Springs, springs, everywhere springs! Lake City, Florida’s Springlands has some of the most highly regarded springs in the Southeast, starting with Ichetucknee Springs State Park, a 2,700-acre getaway that features eight major clear-water springs that come together to create the six-mile Ichetucknee River. As you romp in the swimming holes or float down the river, you’re surrounded by lush trees and other foliage. A truly magical place.
Ginnie Springs is a privately owned, 250-acre attraction that has it all: seven distinct springs that feed into the nearby Santa Fe River; all kinds of watersports gear to rent, from masks for snorkeling to kayaks and paddleboards; a snack bar, covered pavilions, Ginnie’s General Store and more.
Bootleggers in the 1900s used Rum Island as a place to hide their stills. Nowadays, Rum Island Spring and Park, on the banks of the Santa Fe River, draws folks to its swimming hole and unspoiled natural vibe. A boat ramp makes kayaking the Santa Fe a convenient option.
Another one of our primary postcard springs is 400-acre Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park, which opened in 2017, making it the 175th state park in Florida. The park includes several named springs, including Gilchrist Blue, which produces an impressive 44 million gallons of water a day and has a quarter-mile spring run that leads to the Santa Fe River. Park amenities include a concession stand and pavilions.
That’s just the start of the springs around here. Let’s take a tour:
Don’t waterfalls make you happy? That’s why folks love to visit Falling Creek Falls, just eight miles north of Lake City. The 200-acre park is ideal for taking a walk along the boardwalk by the creek and seeing (and hearing) a root beer-colored, 10-foot waterfall.
Continue north for a few miles and you’ll come upon the town of White Springs, which includes the White Sulphur Springs Springhouse, one of Florida’s original tourist destinations because of the supposed healing qualities of local spring waters. Enjoy the quaint charms of this historic Southern town.
Our northernmost major spring is Suwannee Springs, located at the intersection of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee rivers. The park has six named springs, the most prominent of which is surrounded by limestone walls originally constructed as a bathhouse in the 19th century. You can also explore the vast grounds, with Civil War earthworks, the wreck of a steamship and other interesting discoveries.
Explore the vast grounds of Suwannee Springs, including Civil War earthworks. Discover a local shipwreck and other interesting finds.
Travel 15 miles to the far western side of Florida’s Springlands to enjoy Falmouth Spring, one of the more peaceful and less developed springs in the area. Shaded by grand oaks, it has a white sandy bottom and gentle rapids.
Committed kayakers should consider paddling the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, a 266-mile meandering route, a chunk of which is in Florida’s Springlands. Our section includes five river camps, free to use, with screened sleeping platforms, tent sites and (hot) showers. You can launch near Mayo, 25 miles west of Lake City.
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park, 36 miles west of Lake City, is world-famous for its cave diving, with scuba enthusiasts from all over coming to explore 33,000 feet of surveyed underwater passages. Swimmers and tubers love this place, too. The park has two major springs, a spring run, six sinkholes in pristine condition, and an award-winning trail that runs through mature forests.
An eight-mile drive southeast puts you at Royal Springs, a five-acre, off-the-beaten path swimming hole that’s 42 feet deep, which is why there’s a high launch platform for jumping into the spring. Royal Springs sits on the banks of the Suwannee. Continuing southeast for 12 miles takes us to Little River Springs, also on the Suwannee. The water feeds from a limestone crevice and leads to a cave system that runs a quarter mile from the entrance and goes down a hundred feet. Scuba divers, that’s your cue. The 125-acre county park also has a beach area.
We continue southeast for 30 miles to our next stop, Poe Springs Park, which is also 30 miles due south of Lake City on the Santa Fe River. This 200-acre park has been a less-traveled swimming hole for generations, surrounded by woodlands and fields. Head into the woods for peace and quiet in Florida’s Springlands.
Fanning Springs State Park, all 200 acres of it, is located way down upon the Suwannee River, in the southernmost part of Florida’s Springlands. Take a refreshing dip — and then venture through a slightly spooky (but must-see!) cypress swamp.
For a different kind of springs experience, visit family-owned Deep Spring Farm, an organic retreat on the Santa Fe River, with 22 acres of farm gardens, spring-fed ponds, and a nature trail. Here, during the summer season, you can pick some of the best organic blueberries you’ll ever taste.
These aren’t all the springs in Florida’s Springlands, but this group is more than enough to keep you busy during your stay.