Nature lovers and water enthusiasts will get their fix at any of these warm springs close to Tampa. While these aren’t as hot as some of the other bubbly mineral waters around the country, Floridians have a great list of places to beat the heat and humidity.
Since the climate in this southeastern state is relatively temperate most of the year, it’s not bad that these springs around the Sunshine State mostly hover from around 68 to 72℉. Many springs in Florida are crystalline and incredible for seeing wildlife in the water. Most of the state parks boast camping near Tampa too.
For that reason, these places are fantastic for snorkeling and diving in addition to swimming. If you’re into paddling, consider targeting springs with kayak or canoe runs. Several locations have equipment rental, but bringing your own is an option.
While enjoying these refreshing swimming holes, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Most places are busy enough to keep animals away, but Florida is home to many gators, bears, and snakes.
Here are the nearest warm springs to Tampa, FL, in order of proximity.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park – 56 miles | 1 hour
Located about an hour north of Tampa, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a historic attraction that has been alluring visitors and drivers off the roads for decades. The park features its world-famous live mermaid shows, a waterpark on the natural water, boating, picnic areas, and plenty of space for families to enjoy outdoor recreation.
The springs maintain a temperature of 74℉ and get over 117 million gallons of fresh crystal water pumped through them daily. No one knows the exact depth of the springs cavern as the bottom has never been reached. Weeki Wachee is open 365 days a year and is still one of Florida’s top tourist stops.
Three Sisters Springs – 80 miles | 1 hour 20 minutes
The Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River are world-famous for their clear waters, breathtaking scenery, and opportunities to see manatees in the wild. Entry to the springs can only be reached by boat, and the year-round 70℉ water attracts lots of visitors for swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
From April 1 through November 14, paddle vessels are allowed in the springs, but the rest of the year is closed off to vehicles due to manatees. During manatee season, swimming is still possible, but certain areas are closed off to give the animals space. If visitors aren’t into swimming, there’s a boardwalk that goes through the springs, but it’s a separate attraction with an independent entrance fee.
Kelly Park/Rock Springs – 102 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes
Rock Springs in Kelly Park is often referred to as “Orlando’s natural lazy river,” offering a relaxing reprieve from modern life in gorgeous surroundings. The crystal clear waters gurgle from the Earth below, producing an incredible flow of 26,000 gallons per minute, creating an 8-mile stream. The water temperatures hover around 68-72℉ all year, making this a fun spot to wade, swim, and even tube out in nature.
Rock Springs is incredibly popular, and they have a capacity limit for vehicles that are usually full within an hour of opening in the summertime. To ensure you won’t be turned away, call the information line at 407-254-1906 to see if cars are still being let in. There are also a few camping spots in the area that need to be reserved ahead of time to use.
Rainbow Springs – 102 miles | 1 hour 40 minutes
Set in Rainbow Springs State Park and formally known as “Blue Spring,” Rainbow Springs is a popular place for water recreation. Keeping a cool temperature of 72℉ year-round, this artisan spring has depths from 5 to 18 feet and is ideal for snorkeling, swimming, and wildlife watching.
Over 400 million gallons of fresh, clear water pump through tiny natural vents each day, circulating the pools and creating a haven of azure waters in a serene botanical environment. Beneath the surface is plenty of opportunities to spy on turtles, fish, and other beautiful aquatic wildlife. Visitors can take advantage of boat rentals, dining options, and a campground for registered campers to the park.
Wekiwa Springs – 102 miles | 1 hour 45 minutes
Featuring bright blue waters and tropical hammocks, Wekiwa Springs is one of Orange County’s longest-running tourist attractions. Located just minutes from Orlando proper, this park is set up to accommodate several activities on both land and water.
It’s not hard to see why these springs have drawn visitors to it since the mid-19th century, as these 72℉ waters surrounded by lovely blooms are perfect for getting refreshed on a hot summer day. The springs only get to about four feet deep, so this area is primarily for light swimming and canoeing, no jumping or diving.
Silver Springs – 103 miles | 1 hour 40 minutes
Located a little over 100 miles north of Tampa, Silver Springs is the state’s oldest tourist attraction. This is the largest known artisan spring in the world, and there have been tours offered here since 1878, just a few years after America’s Civil War. Silver Springs’ most famous activity is the glass-bottom river tour, but paddling and kayaking are also done here. Currently, swimming is not allowed in the springs.
Visitors can also spend time in the park hiking, camping, dining, or grabbing a snack at one of the two on-site eateries. Additional attractions include the Silver River Museum and the Cracker Village, a replica of a 19th-century settlement village.
Alexander Springs – 118 miles | 2 hours
Alexander Springs is set in the Ocala National Forest and is one of Florida’s most desirable first-magnitude springs. Featuring a width of 300 feet, sandy bottoms, and clear waters that keep a cool temperature of 72℉, these springs are some of the most visited and renowned in the area.
Water photographers, divers, snorkelers, and casual swimmers come to this location to bask in the incredible Floridian natural beauty while enjoying an open-air dip. The hiking loop around the springs is a great way to break a sweat before refreshing in the inviting water.
The park has several facilities that provide everything you need for a day’s visit. A shop with snacks, rental gear, and even paddling boats are available to explore the lush tropical environment.
Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring – 120 miles | 2 hours
The Devil’s Den is one of the most unique springs in the state. This pre-historic underground cave was developed over centuries and sits beautifully under a corroding karst window, which shines light down into the mysterious sheltered cavern. The hole size is 120 feet in diameter, 54 feet deep, and the water is 72℉ all year long. Devil’s Den is open 364 days per year, being closed only on Christmas Day.
Currently, the only people who can visit this spring are scuba divers and snorkelers. Scuba diving can be done on a first-come, first-serve basis, but snorkelers must make reservations. Anyone under the age of 18 needs to have a parent or legal chaperone on-site.
Ginnie Springs – 156 miles | 2 hours 30 minutes
Showcasing some of Florida’s most transparent waters, Ginnie Springs is a haven for locals and tourists alike to indulge in some fantastic outdoor recreation. This bowl-shaped depression connects to the Santa Fe River and offers an array of things to do, such as snorkeling, diving, tubing, swimming, or just lazily floating on the peaceful waters. Holding a temperature of 72℉, visitors also enjoy looking for underwater wildlife, including catfish, bass, turtles, and other bright fish.
Several million gallons of spring water flow through this area daily, so you’ll never set foot in the same exact water twice. A shop on the property rents out equipment like scuba gear, canoes, and inner tubes, making it easy for visitors to get the most out of their trip to Ginnie Springs with the least amount of baggage. This swimming area is very popular, especially in summer, making running into crowds of other people very likely.
Ichetucknee Springs & Blue Hole – 164 miles | 2 hours 30 minutes
Located in the Ichetucknee Springs State Park, the Ichetucknee River is six miles of crystal-clear waters, fed by nine natural springs that create multiple year-round swimming spots. Wading, tubing, snorkeling, and looking at various wildlife through the translucent 72℉ waters are especially enjoyable during the summer from May through September.
Equipment for boating and other water sports are available to rent through private vendors just outside the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Entry into the water is allowed daily from 8 am until sunset.
Blue Hole Spring, also known as “Jug Spring,” is also located in the state park but is more for experienced snorkelers and divers. It’s the only first-magnitude spring in the park and pumps over 67 million gallons of water daily, creating a noticeable underwater current. Lots of wildlife can be discovered in this underwater cave, and visitors will notice that 40 feet below the surface is the start of a whole cave system. Certified scuba divers can explore twisting passages in depths of up to 600 feet.
Juniper Springs – 115 miles | 2 hours
Located in the subtropical Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is one of the area’s oldest and most coveted spots for outdoor recreation. Developed in the 1930s, the main feature of this destination is the 135-foot long and 80-foot wide pristine springs pool fed by numerous bubbly streams below the terrain.
Like many other Florida springs, it keeps a temperature of a brisk 72℉ all year long, but it uniquely has both a shallow end for wading and a deep end for jumping. Visitors are welcome 365 days a year.
In addition to swimming, the Juniper Springs area boasts many other outdoor activities. Hiking, tubing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and picnicking are fantastic ways to escape city life. Paddleboating and canoeing in the springs are also popular. The Juniper Run for canoeing is famous nationwide and takes up to five hours to complete.
Silver Glen Springs – 130 miles | 2 hours 30 minutes
Silver Glen Springs is located in Ocala National Forest and doubles as a day-use recreation site and a notable archaeological site. These crystal-clear 72℉ waters are ideal for the whole family to enjoy swimming, wading, boating, and even hiking along the shore.
Scuba diving is not permitted in these springs, but snorkelers are welcome to come and explore the underwater world with their goggles. Numerous amenities like 58 picnic tables, 30 grills, bathrooms, and changing areas are available for visitors.
Be aware that this area gets packed with crowds on holidays and weekends, so it’s best to arrive early if you want to enjoy some carefree time by the water. Also, because bears live in the forest, it’s wise to lock up your items while swimming. Kayak and canoe rentals are offered for those that want to travel up the Silver Glen Run.
Fanning Springs Park – 135 miles | 2 hours 25 minutes
Just a couple of hours out of Tampa is another one of Florida’s first-magnitude springs, located in Fanning Springs State Park. For thousands of years, this area was frequented by Native Americans who lived nearby and took in all the benefits of the natural 72℉ spring water. Today it’s a place for fun in the sun all year long and a perfect space to participate in water experiences like swimming, snorkeling, paddling, kayaking, and more.
Primitive camping is only allowed for those who arrive by means other than a car, as the parking lot is day-use only. However, if you come by foot, bike, or boat, there are spaces available. Cabin rentals are also offered on a two-night minimum reservation and come with amenities like heat, a screen porch, a kitchenette, an electric fireplace, and cooking utensils.
Gilchrist Blue Springs – 154 miles | 2 hours 30 minutes
Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park became Florida’s 175th state park in 2017 and is still a lesser-known gem for spring enthusiasts. The park is home to six springs, the most famous being the Gilchrist Blue Springs, with which it shares a name. This extensive spring is classified as a second-magnitude one as it generates around 44 million gallons of water each day and is an attractive location for experiences like snorkeling, boating, swimming, nature watching, and camping.
A dip in any of these springs should be a no-brainer when adventuring through this beautiful warm state. After some time soaking in the salt water, venture to a springs pool to get a taste of Florida’s freshwater gems.