In the height of summer, Florida can get seriously hot. As the temperatures rise, native Floridians and tourists alike look for the best way to cool off and beat the heat. In Florida, in the summer, nothing beats a dip in a crystal clear, natural spring to provide a break from the baking heat, and the most fun to be had at a natural spring comes from gently drifting downstream on an inner tube.
Although Floridians are blessed with a huge variety of outdoor activities, river tubing in Florida is hard to beat. It is hard to think of a more relaxing way to spend an afternoon than floating peacefully on an inner tube surrounded by the stunning beauty of a Florida state park. Tubing in Florida springs is a chilled out way to explore the natural beauty of some of the most scenic places in this great state.
Florida has over 900 beautiful natural springs, one of the largest concentrations of freshwater springs and aquifers in the whole world, and over 40 of them are open to the public. North Florida and Columbia County, in particular, have some of the most beautiful springs, and the ones most suited for tubing! Read on for our picks and suggestions for the best springs for tubing in Florida.
Ichetucknee Springs, Fort White
Ichetucknee Springs State Park near Fort White in Columbia County is considered the best tubing destination in North Florida, and probably in the entire Sunshine State. Only two and a half hours from Orlando, Ichetucknee’s nine springs are absolutely perfect for wiling away a sunny summer day. The water is a constant 72 degrees, and completely clear all the way down, meaning you can keep an eye out for fish and turtles as well.
Snorkeling and scuba diving
Cave diving at Blue Hole Spring
- $6 per car
- $5 for tram service
- $7 for shuttle service
Location: Ichetucknee Springs State Park, 12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038
Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon
Rainbow Springs State Park is steeped in history. One of Florida’s most beautiful first-magnitude springs, Rainbow Springs slowly developed from phosphate pits to a gorgeous area of outstanding natural beauty throughout the 20th century. Recent discoveries have shown that people have been coming to this spot to enjoy the cool waters for nearly 10,000 years, and it is not hard to see why!
While tubing is not allowed in the main headsprings of the park, there is a separate entrance for tube launches, about nine miles from the main entrance to the springs. Tubes are available for rent inside, and the lazy river ride lasts around two hours.
- Park entry $2 per person or $5 per vehicle
- Tube hire $20
Location: Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Blue Springs State Park, Orange City
Blue Springs State Park is a pretty special spot, the largest spring on the St Johns River, and the home to a mysterious and beautiful manatee population. The State Park is gorgeous, with classic ‘Old Florida’ scenery, while the Blue Spring itself has a constant ‘boil’ of air bubbles which makes it a superb place for a swim.
The tubing run in Blue Springs is short, just an eighth of a mile, from the upper entry gravel bank past the spring boil and down to the main swim dock. However, the beauty of Blue Springs is such that even this short trek is well worth it, and is a lovely addition to a day of snorkeling, diving, or manatee watching in the mainspring.
- Wildlife watching
- Cave diving
- $6 per vehicle
Kelly Park, Apopka
Kelly Park is a haven for nature lovers and boasts one of the best short tubing runs in North Florida. The park is full of wildlife, from alligators and turtles to birds, otters, and even (on rare occasions) monkeys, and plenty of people come here to launch kayaks from Kings Landing and explore the natural world around them.
Rock Springs Run is a fast-flowing, three-quarters of a mile-long stretch of water that joins with the Wekiwa Springs to form the headwaters of the Wekiva River, and is an immensely popular spot for river tubing in Florida. You can rent tubes along the roadside before entering the park, or feel free to bring your own.
- Wildlife watching
- Off-road bicycling
- Horseback riding
- Park entry $3-5 per vehicle
- Tube rental $7
Location: Kelly Park, 400 E Kelly Park Road, Apopka, FL 32712
Ginnie Springs is a beautiful spot on the Santa Fe River, and a real local favorite. Located in High Springs, Ginnie Springs is a slice of pure Florida, with incredibly clear waters and a fantastic range of activities for families.
The tubing run at Ginnie Springs stretches along the Santa Fe River from Devil’s Spring to Twin Spring and takes about an hour. The waters are calm and tranquil, and the float is a wonderfully relaxing experience. This is one of the few tubing runs that offer free air stations throughout the park to refill your tube, and it is also one of the only springs that allows alcoholic beverages while tubing, which can make the crowd on weekends a little more boisterous than at other places!
- Canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding
- General admission $14
- Dive pass $22-30
- Camping $22
Location: Ginnie Springs, 7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, FL 32643
Wakulla Springs State Park
The first magnitude Wakulla Springs is the source of the majestic Wakulla River, and one of the deepest and biggest freshwater springs in the world! Wakulla Springs is a pretty fascinating spot to explore, with a vast array of wildlife to discover, and some brilliant outdoor adventures to take part in such as a jumping tower, a jungle cruise, and a 1930s revival hotel and lodge for overnight stays. They even discovered the remains of a prehistoric mastodon at the bottom of one of the springs!
You can float freely on a tube at the giant swimming hole near the main Wakulla Spring, or take to the river and enjoy a leisurely drift downstream, taking in the dramatic jungle scenery (where Tarzan was filmed!) as you go.
- Park entry $6 per vehicle
- Glass bottom boat tours $8
Location: Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, 465 Wakulla Park Dr., Wakulla Springs FL 32327
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is 250 acres of secluded oak forest tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Florida. The park contains a selection of natural springs, a spring run to the Santa Fe River, and some significant ecological habitats which create an incredible diversity of wildlife.
Tubing options here are on the relaxed side, with the possibility of taking the spring run or floating down the Santa Fe River itself.
- Park entry $4-6 per vehicle
Location: Ruth B Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, 7450 NE 60th St, High Springs FL 32643