The magical natural fresh water springs or Ocala National Forest are a perfect way to spend a hot day in central Florida – great for a day trip north of Orlando! Ocala is the southernmost forest in the continental U.S., and has the largest sand pine scrub forest. Birders flock to the area to get a chance to see the Florida scrub jay and you have a chance to run into a Florida black bear!
+Each of the many springs cost separate admission fee, even if you have America the Beautiful pass
+If you just want to photograph the springs, many allow entrance for a short period of time for free
+The springs stay a constant temperature of 72 degrees year round – may be chilly so make sure to come on a hot sunny day if you plan on swimming
+You can rent a canoe at the springs
+Cell reception can be spotty, be sure to have a handy map
+Keep your eyes peeled for sand hill cranes, we saw tons of them in the area
Where to go:
Alexander Springs, 49525 County Rd 445, Altoona, FL 32702
One of the most popular springs, for good reason! The hues of the spring are mesmerizing.
The water felt warm, there was a perfect sandy beach, and a hiking trail. If I were to pick a spring to spend a day at, this would be it.
*Free 30 minute viewing
Silver Glen Springs, 5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Another otherworldly body of water. There is no sand beach, but grass to lay on. The water was off limits on the day I visited due to a huge gator that was taking a dip. Can you spot it in the picture?
The camouflage is scary good.
*Free 30 minutes viewing
*Across the street is the Yearling Trail – the spot to see the Florida scrub jays. There are 5+ miles of trails and a connection the thousand mile Florida National Scenic Trail. The jays love to sit atop snags, dead trees, so be on the look out there –
but they can be found in the forest as well.
You aren’t limited to jays, you might just see a bald eagle as well.
This is an ideal spot to explore the forest.
Salt Springs, 13851 N Highway 19, Fort Mccoy Fl 32134, Salt Springs, FL 32134-9600
There is a slight salinity, hence the name! No beach, but plenty of grass and a concrete ledge.
*Free 30 minute viewing
*Visit the nearby Salt Spring Trail for a two mile hike. You’ll enjoy palms, Spanish moss, pockets of reindeer lichen, and a lake vista.
I didn’t get a chance to visit this spring, so let me know how it is if you’ve been!
*Free 10 minutes viewing Monday – Thursday