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Springs of Central Florida
For those of you that love swimming and maybe also want a picnic in a secluded shady spot, don’t like sand in everything and find the Water Parks of Orlando too noisy, then a visit to one of Central Florida’s many natural springs may be the ideal alternative for you.
One of the purest of pleasures is lazing in the cool, clear waters of a natural spring and Florida is one of the few places in America where you can do this thanks to a high limestone cap which traps crystal clear water just below the surface and maintains a constant temperature of around 72 F (22 C) all year round. The springs – most of which are situated within State Parks – are perfect for paddling, splashing, swimming and even scuba diving!
Blue Spring, which lies within the Blue Springs State Park – approximately 40 miles north east of Orlando, is the winter home of Manatees, which move into the warmer waters of the spring from the cooler St Johns River. The clarity of the water enables visitors to see these unique creatures without disturbing them. The park lies along the banks of the St Johns River, Florida’s longest natural waterway, and the spring releases approximately 100 million gallons of crystal clear water per day. The water starts off as the previous years rain falling in the east of the park and is then filtered through the sandy soil and porous limestone before emerging as a spring.
Slightly closer to Orlando - roughly 20 miles to the north – is Wekiwa Springs State Park and river. The Wekiwa River is reckoned by many to be one of the prettiest natural waterways in Central Florida. The river itself is yet another tributary of the St Johns River and flows a lazy 15 miles north and east to join the main river near Sandford. Swimming is permitted in the refreshing main spring and in addition you can hire canoes to travel the waterways, as the Creek Indians did many years ago. (Wekiwa is Creek for “spring of water”) In the lovely woodland park, with hiking trails and plenty of shady areas, there are an abundance of ideal picnicking spots too.
Other springs of note include; the DeLeon Springs, a few miles north of Blue Springs, which boast the ruins of an old sugar mill and a great swimming hole; Alexander Springs and Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest which again have superb, tranquil swimming pools as well as trails and woodland.
In fact if you look round Central Florida you will find so many beautiful spots to swim, relax and picnic you may wonder why you bother with the crowds in the Theme Parks at all!
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