Want something fun to do this 4th of July?
Florida is well-known for its theme parks, abundant sunshine, and sparkling coastlines. Refreshingly cool crystal clear waters, wildlife viewing opportunities, and aquatic activities like tubing and kayaking make Florida springs the perfect 4th of July Weekend day trip for the holiday weekend – or even year round. And there are dozens of natural Florida springs to explore this 4th of July!
We've compiled everything you need to know for your 4th of July springs day trip into one place, including which Florida springs are closest to Orlando, and which ones are definitely worth the drive. We even touch on gators, for all you out-of-towners. Oh, and, remember to bring some cash for entry fees, since internet can be spotty in the wilderness.
Why Visit Florida's Natural Springs this 4th of July Weekend?
Did you know there are more than 700 Florida springs located throughout the state? The wealth of natural beauty surrounding us in Central Florida is astounding, and perfect for a Central Florida 4th of July. As an added bonus, many springs are located within Florida State Parks. For a small entry fee, you'll be able to soak up the scenery this 4th of July weekend while enjoying the additional amenities provided by our state park system.
Florida springs are popular year round, but especially so on hot holiday weekends like Independence Day.
With the water at most springs a refreshing 67 – 72 degrees, Florida springs are the perfect reprieve from the heat. Besides swimming, there's plenty to do in the water to stay cool, like tubing (at select springs), manatee watching, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Many springs located within state parks also have hiking trails, and some even have overnight accommodations for a 4th of July weekend campout.
When visiting Florida springs this 4th of July Weekend, it's important to do your part to aid in their protection. Simple actions like cleaning up your trash, choosing sunscreen free of harmful chemicals, and using reusable water bottles instead of plastic all make a difference in preserving our state's natural playgrounds.
Updated June 2023, by Zoë Joiner.
Close to Home: Springs Near Orlando to visit for Independence Day
Wekiwa Springs, Apopka
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712
Distance from Orlando: 30 minutes
Highlights: Kayaking, Wekiva Island, swimming
Wekiwa Springs State Park‘s beautiful spring waters were Central Florida’s first tourist attraction, with a bathhouse and hotel established in 1870. The swimming area is an average depth of four feet, making for a relaxing, refreshing dip. Pack a picnic and beach gear this Independence Day to really enhance your experience. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails too!
We love arriving early, renting a canoe or kayak, and then cooling off for the afternoon in the refreshing spring water. You can launch your canoe or kayak from the springs area, follow the Wekiva River for about a mile, and then you’ll come across Weikva Island, home to Florida’s best outdoor bar. Weekends are very popular.
Admission is $6 per vehicle.
Kelly Park / Rock Springs Run, Apopka
400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712
Distance from Orlando: 30 minutes
Highlights: Tubing, King's Landing, gorgeous scenery
Located north of Orlando, Kelly Park is popular with day-trippers and tubers so be sure to arrive early for Independence Day (before 10am) since the park fills up quickly in the summer. Pack a picnic and stake out a sunny spot in the grass along the water after you’ve floated down the short and serene 3/4-mile tube run.
Tube rentals are available outside the park from multiple vendors (or bring your own tube — must be less than 5 feet in length or width).
Besides the Holiday Weekend, we recommend visiting Kelly Park during the week or outside of the busy summer season (October is a surprisingly great time to tube!).
If tubing isn’t your thing, pass the entrance to Kelly Park and continue to King’s Landing where you can rent kayaks and hit the water. Keep your eyes out for playful otters, turtles, birds and other wildlife. Several local kayaking companies also launch guided tours from this area.
Admission is $3 – $5.
Blue Spring, Orange City
2100 W. French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763
Distance from Orlando: 45 minutes
Highlights: Manatee viewing, boardwalk, boat tours
Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City, Florida and is best known for its incredible manatee watching on cold winter days. In the summer and on Independence Day when the manatees have gone, you can snorkel, swim, or scuba dive in the crystalline waters.
Take a walk along the hiking trail or lovely boardwalk winding through the woods and along the water’s edge to the headwaters of the spring. A camp store and concession stand offer good, basic food, or bring along a picnic. There is also a guided river boat tour along the St. Johns River. This park is very popular on a holiday weekend because it's such a convenient natural spring to visit.
Admission is $6 per vehicle.
De Leon Springs State Park, De Leon Springs
601 Ponce De Leon Blvd., De Leon Springs, FL 32130
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour
Highlights: Old Spanish Sugar Mill DIY pancakes, swimming
Make your own pancake breakfast, swim in the cool 72-degree spring water, wander the peaceful hiking trails (including a half-mile wheelchair-accessible paved nature trail), and soak up rich history at the small museum exhibit. You can do all of this and more at De Leon Springs State Park. But perhaps the most popular activity is making your own pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill for $5.50 per person.
Admission is $6 per vehicle.
Worth the Drive: Other Florida Springs to Visit on 4th of July Weekend
Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest
State Road 40, approximately 4 miles west of the intersection of State Road 40 and State Road 19.
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour + 20 minutes
Highlights: Swimming, millhouse, Juniper Creek
Step into the inviting, crystal clear, limestone-bordered spring waters at Juniper Springs. The Swimming is ideal, but there are a few other features that make this park the most visited recreation facility within the National Forests of Florida, and we think, worth the drive from Orlando this 4th of July holiday.
Its location within the Ocala National Forest features unique subtropical vegetation surrounding the complex, including hardwood swamps, palms and sand ridges.
There is also a millhouse with a working waterwheel that adds a unique charm, and Juniper Creek, which offers 7 miles of canoeing or kayaking. Follow the 1-mile hiking trail to enjoy another spring, Fern Hammock Spring.
Alternatively, Alexander Springs is also within the Ocala National Forest system. Camping, swimming, snorkeling, hiking and canoeing are popular activities here. Notably, Alexander Springs is the only place in the Ocala National Forest where scuba diving is permitted, although the Holiday weekend may affect that.
Admission is $12 + tax per person.
Rainbow Springs, Dunnellon
19158 SW 81st Place Rd., Dunnellon, FL 34432
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour + 30 minutes
For a glorious Independence Day in the sun spent swimming or tubing for hours, you just can't beat the Rainbow River. Rainbow Springs is located in Dunnellon, and offers some of the best 4th of July weekend tubing. Swim in the 72-degree headsprings, or rent a canoe or kayak to explore the scenic river. There are even waterfalls to admire.
If you intend to float the river, tube rentals are $22 (plus park entry fee and shuttle service) and the experience lasts about 2 hours.
Tubers should use the separate tubing entrance to float the Rainbow River, since tubing is not permitted within the headsprings area of the park. Tubing hours change so check their website before planning your visit, and, plan to arrive early since the park closes to all visitors when the headsprings entrance reaches capacity.
For a longer tube run (we’re talking 4-4.5 hours of floating!), KP Hole is a natural spring to visit nearby offering tube rentals.
Admission is $2 per person for the Headsprings area.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River
1502 SE Kings Bay Drive, Crystal River, FL 34429
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour + 40 minutes
Highlights: Manatee viewing
Although the spring is closed for a Canal Stabilization project until November, 2023, Crystal River is one of the best places in the state to view the Florida manatee. It happens to be the only place people are permitted to swim with them while on a guided tour. When it re-opens, Three Sisters Springs is a fantastic place to observe manatees on foot from the boardwalks, where you can see the spring full of manatees in the colder winter months.
If you’d rather view these gentle giants from the water, book a manatee snorkeling tour (in season) or join a guided kayaking tour in clear kayaks with Get Up and Go Kayaking. Tour options include visits to Three Sisters Springs, Hunter Springs, and Jurassic Springs. The most unique feature of this tour is, of course, getting an unobstructed view of the manatees directly below your kayak.
Admission is $12.50 per adult in the summer, and $20 in the winter.
Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs
5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour 30 minutes
Highlights: Glass bottom boat tours, kayaking, museum & village
Want to experience the crystal clear waters of a Florida spring a little differently? Step aboard one of the beloved glass-bottom boats that Silver Springs is known for.
A glass-bottom boat tour is an awesome way to observe what's in the pristine water below, especially since swimming is not permitted at this spring. These 30-minute tours are offered daily, with extended 90-minute tours available on weekends.
You can also rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards to explore the 5-mile Silver River, check out the museum, and shop in the village.
Park admission is $8/car and boat tours are $12-$25/person, depending on which tour you choose.
Weeki Wachee Springs, Spring Hill
6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee, FL 34606
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour 45 minutes
Highlights: Mermaid show, natural spring waterpark, kayaking
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is best known for its iconic mermaid show, offered three times a day at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. While this is a must-see at least once, there's so much more to explore at this Florida State Park, including an impressive water park, the Ranger Experience, Wilderness River Cruises and much more.
You can splash and play in the spring at Buccaneer Bay (open seasonally), the natural waterpark complete with water slides, swimming and snorkeling. Alternatively, rent a tandem kayak or canoe to paddle along 5.5 miles of the beautiful Weeki Wachee River.
Admission is $13. Arrive early to ensure park entrance.
Homosassa Springs, Homosassa
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446
Distance from Orlando: 1 hour 40 minutes
Highlights: Manatee viewing, unique wildlife
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park combines everything you love about Florida State Parks into one Independence Day visit. What started off as a tourist attraction in the 1950s has now grown to be a Florida State Park. The history is quite fascinating, and remnants of the old roadside attraction are apparent in places.
While swimming isn't permitted, there are natural walkways and landscapes to explore, plus abundant opportunities to see wildlife. Spot manatees in the winter, plus rescued wildlife like flamingos, pelicans, owls, turtles, otters, alligators, deer, and more.
There are a small number of manatees year round that are kept at the park as they are not fit to return to the wild.
Admission is $13 per person ages 5 and older. Holiday weekends are especially busy.
Ginnie Springs, High Springs
7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, FL 32643
Distance from Orlando: 2 hours 15 minutes
Highlights: Cave diving, tubing
Looking for a fun and lively, adults-only (or, mostly) getaway this Independence Day? Children are not recommended during 4th of July Weekend at Ginnie Springs according to their website, which transforms into a “party atmosphere” for the Holiday weekend.
Located near Gainesville, Ginnie Springs is one of the only places where certified divers can go cave diving in Florida. Although, no dive passes are issued during Holiday weekends because of the high crowds.
For a more leisurely activity, rent tubes and relax as you float down the Santa Fe River with your love. The facility also offers overnight rental cottages, campsites, and picnicking if you’d like to turn your visit into a weekend getaway.
Expect to pay ~$25 per person for 4th of July Weekend. Non-holiday admission runs $15 – $20 per person, and rentals are available for an additional fee.
Not into swimming, or crowds?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Florida's natural beauty at a spring without getting in the water, or dealing with the crowds at popular springs. Here are a few Central Florida springs that are lowkey and have recreational areas and facilities, however, swimming is not an option at these locations.
Are there alligators in Florida springs?
If you're a Floridian, chances are you already know that alligators can be present in any body of water in Florida. We have seen baby alligators in Florida springs before, and seeing them on a Memorial Day visit is possible.
In short, alligators are always a possibility. That being said, Florida springs that are especially popular for swimming and tubing are generally close to the public if alligators are present. Many swimming areas also feature netting to provide an added layer of safety.
Your best bet is to always err on the side of caution and assess your personal comfort level. Opt for a 4th of July holiday activity like canoeing, kayaking, or hiking instead of tubing or swimming if that feels more in your comfort zone. We also recommend checking out this resource on living with alligators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
If you're visiting Florida from another state, it's especially important to educate yourself about alligators and familiarize yourself with safety tips. And please, never ever feed or approach an alligator or any wildlife for that matter.