When you think of Central Florida, your mind might initially drift towards the theme parks and lively tourist destinations that the region, particularly Orlando, is renowned for. However, beyond the thrill of roller coasters and the enchantment of world-class resorts, Central Florida also hides an extraordinary, lesser-known treasure – its beautiful, tranquil Florida springs.
Blessed with abundant natural beauty, these springs are a haven for those seeking relaxation, outdoor adventure, a paddleboard or kayak adventure, or simply a break from bustling city life.
Situated in the heart of this wonder, our vacation homes in Kissimmee and Davenport serve as the perfect base for your exploration. Both cities are conveniently nestled amidst these natural jewels, allowing you to experience Central Florida in a way few have before.
We will guide you through some of the best springs in the region. So, if you’re already staying in one of our comfortable, fully-equipped vacation homes or resorts, you’re about to uncover the magic of Central Florida that extends well beyond the theme parks. Let’s dive in!
Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Location: Apopka, FL
A mere hour’s drive from Kissimmee and Davenport, the Wekiwa Springs State Park is a stunning oasis in Apopka, Florida. This state park offers a striking display of nature’s charm with its clear, emerald waters and lush green landscapes. It’s an idyllic retreat for those seeking tranquility away from the thrill and buzz of theme parks.
At the heart of the park is the incredible Wekiwa Spring, a natural spring that pumps out an impressive 42 million gallons of crystal-clear water each day. The spring’s constant 72-degree water temperature invites swimmers year-round.
The Wekiwa Springs State Park follows the “Leave No Trace” mantra, encouraging visitors to respect the natural environment. Remember to pack your trash out with you.
Rainbow Springs State Park
- Location: Dunnellon, FL
Just under two hours drive from Kissimmee and Davenport, Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is Florida’s fourth largest spring, and it is truly a spectacle to behold. It’s an absolute must-visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the region’s natural beauty.
Rainbow Springs is renowned for its stunning, clear water that gushes from numerous vents, not just one single outlet. The spring’s environs are a lush paradise of blooming wildflowers, towering trees, and cascading waterfalls, offering visitors a chance to witness Central Florida’s native wildlife in its natural habitat.
The park is a hub for outdoor activities. You can dip into the cool spring waters, explore the scenic nature trails, or rent a canoe or kayak to paddle down the serene Rainbow River. Bird watching is also popular, with the park being home to various bird species.
When it comes to regulations, Rainbow Springs State Park encourages responsible enjoyment of its facilities. Swimming is allowed within designated areas only.
Blue Spring State Park
- Location: Orange City, FL
Just an hour’s drive from the vacation homes in Kissimmee and Davenport, you’ll find the enchanting Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. This hidden gem is best known as a winter refuge for West Indian Manatees, making it a unique destination for nature lovers.
Blue Spring boasts the largest spring on the St. Johns River and is a designated Manatee Refuge. During the winter months (mid-November through March), visitors are often treated to the sight of hundreds of manatees taking sanctuary in the spring’s warmer waters.
However, this park isn’t just about these gentle sea cows. When manatees aren’t present, the clear and cool spring run is a favorite spot for swimmers, snorkelers, and certified scuba divers.
The park offers much to explore beyond the spring, too. It features a well-maintained boardwalk that winds through a scenic floodplain forest, allowing visitors a close-up view of the local wildlife. Picnic areas, barbecue grills, and a children’s playground make it an ideal spot for family outings.
Visitor guidelines at Blue Spring State Park are geared towards preserving the natural habitat of the manatees and other wildlife. Pets are welcome in the park but are not allowed in the spring area.
Silver Springs State Park
- Location: Silver Springs, FL
- Website: silversprings.com
Positioned about an hour and a half drive from both Kissimmee and Davenport, the Silver Springs State Park is an iconic gem of Central Florida. Known as one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida, it’s home to one of the largest artesian springs in the world.
Silver Springs State Park is famous for its crystal-clear water and abundant wildlife, offering an immersive natural experience unlike any other. One of the park’s major attractions is its world-renowned glass-bottom boat tours, which have provided visitors with a unique perspective of the springs’ underwater life since the late 1800s.
Along with the boat tours, visitors can rent kayaks or canoes, explore walking trails, or enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature’s grandeur. Wildlife lovers will appreciate the park’s various habitats, home to an array of animals like alligators, turtles, and a plethora of bird species.
Visitors to Silver Springs State Park are encouraged to maintain the area’s natural beauty by following a few basic rules. While swimming is not permitted in the Silver Springs area, it’s allowed at the Headspring location. All pets must be on a leash and are not permitted on glass-bottom boat tours or in any buildings.
- Location: Ocala National Forest
- Website: fs.usda.gov
Nestled in the heart of the Ocala National Forest, about an hour and a half’s drive from both Kissimmee and Davenport, Juniper Springs is one of the oldest and best-known recreation areas on the East Coast.
Juniper Springs is renowned for its swimming hole, fed by hundreds of tiny bubbling freshwater springs. This natural pool, surrounded by a wall of native stones and palms, offers a delightful and refreshing swimming experience. The area’s highlight is undoubtedly the Juniper Springs Canoe Run, a seven-mile journey through a breathtaking subtropical wilderness.
Visitors can explore the numerous trails, including the Florida National Scenic Trail, which offers a glimpse into the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. With picnic tables, barbecue grills, and a visitor center, Juniper Springs provides the necessary amenities for a delightful day out in nature.
Swimming is permitted in the spring bowl, but not on the canoe run due to strong currents. Pets are not allowed within the recreation area, and it’s crucial to pack out any trash you generate.
De Leon Springs State Park
- Location: De Leon Springs State Park
A quick one-hour drive from Kissimmee and Davenport, De Leon Springs State Park is a charming spot where nature, history, and novelty meet. This park, located in the city of De Leon Springs, is not just a testament to the natural beauty of Central Florida but also an attraction with a unique dining experience.
Named after Ponce de Leon, De Leon Springs flows into a large swimming area with clear, cool waters that stay at a steady 72 degrees all year round. The spring is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on the sandy shore. For adventurers, the park offers kayaking and canoeing on the spring run and Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where a diverse range of wildlife can be spotted.
One of the park’s most beloved features is the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where guests can make their own pancakes at the table. This, combined with the scenic view of the park, makes for an unforgettable dining experience.
Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash and are not allowed in swimming areas or buildings. Glass and alcohol are prohibited within the park.
- Location: Ocala National Forest
- Website: fs.usda.gov/recarea/florida/recarea
Just under two hours away from Kissimmee and Davenport, Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest offers a picture-perfect example of a first-magnitude spring. As one of the easiest springs to access in the area, it’s an excellent choice for both seasoned spring-goers and those new to the experience.
This spring is a geological wonder, with water that emerges from the ground at a steady 72 degrees year-round. The swimming pool is crystal clear and gently sloping, allowing for both shallow wading and deeper swimming during the summer months. Surrounded by a subtropical forest and Cypress trees, Alexander Springs is a vibrant oasis for a wide array of plants and animals, making it a treat for nature enthusiasts.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and even scuba diving in the spring. Beyond the water, there are nature trails to hike, including a trail that winds through a hardwood forest and a canoe run that offers a scenic paddle down a meandering stream.
Swimming and diving are only allowed in designated areas, and all divers must be certified. Pets are welcome in the recreational area but must be leashed and are not allowed on the beach or in the water.
If you’re looking for even more of the most beautiful springs in Central Florida to spend your days, you can also check out the following:
- Three Sisters Springs
- Ichetucknee Springs
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- Silver Glen Springs
- Ginnie Springs
- Kelly Park
- Rock Springs
- Salt Springs
Dive into the Most Beautiful Springs in Central Florida
With its array of stunning springs, Central Florida offers visitors a chance to swap crowded tourist spots of Orlando and Disney for tranquil, scenic, and unforgettable experiences. From the manatee haven of Blue Spring State Park to the pancake novelty of De Leon Springs and the serene beauty of Wekiwa Springs, each spring offers its unique charm, creating memories to last a lifetime.
Conveniently located near our vacation homes in Kissimmee and Davenport, these springs provide the perfect opportunity to explore the heart of Florida’s nature while still enjoying the comfort of a luxurious vacation home or resort stay.