The natural freshwater springs of North Florida are one of the Sunshine State’s most treasured gems and a highlight of the area’s amazing natural beauty. With crystal-clear freshwater bubbling up from deep underground at a constant 72 degrees year-round, these delightful spots are the perfect option to cool off from the heat of the Florida sun.
Surrounded by picturesque woodlands, charming hiking trails, and all manner of wildlife from birds to beavers to turtles, exploring North Florida’s natural springs is the best way to discover the natural wonders that make this part of the world so special. And while a day diving into cool spring waters and wandering through shaded woodland is a great experience, there is nothing like spending the night to really get up close to the natural world.
Pitching a tent at one of Florida’s many natural springs is one of the most exciting yet bizarrely underrated adventures you can have in the Sunshine State. Take a look below at some of the best camping sites located by Florida’s wonderful freshwater springs.
*Please check each park’s website for up-to-date details on amenities and pricing.
Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River is one of the most quintessential Florida springs there is. The swimming hole is gloriously clear, the Santa Fe River offers amazing opportunities for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and lazily floating downstream on an inner tube, and the surroundings are picture-perfect. Swimming and snorkeling are available in any of the seven springs on the river, and tubes, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are all available for hire.
Tent sites at Ginnie Springs are scattered throughout the 200 wooded acres, with plenty of spots right on the banks of the springs and river. Sites usually include a grill and a picnic table, and some come with running water.
Adults (Sunday – Wednesday) – $22.43
Adult Summer Rate (Thursday – Saturday) – $27.90
Children ages 6-12 – $6.54
Children 5 & under – Free
Ginnie Springs is between High Springs and Fort White, just off the I-75.
Heading south, take Exit 423, then take State Route 47 south. Approximately two miles south of the Santa Fe River you will see a green sign mounted on top of a pole along the highway’s shoulder, indicating the approaching turn-off to Ginnie Springs.
Heading north, take Exit 399, then take US-441 north approximately five miles to the town of High Springs. At the first stoplight in High Springs (at the Hardee’s), turn left onto state road 27/41, then drive a mile and a half before you see the sign indicating the turn off to Ginnie Springs.
Phone: +1 386-454-7188
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is home to seven magnificent springs, including the impressive turquoise headspring, and the magical Blue Hole. The headspring is the most popular, surrounded by lush greenery and located close to the parking lot. The Blue Hole is a short hike (around 3 miles) away, but well worth the trek. Deep, dark, and totally pristine, this spot feels far further away from civilization than it actually is, and is a haven for snorkeling and scuba diving, thanks to the 580-feet long cave system living 35 feet below the surface.
Ichetucknee Springs campground is tucked away in 20 acres of woods and offers a range of large, secluded campsites, both electric and primitive. Each site comes with a fire ring and a picnic table, and the campground has restrooms and showers, a sewer hook-up, and a dump station, as well as a recreation area with pool tables, air hockey, and a jukebox.
Alternative accommodation spots are available nearby at River Run campground, and Ichetucknee Family Canoe and Cabins.
Primitive tent – $20 for 2 people
20 amp electric/water tent – $35 for 2 people
30 amp RV – $40 for 2 people
Going north on I-75, take Exit 399 onto 441 North. Head 5 miles towards High Springs, then take a left onto 27 North. In Forth White, head right onto SR 47, then go 2 miles before taking a right onto CR 238. Follow the road until you reach the campground.
Going south on I-75, take Exit 423 onto SR 47 South. Go 12 miles, then turn right onto CR238. Follow the road until you reach the campground.
Phone: +1 386-497-2285
Rainbow Springs is Florida’s fourth-largest freshwater spring, a glorious vista of azure water and verdant cypresses and mature oaks. The headspring is the most popular swimming area, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and it is surrounded by lush nature trails that offer great opportunities for hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing. Tubing is possible down the spring runs and the Rainbow River itself, and tube rental is available on-site. There’s even a tram to take you upriver!
The campground has 60 sites suitable for both RV parks and tent campers. The site offers electric hook-ups, grills, a picnic area with shelters, and laundry facilities, as well as restrooms and showers. There is also a children’s playground, drinking water, and a recycling center.
Tent or RV site – $30
From I-75 take Exit 352 onto Highway 40. Follow Highway 40 west for approximately 14 miles, then turn south onto 180th Avenue Road. The campground entrance is approximately 3 miles on the right.
Phone: +1 352-465-8550
Manatee Springs sees a massive 100 million gallons of water per day flow out of the ground, making it one of the most voluminous springs in the United States. With a gorgeous trail system winding its way around the shade of cypresses, this is a picturesque spot before you even get into the water. The main attraction of Manatee Springs is, of course, the Florida manatees themselves, who can be found sheltering in the cool waters year-round. These curious creatures make a trip to Manatee Springs truly special.
With over 70 tent and RV sites, the campground at Manatee Springs has a lot to offer. Each site comes with water and electric hookups, so you won’t have to rough it, and each of the three loops of the campground has hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables, and grills. Campfires are allowed, as are pets, and there is drinking water available on-site.
Tent or RV site – $20
Manatee Springs State Park is located on State Road 320, six miles west of Chiefland, off US Rt 19.
Phone: +1 352-493-6072