Our state’s beaches definitely encourage splish-and-splash fun with opportunities to surf, boogie board and more in the ocean waves. But, nothing will float your boat with your favorite date night mate quite like tubing. Explore Florida’s waterways by hopping into a tube to drift alongside your partner.
Here are our picks for the best places to go tubing in Florida:
Florida has one of the largest concentrations of natural springs in the world. In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the Sunshine State boasts more than 900 natural springs. About 40 are open to the public and, yes, a tube can make for a great exploration vessel.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park | Fort White
Considered the crown jewel of tubing destinations, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is located about 2 ½ hours northwest of Orlando, just beyond Alachua. Ichetucknee is actually a cluster of nine springs that collectively gush well over 200 million gallons of brisk water every day. Named as a National Natural Landmark, archaeologists discovered two Indian mounds and a village site on the grounds. But you’re reading this blog to learn why Ichetucknee will make for a historic tubing date night…
The 72-degree spring-fed water is crystal clear so you can see all the way down to the white sandy bottom. You’ll discover fish, turtles and more. Ichetucknee Springs is described as a peaceful place where stress simply drifts away. To experience it, bring your own tube or rent one from either the park stand or an outside vendor. Head to the north end tube launch (opens Memorial Day weekend for the season) to embark on a 3 ½ hour journey, or the south end (accessible year-round) for shorter treks. While swimmers, kayakers and canoers all coast along, it’s sort of understood that tubers have the right of way.
Other park amenities include:
- Hiking trails
- Snorkeling and scuba diving
- Cave diving at Blue Hole Spring (here’s a map)
FYI: the park limits the number of daily visitors (so arrive early) and imported items, i.e. potential trash such as food and disposables.
Park entry: $6 per car; plus an option for $5 tram service or $7 shuttle service
Blue Spring State Park | Orange City
Less than an hour from Orlando, Blue Spring is the largest spring on the St. John’s River, spewing 104 million gallons of water every day. The stunning 73°F waterway is famous for its population of manatees which migrate south during the winter.
Outdoor enthusiasts can rent tubes and launch off of a gravel bank. Florida State Parks suggests you “enter the water at the upper entry, swim to the spring boil and float back down to the main swim dock.” The float run is just an eighth of a mile.
You may also want to dive within the circular spring to explore the vertical cave; tour the Thursby House, built by Louis Thursby in 1872 and once a hub for steamboat passengers; take a boat cruise on the St. John’s River; and enjoy a plethora of park amenities, such as birding and hiking. Rest up overnight in a cabin or tent.
Park entry: $6 per vehicle
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park | Apopka
Located right in Seminole County, consider Kelly Park your tubing home-turf! Wekiwa Springs converges with Rock Springs, a crater-edged creek within Kelly Park, to form the headwaters of the 17-mile-long Wekiva River leading to the St. Johns River. Rock Springs Run is a brisk 67°F stream adored by tubers and kayakers. Be sure to bring your own float or rent one at the roadside concession before entering the park. It’s okay to use a pool noodle or float less than 5 feet in length.
You can also launch a canoe or kayak from Kings Landing to twist your way amongst alligators, birds, turtles, otters and rarely-seen monkeys. Like Orlando-area theme parks, Kelly Park can get packed, so arrive early before park capacity is met.
This State Preserve also has off-road bicycling, hiking and horseback riding. Campsites are located at the equestrian site and along the Run, accessible by canoe/kayak only. And the Hammock House on the Wekiva River makes for a fun cabin getaway. Here’s a map.
Park entry: $3-$5 per vehicle (depending on how many people are in the car)
Rainbow Springs State Park | Dunnellon
Archaeologists believe that people have been using Rainbow Spring, Florida’s fourth largest spring with a pool 250 feet wide, for nearly 10,000 years! For about 30 years starting in the 1930s, the site was a privately-owned family amusement park with gardens, waterfalls, a zoo and even a rodeo space. Interesting, right? Eventually, the land was restored and preserved, earning a National Natural Landmark designation.
Situated about 2 ½ hours northwest of Orlando, visitors are often amazed by this spring’s unusual sand boils, where water bubbles to the surface from beneath the sand, creating bubbly moving soil similar to quicksand ─ beware so your date doesn’t sink! You’ll also see lush aquatic plants and brilliant white limestone, paired with remaining man-made park elements including waterfalls and azalea gardens.
Those looking to tube should access the tube-specific entrance. It’s about nine miles from the main headsprings entrance. (Tubing is not allowed within the headsprings area of the park.) Once inside, rent a tube ($20) and catch the shuttle service. You’ll then embark on a two-hour leisurely drift. You may not find a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but Rainbow Springs is definitely a tubing gem with a loot of natural hidden treasures.
Park entry: $5 per vehicle
- Madison Blue Spring State Park | Lee
- Ginnie Springs | High Springs
- Blackwater River State Park | Holt
- Spring Creek | Marianna
You won’t run out of staycation options in Orlando. We have more than our fair share of resorts, many of which have epic pools and lazy rivers. Yup, you can hop in a tube and float down a man-made marvel with an overnight getaway or spa/day-pass.
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate
During my first pregnancy, my husband and I went to the Omni for our babymoon. Surrounded by 1,200 acres of wetlands, the Omni offers several dining spots, two golf courses, a full-service spa and two pools with an 850-foot lazy river stocked with tubes. Pregnant or otherwise, floating along the river definitely was relaxing and romantic.
The Hilton Orlando has two pools and an 892-foot long lazy river with waterfalls, fountains and water cannons. If you’re not staying at the hotel, book the Poolside Cabana Package ($425/couple) through the Hilton Orlando’s Eforea Spa to receive two 50-minute massages, an appetizer and lunch for two from Tropic’s Pool Bar & Grill, and all-day access to a pool-side cabana.
Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
This resort property has five oasis-style pools, two lazy rivers, a hot tub and two kids’ splash parks. Consider booking a couples massage ($250 for 50 minutes) at the on-site spa, Blue Harmony, and then continue to relax in tubes on the lazy river.
Lazy River Thrill Seekers
Orlando is known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, so why not go tubing on while visiting a local amusement park.
Volcano Bay boldly erupted last year as Universal Orlando Resort’s third theme park installment. Volcano Bay’s 30 acres embody a “Water is Life. Life is Joy.” philosophy influenced by the carefree attitude of the legendary Waturi islanders of the South Pacific. The energy of these characters flood 18 stellar attractions ─ ranging from daring to serene. Be sure to take a break from the thrills with a slow tube ride down the Kopiko Wai Winding River. Or, pick up the pace by tubing through the rapids of TeAwa The Fearless River.
A beach day and/or weekend is likely on your summer bucket list. We recently shared our itinerary for Three Perfect Days in Daytona Beach which includes playtime at Daytona Lagoon. This place has plenty of entertainment and gaming options. And, yes, its waterpark invites tubers to float in the lazy river.
- Adventure Island | Tampa
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach | Orlando
- Splash Harbour Water Park | Indian Rocks Beach
- Feature image: @jaylorenzo814
- Florida State Parks
- Omni Orlando Resort ChampionsGate
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando