Friends, it is most definitely tube time. Seriously, all my most recent trips have been at Florida springs, where I've been beating the warm temps by standing neck-deep in cold water for a couple of hours at a time. It works.
If you ready to kick off the summer the right way, it is mandatory that you add a tube trip to your list. Grabbing a tube and lazily floating down a crystal clear waterway is a time-honored tradition for Floridians, and there are several spots that are famous for the activity. Here are five of my favorites:
Ichetucknee Springs State Park - If you any one trip this summer, I think it should be to tube the Ichetucknee. Float times are taking up to three hours right now due to slow river flow, so be prepared to kick back and go with it. The scenery here is fantastic, and the headsprings look like something from a fairytale story. Bring your own tube, or rent one just outside the park's entrance. http://www.floridastateparks.org/ichetuckneesprings/
Rainbow Springs State Park - Ahh, the Rainbow River. Everything's good here, from the headsprings to the tube run. The tube launch is located over at the park's campground, so head there instead of the main entrance. Grab a tube from the concessionaire, hop aboard a tram and head upriver. From there, you'll float back to the take out point, bobbing slowly along one of the most amazing rivers in the state. http://www.floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings/
Rock Springs Run / Kelly Park - Not all tube trips require you to spend hours on the water. At Kelly Park in Apopka, you can tube down the short run from Rock Springs. Want to do it again? Grab your tube, walk back to the start, and keep on tubing until you've floated your troubles away. http://www.orangecountyfl.net/CultureParks/Parks.aspx?m=dtlvw&d=22#.U4pVmy9IsXw
Blue Spring State Park - Start your short tube trip near the spring boil, and float back down the run for a quarter mile. Just like Kelly Park, you can take your tube back to the start and do the whole thing all over again. Tubes are available at the concessionaire near the swimming area. http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/
Blackwater River / Coldwater Creek - Way up in Milton, you'll find beautiful Blackwater River State Park and Coldwater Creek. Both are excellent river for tubing, with a good current and lots of nice sandbars. Hook up with Adventures Unlimited for trips on Coldwater Creek, or several outfitters are located in the Blackwater State Forest. Good times.
Remember, these spots can and will fill up during the summer months. At these times, the tube runs will shut down until enough people come off of the water, so expect to wait a bit until this happens. Go as early as possible and beat the wait.