Looking for something unique to do in Ocala, Florida? Look no further than the stunning springs that dot the landscape of this beautiful region.
Whether you’re seeking an outdoor adventure or just a fun day trip from Gainesville, Tampa, or Orlando, Ocala has something to offer everyone.
Nestled in the heart of North Central Florida, Ocala spans over 600 square miles of pristine wilderness.
Here, you’ll find the Ocala National Forest, a breathtaking expanse of cypress-studded wetlands, densely wooded oak forests, and colorful pine groves.
It’s unlike any other evergreen forest you’ve ever seen! But what really sets Ocala apart are its stunning springs.
From crystal clear pools of water to rushing rivers and gentle streams, these natural wonders are the perfect place to swim, kayak, or simply relax and take in the scenery.
In this blog, we’ll take you on a tour of the 9 Prittest springs in Ocala National Forest, showcasing their unique beauty and the adventures they offer.
Best Springs in Ocala National Forest
Located at 13851 N Highway 19 Fort McCoy, FL 32134, Salt Spring in Ocala is a stunning spring nestled in the heart of the National Forest in Central Florida.
Its name may pique your curiosity – it’s called Salt Springs because of the high concentration of potassium, sodium, and magnesium in the water.
But don’t worry, the water is only slightly salty and won’t give you an “ewww” feeling like ocean water might.
During my visit in September, I was amazed to see blue crabs enjoying the 74-degree water alongside me.
If you’re searching for Ocala Manatee springs, Salt Springs is a great spot.
The water comes from deep underground, and from November to February, you may even spot manatees.
Take a manatee tour from Salt Spring Marina and Landing, or explore the area by canoe.
You can swim in the clear water pool surrounded by a concrete wall.
The water ranges from waist to chest-deep, and if you venture towards the spring vent, it gets deeper. Watch your step, as the rocks near the vent can be slippery.
If you’re camping, Salt Springs Campgrounds offer primitive campsites #128-137, but note that it’s a 5-10 minute walk from the swimming area.
Salt Springs also offers great facilities like grocery shops, restrooms, gas stations, a food truck, and more, making it the perfect spot for Ocala Springs Camping.
Just remember to wear water shoes and, if you’re not confident in swimming, rent a floating tube before jumping into the water.
For a fun adventure, consider hiking the Bear Swamp Trail loop. Salt Springs in Ocala National Forest is a true gem that should not be missed.
Fern Hammock Springs
Located in the Juniper Springs Recreation Area, Fern Hammock Springs is a stunning natural wonder in Central Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management area.
This second-magnitude spring boasts a beautiful pool that is 160 feet from east to west and 75 feet from north to south, with a depth ranging from 2 to 6 feet.
The wooden footbridge in the center adds to its charm, making it a perfect spot to capture beautiful pictures with friends.
Fern Hammock Springs is an environmentally sensitive area, so it is not allowed to swim or get into the springs.
The beauty of the area lies beneath the water with aquatic grasses, blue water, and sand, making it a breathtaking sight.
The spring’s bottom has over 25 sand boils, including a large 10-feet in diameter boil that is located under the footbridge.
This natural phenomenon is unique, as it’s not common to see such hot springs boiling in Ocala.
It is essential to remember that Fern Hammock Springs is home to alligators and snakes, and entering the area comes with a fee of $7 or $10, depending on the day you visit.
Remember that hunting season is from November to January, making it a perfect time to visit.
The Juniper Springs Nature Trail boardwalk around Juniper Springs and Fern Hammock Springs may be closed during your visit.
However, you can still hike the trail or try the longer hiking trails like The Florida Trail, Juniper Prairie Wilderness, or Farles Prairie for an adventurous day out.
|Also Read: 17 Best Places For Snorkeling In Florida|
If you’re looking for a beautiful and historic spring in Ocala National Forest, look no further than Juniper Springs.
This first-magnitude spring was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s and is one of the oldest and most famous springs in the area.
At Juniper Springs, you can enjoy crystal-clear, blue-tinted water that stays at a refreshing 72 degrees year-round.
The swimming area is 135 feet long by 80 feet wide and about knee-deep, making it perfect for swimming in the summer season.
One of the most unique features of Juniper Springs is the old mill house, which generates clean energy to keep the water clean.
This mill house generates an impressive 13 million gallons of natural spring water from the limestone caves underground.
It’s no wonder that Juniper Springs is a popular spot for snorkeling, with eel grass covering the swimming area.
For the full experience, rent canoe equipment starting at just $20 and explore the area by water.
If you’re looking to stay overnight, the campgrounds at Juniper Springs have been ranked as one of Reserve America’s Top 100 Family Campgrounds in the United States.
Just be sure to stay safe during your visit. While exploring the boardwalk behind the water mill, I spotted a black bear, so keep your distance and exercise caution.
Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures – you’ll want to remember this beautiful and historic spot for years to come!
Located in the Ocala National Forest at 49525 County Road 445, Alexander springs is a must-visit destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
With 67 campgrounds that accommodate both tents and RVs, Alexander Springs offers a rustic and close-to-nature experience.
With hot shower facilities, a dumping ground, and a snack store, you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay.
But the real draw of Alexander Springs is the natural beauty of the spring itself.
At 300 feet wide and with gentle slopes and shallow areas, it’s the perfect spot for soaking in the most pristine springs in North Central Florida near Orlando.
It’s a refreshing escape from the heat when it is a constant temperature of 72 degrees in the summer months.
Looking for more adventure? Alexander Springs is the only spring in Ocala that allows certified scuba divers to explore its depths.
With hiking, snorkeling, diving, scuba, and swimming all available, there’s something for everyone.
During my visit to Alexander Springs last year with my friend Kelvin, we hiked the Timucuan Trail and spotted cool mushrooms, spiders, trees, moss, and dragonflies.
The spring itself was a stunning shade of blue. While we had heard that there were alligators and snakes in the area, we didn’t spot any during our visit.
Note that there is an entrance fee of $6 per person on weekdays and $10 per person on weekends, and campsites charge $24 per night.
Welcome to Paradise Springs, located in Ocala, Florida, where you can experience one of the most unique and best springs in Ocala National Forest.
This sinkhole spring is renowned for its swimming and scuba diving opportunities, and it’s massive!
As you dive in, you’ll witness prehistoric fossils embedded in the cave walls, which offer a glimpse into the limestone’s history beneath the surface.
Paradise Springs is the perfect spot for experienced divers with scuba certification. It is rated 4.12 out of 5 for its offbeat diving experience.
The general public is not allowed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but you can visit from Wednesday through Sunday, from 8 am to 5 pm.
Upon entering, you’ll see a large tunnel down at a 90-degree angle, only open to open-water divers.
The water’s temperature is 72 degrees and crystal clear blue, and it’s also known as a “Karst Window,” which means a door opening to underground streams.
Divers must pay $30 in cash and book through the company 24 hours in advance, with at least five divers in their group.
The depth of the water is around 140 ft, and diving here is an adventure in itself.
Once you go down 99 feet, you won’t see any sunlight, and it’s pitch black.
Paradise Springs is not like any other spring.
It doesn’t have bubbling water, but it does offer a unique experience for those who want to explore the underground streams.
Scott Springs Park
Tucked away in Ocala, Florida, Scott Springs Park, 22-acre city park is a hidden gem that is often overlooked. Best of all, admission is completely free!
Unlike some of the more popular springs in the area, Scott Springs Park isn’t necessarily a spot for swimming or water activities.
Instead, it’s a place to enjoy a picnic lunch, take a leisurely stroll, or even get in a quick workout on the park’s exercise equipment.
There are plenty of amenities at the park, including picnic areas with grills and benches.
If you want to bring your furry friend along, you’re in luck – dogs are welcome at the park!
Just remember that swimming is not allowed.
Scott Springs Park is open every day of the year from 9 am to 7 pm, so it’s the perfect spot to stop by for an afternoon or evening getaway.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to read a book, take a bike ride, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of Florida, Scott Springs Park is a must-visit destination.
Silver Glen Springs
Located on the edge of the Big Scrub, this hidden gem is a must-visit spot for nature lovers.
With its deep blue spring vent, Silver Glen is one of the clearest and most beautiful springs in Ocala.
It offers a swimming spot with sandy bottoms, perfect for taking a refreshing dip in the cool water.
Just be aware that the water can be very deep in some places, so bringing your own raft or tube is recommended.
For those who prefer water activities, you can rent kayaks and canoe gear to explore the spring, or try non-motorized boating.
Snorkelers will also love the opportunity to spot manatees, tropical fish, and unique aquatic vegetation.
One of the best features of Silver Glen is its scenic surroundings.
The spring is shaded by tall palm trees, making it a great spot for taking incredible photos. However, boats are not allowed in the swimming area.
The park is open daily from 8:00 am to sundown, with a fee of $8 per person on weekdays and $11 per person on weekends.
Please note that the swimming area is not suitable for pets.
If you want to explore the area further, you can take a hike on the Lake George and Spring Boils trail, or visit Cracker Village at Silver River Museum to learn about the history of the area.
While at Silver Glen, be aware of wildlife such as alligators, black rat snakes, and monkeys.
Motion sickness sufferers should also avoid the Bottom Boat Tours due to sharp turns.
Don’t forget to check the park’s schedule for fun events like garden tours and music events before planning your visit.
Come and experience the beauty and tranquility of Silver Glen Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida.
Located in Dunnellon, FL, Rainbow Springs offers a breathtaking experience of canoeing through the crystal-clear sapphire blue waters and witnessing the beauty of “real Florida.”
Also known as Blue Springs, the swimming area at Rainbow Springs ranges from 5-18 feet deep, so it is recommended to wear a swimming jacket for safety.
Unlike other springs in Ocala, Rainbow Springs does not have one large bubbling spring.
Instead, there are several vents that produce 400-600 gallons of water per day, which then merge with the Withlocoochee River.
This makes it a perfect spot for tubing and snorkeling.
Rainbow Springs is 100 miles northwest of Orlando and is one of the best springs in Ocala.
The park is open from 8 am to sundown, providing ample time to explore and spot fish, turtles, and other tropical aquatic life.
For those interested in tubing, there is a shuttle service available for $20 that takes you to the lazy river.
Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the memories of this natural wonder!
The park fee is only $2, making it an affordable outing for the whole family.
Silver Springs State Park
Looking for a family-friendly park with plenty to see and do? Look no further than Silver Springs in Florida!
Open seven days a week from 8:00 am until sundown, this park offers something for everyone.
Explore the crystal-clear waters of Mammoth Spring aboard a glass bottom boat, a classic favorite since the park’s inception in the 1870s.
If you prefer to paddle, rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and enjoy the water at your own pace.
For land-lovers, Silver Springs offers hiking trails that are short and level enough for the whole family to enjoy.
You can also reserve a campsite to get up close and personal with the local wildlife, or tour the Silver River Museum to learn about the area’s history, archaeology, and paleontology.
Make sure to check out the recreated 19th-century Cracker Village and indulge in a delicious meal at the park’s restaurant.
Admission is just $2 for adults, and children five and under get in for free.
For more information and to plan your visit, check out their website at https://silversprings.com/ or call 352-261-5840.
|Read More: Florida’s Top 17 Beaches with Clearest Water|
17 Closest Beach Spots to Orlando You Should Visit
Escape from the hustle-bustle of daily life and rejuvenate your body and mind with the pristine and breathtakingly beautiful springs in Ocala National Forest.
A dip in the naturally-fed springs is not only refreshing but also incredibly healthy for your physical wellbeing.
For an unforgettable experience with Mother Nature, trust my list of the best springs in Ocala.
Don’t wait any longer to explore the wonders of Ocala’s natural springs!
FAQ On Springs in Ocala
Juniper Springs, located in Ocala National Forest, is the best spring in Ocala. The water is crystal clear and maintains a comfortable temperature in the 70s to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, providing the ideal environment to swim all day long.
Alexander Spring stands out as the top spring due to its wide expanse of water spanning over 300 feet. The crystal-clear water is a photographer’s paradise, making it an ideal spot to capture stunning pictures. The most noteworthy feature of Alexander Spring is its allowance for scuba diving, offering divers an opportunity to explore the underwater world.
Juniper Spring, one of the oldest and most beautiful springs in Ocala, is the perfect place to swim and refresh your senses. The water temperature stays in the comfortable 70s range, which is just right for a relaxing dip. With a maximum depth of 8 feet, it’s ideal for swimmers of all levels to safely enjoy a swim.