Discover the breathtaking beauty of Orlando’s wild side at these pristine natural springs.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Central Florida’s natural springs, where you can swim, paddle and even scuba dive in crystalline waters. We’re taking you beneath the surface of our serene waterways to explore some of the most captivating springs near Orlando. Whether you prefer to explore solo or join a guided tour, we have you covered with adventures for all ages and skill levels. Let’s dive in!

Discover: Orlando Ecotourism

Orlando vacation planning made easy — and free. Make a complimentary appointment with Visit Orlando’s Vacation Planners at a time and date of your choosing for the latest insider advice, special offers and more ahead of your next visit.

Natural Springs in the Orlando Area

Couple kayaking in Rock Springs at Get Up and Go Kayaking
Get Up & Go Kayaking at Rock Springs Run Reserve

Rock Springs Run State Reserve

Just 35 minutes north of downtown Orlando is Rock Springs Run State Reserve, a natural oasis with several opportunities for aquatic exploration.

Arrive bright and early to go tubing at Kelly Park, where you can float along a free-flowing natural spring. It’s nature’s lazy river, with water that remains a refreshing 68 degrees year-round. Feel free to bring your own inner tube or rent one outside the park gates at Rock Springs Bar & Grill. Just be sure to arrive well before the park opens, as this popular spot fills to capacity very quickly. Only 330 vehicles are allowed in each day.

Head next door to King’s Landing for prime launch access, rentals and guided eco tours. You can also bring your own kayak, paddleboard or canoe and set out for fun from Kelly Park’s Camp Joy.

Rock Springs Run is one of three main tributaries feeding the Wekiva River Basin, and one of its most exceptional features is the Emerald Cut. Named for its emerald water and lush jungle foliage, this scenic slice of paradise is home to turtles, river otters, white-tailed deer, herons and more native fauna. The truly wild at heart can even spend the night at one of three primitive campsites along Rock Springs Run in partnership with Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Adventure awaits just 25 minutes north of downtown Orlando at Wekiwa Springs State Park, the oldest tourist attraction in Orange County. It’s been a natural hotspot for over 100 years, with azure waters, multi-use trails, horseback riding, paddling, swimming and snorkeling.

An accessible ramp and chair lift make spring entry a breeze, while an ADA compliant boardwalk trail offers a new way to see native flora and fauna. Pack a picnic or grab lunch from the onsite concession and restaurant for a laid-back day in the sun.

A new Serenity Garden is also in the works, the first of its kind in the nation. It will offer a unique sensory experience with interactive elements and therapeutic programming designed for visitors of all ages and abilities.

If you’re looking for something a little wilder, you can go mountain biking or explore the Wekiva River Basin in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard rental. The Wekiva River is one of just two National Wild and Scenic Rivers in the state, offering a glimpse of real, untamed Florida as it’s existed for centuries. Additional launch points with restrooms and other amenities can be found along the river for a fun, customizable outdoor adventure.

Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park is one of the best places to see manatees near Orlando. In fact, it’s one of the largest manatee gathering sites in the whole state. This is especially true from mid-November to March, when hundreds of so-called “sea cows” flock to the area in search of warmer water.

Discover: Places to See Manatees Near Orlando

The spring and spring run are closed during the winter months, but there is plenty to explore on land and along the St. John’s River. Join a guided nature cruise, take a hike, stroll the boardwalk trail, visit the historic Thursby House and keep an eye out for manatees, scrub jays and more native wildlife. You can even stay the night in a two-bedroom cabin or fully equipped camp site, perfect for looking up at the stars.

When the weather warms up, cool off with paddling, swimming, snorkeling, tubing and even scuba diving in the 72-degree springs. Free diving is allowed, and you can also join a variety of family-friendly scuba tours to encounter diverse marine life. Blue Spring State Park is about an hour north of our main tourism districts for an unforgettable day trip.

Note: Due to a spring run stabilization and improvement project, in-water activities including swimming, snorkeling, tubing, diving and paddling are closed through Nov. 15, 2024 (date subject to change). Expect an upgraded manatee release area, an improved swimming platform and a new boardwalk trail later this year.

De Leon Springs State Park

One hour north of Orlando is De Leon Springs State Park, named after explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. The region’s early inhabitants, the Macaya Indians, called the springs Acuera, or healing waters, and you can still see the remnants of a so-called Fountain of Youth from the park’s days as a popular roadside attraction.

Discover De Leon Springs’ fascinating 6,000-year history at the visitor center, then head outside to soak up a bit of that magic for yourself. Swim, snorkel and splash in the swimming area, where depths range from 18 inches to 30 feet at the spring boil.

You can also rent kayaks and canoes, take a guided boat tour, or suit up with a certified and insured instructor for instructional scuba diving (recreational diving is not permitted). Hiking is another popular activity, with a wheelchair-accessible paved nature trail and an all-terrain wheelchair available for use (inquire at the ranger station).

You can easily spend the full day here, so arrive early and be sure to pack a lunch or join the waitlist for the historic Old Sugar Mill Pancake House. They’re famous for their flip-your-own pancakes with your choice of pancake batter and mix-ins.

Silver Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park

Ninety minutes north of our main tourism districts, Silver Springs State Park is an iconic piece of Florida history going back at least 10,000 years. It combines breathtaking natural beauty with a fascinating past for one of the most unique springs experiences in Central Florida.

Take a ride on a glass bottom boat tour for unique views of marine life, plus see underwater movie props from the old Hollywood movie days. Scenes from major pictures like Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Moonraker (1979) and Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) were all filmed here over the years.

You can learn more about the area’s geology and natural history at the Silver River Museum (open on weekends), plus explore a replica of a 19th century pioneer settlement with 10 a.m. guided tours offered on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you’re looking for some good old-fashioned outdoor fun, you can also rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards, hit the trails, and stay overnight at cabins, RV and tent sites.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Finally, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only place in the USA where you can legally swim and snorkel with manatees. It’s located 90 minutes east of Orlando near Florida’s Gulf Coast, but some of our tour operators offer guided visits with round trip transportation to Crystal River for a fun and memorable day out at the springs.

> Back to Top

Guided Tours

If you’re ready to explore Orlando’s wild side but don’t want to go it alone, these local experts can help you navigate our natural springs in style.

King's Landing
King’s Landing at Rock Springs Run State Reserve

King’s Landing at Rock Springs Run State Reserve offers kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals, plus a variety of guided excursions. Experienced paddlers can also join the King’s Landing shuttle run, a one-way, 8.5-mile excursion that concludes at Wekiva Island and includes return shuttle transportation.

Get Up & Go Kayaking offers 2-hour kayak tours of Rock Springs Run, plus guided tours of Silver Springs and Orlando’s neighboring city of Winter Park. All tours are hosted in crystal clear kayaks for an incredible experience on the water.

Epic Paddle Adventures has a 2-hour Silver Springs State Park tour where you can look for monkeys, manatees and more incredible wildlife aboard your choice of clear kayak or paddleboard. They also offer rentals and a variety of fun tours in downtown Orlando and along the Atlantic Coast.

Discovery Kayak & Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) hosts guided kayak tours throughout Central Florida, including half day tours near Silver Springs State Park and Three Sisters Springs at Crystal River. They also have paddleboard and kayak rentals, plus return shuttle service from Ray Wayside Park back to Silver Springs.

Otter Paddle Orlando
Otter Paddle Orlando at Silver Springs

Otter Paddle Orlando also offers 2-hour paddleboard tours of Silver Springs. You can even transform your paddleboard into a kayak with foldable SUP seats.

Real Florida Adventures can get you up close and personal with manatees on a full- or half-day snorkeling adventure. Round-trip transportation is included from Orlando to Crystal River. In addition to snorkeling, you’ll also enjoy a boat tour, lunch, a complimentary mask and snorkel, and a certified and licensed tour guide to lead the charge. The full-day option also includes an airboat tour and admission to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

Gray Line Orlando sightseeing tours
Gray Line of Orlando at Crystal River

Gray Line of Orlando also offers Crystal River tours with included transportation from Orlando. The 10-hour tour features a boat ride, ample time swimming and snorkeling with manatees, and admission to Ellie Schiller Homosassa State Park.

Finally, Crystal River Watersports offers dozens of experiences in and around Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. In addition to manatee tours, snorkeling adventures, and sightseeing cruises, the family-owned tour center offers scuba instruction, certification courses, and guided exploratory dives.

> Back to Top


Use this interactive map to track down the natural springs featured in this blog.

Stay Connected to Orlando
You never know what we’ll dream up next. Connect with Visit Orlando’s Vacation Planning Services for free, personalized assistance, and follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Threads and YouTube for valuable offers, exclusive tips, fresh attractions and the latest events. You can also subscribe to our eNewsletter for more information from Orlando: Theme Park Capital of the World.

Have feedback about this blog? Let us know.