5 Florida Springs in 5 Days

By: Kevin Mims

Got five days on your hands? Do what visitors to the Sunshine State and native Floridians have been doing for generations: spend time at a spring.

Freshwater springs are the ultimate year-round Florida attraction, and we've got more of these crystal-clear natural wonders than any other place in the country.

North and Central Florida have the highest concentrations of springs, making it super simple to create your own personalized trip, depending on your schedule and how much you have previously traveled in the area. If you haven't had the privilege of visiting many Florida springs in the past, here's a sample trip that follows a fairly linear route with a stop at a spring a day. Let's hit the road:

1. Wakulla Springs State Park 

Located just 15 minutes south of Tallahassee, Wakulla Springs State Park is the perfect northern anchor for a springs road trip.

For starters, this is the deepest freshwater spring in the world; don't miss a chance to perform your best cannonball from the swimming platform. History, nature and film buffs, if the scenery looks like something from a Tarzan movie, that's because it is. Wakulla Springs is the location of many Hollywood classics, including "Creature from the Black Lagoon." Be sure to take the famous river cruise while you’re there, too. Get more information here.

2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park 

If you've been in Florida for any length of time, this is probably the spring your parents told you about.

The head waters of Ichetucknee Springs

Photo: Peter W. Cross/VISIT FLORIDA

While there are several places around the state where you can take a tube trip, the Ichetucknee River rules them all. It's a no-frills, easygoing adventure that can be enjoyed by all, no matter if you’re 8 or 80. While there, hang out at headsprings and take the half-mile trail to Blue Hole Spring, another outstanding gem located in the park.

Trust me, this is Old Florida at its finest. See more at this website.

3. Fanning Springs State Park 

The next three stops happen right along scenic U.S. 19 along Florida's Nature Coast. Make a stop at Fanning Springs State Park for a relaxing afternoon of swimming and picnicking.

If you have a kayak, make sure to bring it along – Fanning Springs feeds the legendary Suwannee River, so you'll definitely want to spend some time paddling while you’re there. Alternatively, Manatee Springs State Park is located just a few miles north of Fanning Springs in Chiefland, so you have a couple of great options in this area

4. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 

Folks, this is manatee country. While you'll be out of the water at Homosassa Springs, you will be entertained by plenty of wildlife exhibits and attractions.

The observation and underwater viewing area at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

Photo: Bill Serne/VISIT FLORIDA

Make sure to visit with Lu the Hippo, one of Homosassa's most famous residents. So famous, in fact, that he was granted special Florida citizenship in 1991 by Gov. Lawton Chiles. You have another option for adventure at this stop in the trip – Crystal River's Three Sisters Springs, one of the most magnificent jewels in the state. In the winter, expect to see more manatees than you've most likely ever seen in once place. Most visitors access the spring by tour boat, kayak or paddleboard, but the new Three Sisters Springs boardwalk is open on a limited basis through River Ventures, a local concessionaire. Find more on the park here.

5. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park 

For the grand finale – or a grand start if you’re beginning your trip in the south – you'll be greeted by the world-famous mermaids who have made this spot loved by visitors from around the globe.

The mermaids have been delighting guests since 1947 and the tradition continues during several regular performances, 365 days a year. Also, in the summer months, hang out at the park's Buccaneer Bay attraction, with water slides and a white sandy beach that's perfect for getting the ultimate Florida tan. Round out the whole experience with a kayak trip on the Weeki Wachee River, one of the most scenic paddling trips found anywhere. No equipment needed – just head over to Paddling Adventures, the park's outfitter. Click here for more information.


Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners

More By kevin mims


You are signed in as:null
Type your comment here.
This a great informative site. Is there a brochure with this same information?
Hi KJ,
Thanks for reaching out.
To order VISIT FLORIDA Magazine, a free map and other publications, click here.
Sunny regards,
Where would my best bet for snorkeling and other inland water activities in dec and Jan? Between lake city and Tampa. Have a 12 year old that would love to try snorkeling. We have wetsuits.
Hi Jane,

Thanks for reaching out.

To give you a really good idea of your options, check out a map and
directions between the two destinations

and compare it with this map of Florida springs: Spring Locator Map -
Florida's Springs . The spring
locator is really useful and you can literally check out every option in
the state with it.

As you can see, most of your options will be in the northern part of the
range you mentioned.

I’d encourage you to explore the list and visit places that interest you
most, but a couple of springs that I personally like are:

Wekiwa Springs - Florida State Parks

Wakulla Springs - Florida State Parks

And I just remembered Crystal River and Three Sisters Springs. It’s the
only place in North America you can legally swim with wild manatees. I’ve
been three times and it’s *amazing*. The Top 10 Crystal River Tours -

Sunny regards,

Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA