Florida is home to the largest concentration of underground springs in the world, offering a wide variety of recreational opportunities such as swimming, scuba diving, paddle trails, camping, fishing and summer escapes.
It takes some chilly water to cool you off during a Florida summer day, but these spring-fed Florida rivers have that and more. These four springs are among the most beautiful spots in Florida and are ideal locations for tubing. They’re so popular, however, you need to do your homework before going.
All those “lazy river” water attractions at hotels and parks? They’re just trying to recreate the exhilarating experience of tubing the clear, wild Ichetucknee River in north central Florida. Try the real thing. Summer tubing season starts the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
For paddle boarding, it would be hard to find a better destination than Tampa Bay. In addition to beaches and bays, you can paddle amid mangrove islands, in tannic rivers with alligators and, within a two hour drive, one of the most spectacular clear spring runs in Florida.
Dunnellon is known for its spectacular Rainbow Springs and River, especially during tubing season. But there are more reasons to visit in cool weather, including another exquisite river– the Withlacoochee — several good restaurants, and trails for both hiking and biking.
The Weeki Wachee is being overwhelmed with visitors. It’s partly because of a viral video of people on SUPs watching a herd of manatees float by. But it is also because of this: It is SO BEAUTIFUL, as I was reminded when I paddled it last week.
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.
The Big Bend area of Florida around St. Marks and Wakulla Springs is rich in things to do and see: Kayaking, biking, historic sites, springs, lighthouses. Yet, it is a less visited area off the tourist trail.
Remote, rural and picturesque, northwest Florida rewards your long drive with sparkling springs, the beautiful Suwanee River and scenic rural roads. Two state parks with cabins and campgrounds make great bases to explore the region.
The new Silver Springs State Park near Ocala gives kayakers their first chance to launch at the famous springhead and paddle an exquisite waterway that has never been open to kayakers before.
Not all of Central Florida’s magic is at Disney. North of Orlando is a vast ecological preserve that offers an abundance of recreational opportunities with unique exposure to Florida’s great outdoors.