Florida in the United States, AKA the “Sunshine State” is known for its good weather, beautiful beaches, giant theme parks and trendy cities such as Miami. But Florida has much more to offer. In the central part you can still discover beautiful and less known places.
For many local tourists the Florida Springs, natural resources in central Florida, are a tourist attraction during the weekend. But these are often skipped or forgotten by foreign tourists. That is why I would like to generate enthusiasm about adding this destination to your itinerary when you travel to Florida.
Why visit Florida Springs?
Why should a trip to one or more of the many natural resources in Florida not be missing from your trip? In the first place, these are beautiful locations where you can soak up the authentic nature of the Deep South and even occasionally spot wildlife. Besides, it’s also a very nice trip for young and old, where water fun is guaranteed for the whole family!
Most of the springs are located north of Orlando. Depending on your destination or route you can choose a specific natural source. On this map you will find all sources with the corresponding location.
Before we started planning our “Deep South” road trip, there were a few locations that had been on our bucket list for quite a while. One of them was Ginnie Springs. I don’t really know exactly when or through whom I discovered this location on instagram, but when I saw it I was completely sold. I did some research on other well-known natural sources, which also looked great, but my decision was final. Ginnie Springs was my number 1 choice.
Our day in Ginnie Springs
The road to Ginnie Springs
Ginnie Springs is a more or less 2-hour drive from Orlando and a 1-hour drive from Micanopy where we stayed at The Herlong Mansion. We left early in the morning to visit the Ginnie springs. We wanted to be the first visitors with purpose of beautiful photography. When we arrived we had to wait till 8 AM till the park opened. We were greeted by an American tourist who was already in the parking lot as well. She assured us we would be amazed by the beautiful springs.
Renting equipment from Ginnie Springs
As we entered as first visitors we were quite stoked. We received a map of the domain and were amazed at how large it was. The domain consists of multiple natural sources that are connected to the Santa Fé river.
The employee explained us that we could drift down the river via a tube (donut-shaped air cushion) and reach the sources in this way. Jan and I looked at each other and immediately said wholeheartedly “yes”. We opted for a “couples tube” in which we could float in pairs. A day trip can also be a bit more romantic!
In Ginnie Springs you have the option of various water activities: from drifting down the river with a tube to paddle boarding, canoeing and even diving. If you don’t have enough time, you can also camp out in the park or rent a cottage for the night. We paid the entrance fee for 1 day and the rent of our “couples tube”. You can find more details about the prices and various activities on the website in great detail.
We went to collect our “couples tube” from the rental service by car. Not thinking about how big that thing was, we tried to put it in our trunk. That didn’t work at all. With the trunk open and half our tube hanging out of the car, we slowly drove to the first spring.
Exploring the Springs
We decided to discover all the springs first before tubing down the river. These are all accessible by car as well. Parking and sanitary facilities are provided at every spring. Now that it wasn’t busy yet, we eagerly made use of the time to take pictures of these gorgeous locations. We started with the most photographed and popular natural sources, Ginnie spring and Devil’s Eye. Two enchanting locations that really appeal to the imagination. Through the clear blue water you could see the bottom of the springs and even various cave entrances.
The springs are easily accessible everywhere by a pontoon with a wooden staircase. I carefully took the first steps in the water while Jan was already busy setting up the camera. The water was so cold. Even though it was already quite warm in the morning, I still had to bite the bullet to dive in from head to toe. Once in the water it was blissfully refreshing. After swimming a bit the cold feeling disappeared.
We soon realized that we weren’t alone, some curious squirrels came from their hiding place. The not-so-shy rodents were particularly interested in our equipment and backpack. Just in time we were able to save our camera that was standing on the tripod, from a fall. A squirrel was really eager to jump from its branch to this strange object. With large hand gestures and a lot of splashing, we were able to avoid this disaster.
The first visitors flocked in slowly. Especially people who stayed in the park itself or avid divers. Devil’s Eye is a very famous place among divers. A friendly and regular visitor pointed out that we had to keep an eye on our camera, because a lot gets stolen at busy times such as weekends.
Floating the tube trail
After photographing the first two springs, we frankly had enough. It was getting warmer and we just wanted to enjoy these beautiful places so we decided to start the tube trail. We drove by car, still with the half tube hanging from the trunk, to the starting point of the tube trail.
We saw families tie their tubes together, with even a few smaller tubes for a cooler. This was apparently not their first time. Jan and I hadn’t thought of taking anything to eat or drink. We really regretted that. With a little bit of jealousy we watched other tubers enjoying a snack and drink while floating downwards on the river. We quickly forgot our thirsty and hungry feeling while floating. We enjoyed the beautiful nature. The impressive trees on the banks that leaned over the river, the little turtles that were sunbathing on a tree stump, …
While floating we could enter the coves from the river and reach the springs. Of course this didn’t go without a struggle. Because the river ran downstream, we had to paddle to be able to turn. Of course we hadn’t thought of a paddle so one of us had to go into the water to push our tube while swimming. Jan sacrificed himself and I kept our backpack dry in exchange. Devil’s Eye and Ginnie Spring, that looked so serene that morning, were now brightly colored because of the many different types of tubes. It was difficult to find a way without bumping into other tubers with this crowd.
At the penultimate source “Dogwood spring” we were surprised again. This much smaller but certainly no less beautiful spring was much more quiet. We floated there for a moment just relaxing and enjoying the peaceful setting.
Returning equipment to Ginnie Springs
Once arrived at the end of the tube trail, we followed the path to the rental service. We delivered our tube here and hiked back along a well-marked road to the starting point of the tube trail, where our car was parked. We decided to return to Dogwood Spring by car to take another refreshing dip. Afterwards we enjoyed a nice late lunch at Ginnie’s grill.
A few more tips for a unforgetable trip to Ginnie Springs
The busiest days are during the weekend. If you don’t want to feel overwhelmed, try to go during the week.
If you go for the purpose of photography, go as early as possible. It is also best to go tubing in the morning. It is significantly busier in the afternoon.
Keep in mind that you have to pay an access fee and extra if you want to rent equipment. More info can be found on the website .
If you rent a ‘couples tube’, remember that it does not fit in a normal trunk.
Keep all your valuables close to you, don’t leave them unattended.
Do not leave food and garbage for squirrels and other animals.
Take something to drink and eat with you’re on the tube or buy something in a store on the domain before you leave.
Take a waterproof bag /barrel with you to store your valuables and towels while tubing.
We look back with great pleasure to this amazing day trip in Ginnie Springs. We would definitely recommend it to anyone. The springs are all stunning and situated in an enchanting, authentic natural environment. Tubing downstream the Santa Fé river was an unforgettable experience. In short, the perfect family activity for young and old with a great variety of activities, where both action and relaxation alternate.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about this topic, please leave a comment below.
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