
Website

Florida Springs Map

Use this map to find Florida springs near you. Blue splash icons indicate springs where you can go swimming, red tube icons are springs where you can go tubing and swimming.

Tips for Tubing in Florida or visiting Springs in Florida

  • Do your research. Most springs and tubing locations have regulations about float sizes, coolers, alcohol, glass containers, pets, etc. Rules are strictly enforced to protect these beautiful springs for future generations to enjoy. Links are provided here for every location, but a quick search will also pull up many articles from travelers who have covered each of these springs extensively.
  • Pack as much as you can the night before. An early start will give you the best chance to get into the springs before they reach capacity.
  • Be flexible! These are outdoor activities that are weather dependent.
  • Expect wildlife. While all of these areas are heavily trafficked, they are still natural areas where you may spot alligators, snakes, and other animals in the water or on the banks. They don’t typically interact with people, especially if you leave them alone.
  • Make your kids wear a life jacket if it will give you peace of mind (or is required).

Things to take with you:

  • Water shoes / shoes you don’t mind getting wet (these aren’t required but many spring areas can be slippery or have rocky bottoms)
  • Change of clothes
  • Tennis shoes / regular shoes for exploring
  • Floats (unless renting), air compressor or pump
  • Life Jackets for children
  • Rope or string to tie floats together, especially helpful if you have kids and want to stay together
  • Towels
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Sunscreen & lip balm
  • Bug Spray
  • Water
  • Food and drinks
  • Dry bag for phone, car remote, etc.
  • A sense of adventure!!

Outdoor Fun Guide

Check out our full Outdoor Fun Guide for more outdoor things to do in Lakeland, Polk County, and Central Florida.