It’s the perfect time of year to get out and experience the beauty that our Florida springs have to offer! All 5 of these springs are two hours or less from the St. Augustine area. It’s a low-cost trip that is sure to enliven your family’s love of nature.
1. Ichetucknee Springs
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is where we took our first kayak trip with our twins when they were two. I was unsure whether they would be able to sit still the whole time, but they loved it! They enjoyed seeing turtles, fish, birds, and even a manatee.
We rented two-seater kayaks from Ichetucknee Family Canoe & Cabins They don’t take reservations, but I would recommend calling in the morning and letting them know that you are on your way. They will drop you off at the launch and pick you up at the end of the river run.
2. High Springs
High Springs, just 30 minutes outside of Gainesville, is another favorite of ours. Here you will paddle down the Sante Fe river and pass several springs along the ride including Ginnie Springs, Poe Springs, and Blue Springs. We stopped and ate our lunch on the banks of Poe Springs where you can swim in the beautiful clear water. It’s a little cold (72 degrees) but it feels great after paddling in the hot Florida sun.
We rented kayaks from Santa Fe Canoe Outpost They were wonderful and will drop you off and pick you up when you are done paddling.
High Springs has a cute little downtown with some restaurants and an awesome coffee/antique shop called Drift that rents sit on top kayaks and paddle boards. My husband and I rented paddle boards from them on a weekend getaway without the kids and loved the owners and the shop. Definitely check them out if you are in High Springs!
3. De Leon Springs
De Leon Springs State Park is the closest drive on the list at only about a 1-hour drive from the St. Augustine area. This park offers swimming, snorkeling, canoe and kayak rentals, as well as fishing. All rentals can be found at the park’s concession. There are also hiking trails, a playground, and a butterfly garden.
Get there early and have breakfast in a 100-year-old replica of the 1830’s sugar mill located within the park. At the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House you will be provided with all you need to cook your own pancakes from homemade batter at the table.
4. Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs State Park is located just outside of Orlando, about 1.5 hours from St. Augustine. This is a beautiful park to admire the wildlife that our state has to offer. There is a designated swimming area as well as canoe and kayak rentals from the park’s concessions. This is a popular summer spot so make sure to arrive early!
5. Blue Spring
Blue Spring State Park (not to be confused with the Blue Springs off the Sante Fe River) is a designated manatee refuge in the winter and closed for any water activity November- March 1. There is plenty of fun to be had at Blue Spring State Park including hiking, swimming, snorkeling, and self-guided tours of the historic Thursby house built in 1872. Bring your own snorkel gear or rent from the park for a small fee and enjoy a day exploring the clear water at Blue Springs State park. Kayak and canoe rentals can be found at St. Johns River Cruises
What We Bring on a Kayak Trip
- Bug Spray
- Lunch + reusable water bottles
- phone (we have an inexpensive waterproof case I bought on amazon)
- Kids life vests *must be worn at all times
- Cash for the park entry fee/rentals
Always call the rental facility or state park prior to your trip to check on water levels, closures, safety information, weather conditions, etc. Make sure to ask about designated swimming areas and follow the guidelines. Summer is usually the busy season for most springs. I like to call the park or rental facility we are visiting to ask about busy days/times and try our best to plan around that. How about you, have you been to any of the Florida Springs? I would love to hear about it!