We spent our first two full days in Florida exploring the many natural hot springs that Florida has to offer.
We found most of the areas by browsing Florida inspiration on Pinterest and seeing beautiful images of turquoise pools and those infamous manatees. I was actually really surprised by how unique each set of springs were.
We started off with Blue Spring State Park, as I had read that manatees flock here in the fall. We set off early to get there for opening time as I had read that there are often huge queues to get in to the park before it even opens. Maybe it was because we were travelling out of season (October), or because our sat nav decided to take us to a strange little back-road route, but we had no queues at all! We were one of a grand total of three cars in the car park, leading us to wonder if we actually had the right place.
Stumbling across this cutie, we knew that we were exactly where we wanted to be…
Unfortunately we didn’t actually see any real manatees here, but it was still beautiful. We even dipped a toe in the water which was really warm (I could have easily swam in it and I usually can’t stand anything cooler than bath temperature!). It was a bit too dark to get a good photograph of the swimming area but it was very blue, and perfectly still as nobody was in the water at 9am.
From here, we went on to Juniper Springs which was probably our favourite spring area. There is a big natural swimming pool near the entrance with a lovely scenic water mill (which again, we dipped our feet in but weren’t quite brave enough for a swim!). There is also a lovely walkway following a stream where you can hire canoes for a leisurely paddle, or you can follow the walkway on foot to a beautiful little secluded area with a bridge and more stunning natural springs. We had this whole area to ourselves which was lovely, and we could easily have spent a whole afternoon relaxing here.
We also saw lots of wildlife on our walk through here, with lizards, birds, butterflies and spiders (lots and lots of crazy-looking spiders!).
We then went on to Silver Springs State Park which was the most expensive of the springs we visited, but it was also the biggest and most built-up area so this was understandable. You can’t swim in the water here, but there is a glass-bottom boat which is the main attraction. We didn’t experience the boat ride, but we had a lovely time just relaxing and walking along the trails checking out the local flora.
We also got a yummy ice cream at one of the little shops here, and checked out the stunning local arts and crafts.
The following day we left early again and headed to Homosassa Springs, which is a type of wildlife park. We had a lovely time here checking out the animals they look after. We finally got to see manatees here so I was very happy! We saw one wild one out on the Homosassa River, but several inside the park by making use of their underwater observatory. They also had owls, wolves, eagles, falcons, alligators, a hippo, a bear and many others.
This was the first time I had seen alligators up close, and having never heard the noise an alligator makes before, I was genuinely quite spooked and certainly wouldn’t want to stumble across an angry wild one any time soon!
We spent a long time meandering around Homosassa Springs and had lunch here too. Our last spring stop was Rainbow Springs. Rainbow Springs had a certain quirky charm, although I felt it was slightly ruined by the fact that the swimming area was all set up with buoys and just wasn’t as natural and pretty as the others we had visited. I did however manage to get quite a pretty picture facing away from the swimming area.
And to be fair, at $2 entry each, this was the cheapest spring we visited and it did offer a pretty walking trail with more wildlife and some waterfalls so I think it was actually pretty good value for what we paid to get in.
Here’s our little video montage of the springs:
Which are your favourite Florida springs? Were there any fab ones that we missed?