Rainbow Springs and the Rainbow River are among Florida’s top tubing and kayaking spots. People love this waterway because of the pure, clear water and the spectacular natural setting. In winter, it’s a peaceful place to kayak and perhaps see otters and birds. In summer, it’s full of tubes doing a four-hour float through a cool paradise.
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Kelly Park is best known for the hugely popular Rock Spring, but it also has one of the best campgrounds anywhere in the state. Summer visits require a bit of planning because of the crowds, especially on weekends.
The park is beautiful, and the paddling opportunities are numerous, but the campground is just fair. The spring is a great place to swim when you seek to escape the summer heat, but you can’t swim here in winter because its overrun by manatees seeking safe haven.
All those “lazy river” water attractions at hotels and parks are just trying to recreate the exhilarating experience of tubing the Ichetucknee River in north central Florida. Try the real thing, where you’ll float past pristine cypress forests and look into water so clear you can see a pebble on the river’s bottom through six or seven feet of water.