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Fun 4 First Coast Kids Blog

Fun 4 First Coast Kids, the premiere resource of information of places to go and things to do with kids in the Jacksonville, Florida area.

Florida Springs: Day Trips From Jacksonville

We love heading out for a day trip to the springs! Pack a picnic lunch, bring your swim suits, and head out for an all natural, "Old Florida," adventure. Florida's springs are a magnificent display of our beautiful nature with trails, a spring hole, sometimes a river run or even a sink hole. The clear water allows you to see down into the open vent, a hole in the limestone layer, that leads to the Floridan aquifer where we get our drinking water. The water is completely clear so you can view fish and turtles, the sandy bottom and the swaying sea grasses. You can swim and walk, and enjoy the clean and refreshing 74 degree water year round. Springs are a great way to stay cool in summer! There are almost 40 major springs and hundreds of lower magnitude springs in Florida. There aren't any springs in Jacksonville because our soil layer is different than further west and south of us. But they aren't far away! Take a day trip to some of our closest springs-its a trip your family will never forget! Scroll down for the springs only a day trip from Jacksonville!

Devil's Hole Spring in Northwest Florida at the Ecofina Wildlife Management Area.

1. Suwannee Springs
Free Entry
1 hour 52 minutes, 111 Miles West of Jacksonville
9119 32nd Street
Live Oak, FL 32060

Suwannee Springs is owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The site of the spring is within an old 1800's bath house where visitors from up north would swim and be seen. You can swim, hike, kayak, and enjoy a picnic area at this historic spot.

2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
$6/vehicle up to 8 people, $5 tram ticket for tubing
1 hour, 22 minutes, 86 Miles Southwest of Jacksonville
12087 S.W. U.S. 27
Fort White, FL 32038

Ichetucknee Springs is the quintesential pasttime for northeast Florida residents. Grab a tube at a local shop on the way in (we love Adventure Outpost owned by our friend Lars Andersen who is also a local historian and nature tour guide) and relax with your family or group as you float down stream. View the turtles and fish in the deep spring run and view the overhanging trees and looming limestone as you watch birds fly overhead in this peaceful "Old Florida" river.

3. River Rise Preserve State Park
$5/vehicle up to 8 people
1 hour 25 minutes, 80 miles Southwest of Jacksonville
410 Southeast O'Leno Park Road
High Springs, FL 32643

This one is a Florida wonder. The Santa Fe River drops into a sink hole underground at O'Leno State Park near Gainesville, flows underground for three miles, then rises here at River Rise! This area is peaceful and amazing and a great way to get kids excited about geology! Fish, hike, and enjoy the views at this Florida State Park.

4. Poe Springs State Park
Free Entry
1 hour 32 minutes, 80 miles Southwest of Jacksonville
28800 Northwest 182nd Avenue
High Springs, FL 32643

Poe Springs is great for families. It has a playground, large field, picnic tables with shade, and steps leading to the spring. Take a boardwalk through the floodplain forest out to the spring. Swim in the spring hole and then walk out to the Santa Fe River. Kids will be amazed watching the crystal clear waters of the spring hit the rusty, tannin waters of the Santa Fe River as it flows by.

5. Blue Springs Gilchrist County
$10 adults, $5 kids age 5 - 12, Under 5 Free
1 hour 36 minutes, 82 miles Southwest of Jacksonville
7450 NE 60th Street
High Springs, FL 32643

Blue Springs is privately owned. It is a great spot for families as the spring hole area is large making lots of space for shallow areas for toddlers. Older kids can jump off a platform into a deeper area of the spring and those that don't want to swim can walk on a boardwalk that parallels the spring to see the open vent.

6. Ginnie Springs Outdoors
$13 adults, $3 ages 7 - 14, under 7 Free
1 hour 35 minutes, 83.3 miles Southwest of Jacksonville
5000 Northeast 60th Avenue
High Springs, FL 32643

A privately owned spring, it has a huge underwater cave system so it is popular for cave divers and snorkeling. Many enjoy camping at the park and tubing down the spring run.

7. Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Watchi Springs
$13 adults, $8 kids 6 - 12, kids 5 and under FREE
3 hours 5 minutes Southwest of Jacksonville
6131 Commercial Way
Spring Hill, FL 34606

Visit the mermaids in a submerged theatre, take a boat cruise, enjoy a canoe trip, or enjoy an animal show. Buccaneer Bay hosts water slides, white sandy beaches, and picnic pavilions in the only spring fed water park in Florida. What an amazing and affordable trip for families!!

Walking through the Santa Fe River that is fed by Poe Springs, northwest of Gainesville.

8. Salt Springs Recreation Area
Day Use: $5.50/person
1 hour 37 minutes, 82 miles South of Jacksonville
13851 N. Hwy 19
Salt Springs, FL 32134

Salt springs has a swimming hole, picnic tables and a large grassy area for picnics. Families will enjoy the walk down the hill to see the spring that has a sidewalk path around and bridge across to view the open vent.

9. Silver Glen Springs
Day Use: $5.50/person
1 hour 45 minutes, 97 miles South of Jacksonville
5301 North Highway 19
Ft. McCoy, Fl 32134

Silver Glen Springs has a swimming hole and a spring run. It is roped off as it leads out to the run so boaters can ride up to the spring and get out and relax or swim in the spring. Another beautiful area for swimming and staying cool in summer!

10. Juniper Springs Recreation Area
Day use: $5/person
1 hour 51 minutes, 111 miles South of Jacksonville
26701 East Highway 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488

Juniper Springs Recreation Area is owned and managed by the US Forest Service at the southern edge of Ocala National Forest. It has a spring hole and spring run that families can canoe down. It is an extremely difficult run as this is a preserve so when a tree falls, it must lay naturally, even if it blocks the run! Bond with your teenager on this complex run or enjoy swimming in the hole.

Suwannee River Spring Hole at Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park. The river behind it is wild and wonderful!

11. Alexander Springs Recreation Area
$5.50/person day use fee
2 hours 8 minutes, 108 miles South of Jacksonville
49525 County Road 445
Altoona, FL 32702

Alexander Springs is in the Ocala National Forest and is a large, first magnitude spring. Visitors can enjoy swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and paddling at this natural area.

12. De Leon Springs State Park
$6/vehicle up to 8 people
1 hour 39 minutes, 95 miles South of Jacksonville
601 Ponce deLeon Boulevard
De Leon Springs, FL 32130

De Leon Springs is more of a developed spring with paved path around, grass, sidewalks and pavilions, but it is beautiful none the less and has a whole host of history on site. It was used by the Native Americans, was home to a sugar mill, and now is home to a restaurant where diners design and cook their own pancakes at each table. Swim, canoe, snorkel, and paddle boat at this spring.

13. Blue Spring State Park
$6/vehicle up to 8 people
1 hour 47 minutes, 115 miles
2100 West French Avenue
Orange City, FL 32763

Blue Spring is on the St. Johns River and is one of the largest springs on the east coast river. It is well known for the manatees that take refuge in the spring and spring run during winter months when the spring water, 74 degrees year round, is warmer than the river. Enjoy swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, cabins, and more. View the manatee live web cam in winter months by clicking here.

14. Silver Springs State Park
$8/vehicle up to 8 people
1 hour 55 minutes, 102 Miles Southwest of Jacksonville
1425 NE 58th Avenue
Ocala, FL 34470

Silver Springs is known far and wide for its glass bottom boat rides and wild monkeys  that got loose while filming Tarzan and other movies in the 1930s. Enjoy hiking, a picnic area, and wildlife viewing along with the boat rides at this Florida State Park.

15. Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run
$5/vehicle for 3 - 8 people
This Orange County owned/managed public park is open for tubing, swimming and camping. It has a natural lazy river with large rocks covered in algae that can be seen through the clear waters. Enjoy a day of nature near Orlando in this fun and wild "Old Florida" spot!
2 hours 5 minutes from Jacksonville
400 E. Kelly Park Road
Apopka, FL 32712

16. Wekiva Falls Sulphur Springs
$25/vehicle (up to 6 guests)
This RV park is fun for the whole family! With sulphur springs, a fountain spraying water down, water slides, canoeing, and a sandy beach, kids and parents alike will enjoy their stay.
2 hours from Jacksonville
30700 Wekiva River Road
Sorrento, FL 32776

17. Rainbow Springs State Park
$5/vehicle, up to 8 people
This Florida State Park hosts Florida's 4th largest spring. The Rainbow River hosts snorkeling and swimming. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the spring head. The Rainbow Springs waterfall is found on the property during periods of high water during the rainy season.
2 hours 30 minutes southwest of Jacksonville
19158 SW 81st Place Rd.
Dunnellon, FL 34432

Manatees in from the ocean at Blue Springs State Park where the 74 degree waters are colder than the ocean! Photo cred: Fun4LakeKids

For all the springs in Jacksonville, you can find info on the Florida Springs website or the Florida State Parks website. We hope you enjoy a trip to a local spring! Share your photos with us by tagging #Fun4FirstCoastKidsSprings! Find more family fun at www.fun4firstcoastkids.com/calendar.

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About the Author: Terri Mashour worked in the field of land management for almost a decade at the St. Johns River Water Management District. She writes about springs, backcountry hikes, and her experiences as a woman in woods with cowboys, ranchers, snakes, and spiders in her first book: Backcountry Trails of Florida: Hiking Florida's Water Management Districts.

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Comments 11

 
Guest - Mary Ann Intravia on Saturday, 18 February 2017 17:20

Are any of these springs handicap accessible

Are any of these springs handicap accessible
Guest - Terri on Sunday, 19 February 2017 09:51

Mary Ann, Yes, many are handicapped accessible to get to the spring with boardwalks, ramps, and sidewalks to reach the springs. You can check the website above that has info on every spring in Florida to see which are handicapped accessible to get into the spring itself.

Mary Ann, Yes, many are handicapped accessible to get to the spring with boardwalks, ramps, and sidewalks to reach the springs. You can check the website above that has info on every spring in Florida to see which are handicapped accessible to get into the spring itself.
Guest - Pam on Sunday, 26 March 2017 21:09

Which one is closer from mayport?

Which one is closer from mayport?
Guest - terri on Saturday, 13 May 2017 15:07

All the distances are included above from Jacksonville.

All the distances are included above from Jacksonville.
Guest - Karen on Friday, 12 May 2017 14:37

What about alligators?

What about alligators?
Guest - Mecca on Tuesday, 16 May 2017 14:50

Alligators are inevitable. We swim with them all the time....they keep their distance.

Alligators are inevitable. We swim with them all the time....they keep their distance.
Guest - katrina,bremer @yahoo.com on Saturday, 13 May 2017 01:14

Wondering same alligators & sharks ,eals water mocossin?

Wondering same alligators & sharks ,eals water mocossin?
Guest - Lori T on Saturday, 13 May 2017 11:20

I was wondering about gators and snakes?

I was wondering about gators and snakes?
Guest - terri on Saturday, 13 May 2017 15:09

Yes, there are alligators and snakes! Usually they have swimming areas roped off and you can canoe on some springs so you are in a boat and staying away from them. Always be careful in Florida nature, we are wild here!!

Yes, there are alligators and snakes! Usually they have swimming areas roped off and you can canoe on some springs so you are in a boat and staying away from them. Always be careful in Florida nature, we are wild here!!
Guest - Betsy on Monday, 12 June 2017 14:40

Gators are fearful of humans...unless they are starving...the wildlife balance has to be correct ...also if a trouble Gator is spotted they are removed from that area...always remember there is a risk...it's their world...swim only in designated areas and don't stray from public areas....

Gators are fearful of humans...unless they are starving...the wildlife balance has to be correct ...also if a trouble Gator is spotted they are removed from that area...always remember there is a risk...it's their world...swim only in designated areas and don't stray from public areas....
Guest - Wendy on Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:04

Do any of the springs have camping areas or cabins?

Do any of the springs have camping areas or cabins?

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