6 Must-Visit Natural Springs In and Around Ocala

The things you can do at the Springs

What’s the best thing about living in Ocala? Some people say that it’s natural beauty around every corner and some say it’s the abundance of natural springs.

These warm, clear, pristine waterways offer idyllic settings for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Paddlers love them too because they provide the perfect opportunities for getting out on the water.

Even if you prefer to stay dry, you might find a glass bottom boat cruise, a hike, bird watching, interpretive sites and picnic areas. Simply put, Ocala’s natural springs have something for everyone.

Keep reading to discover the must-visit natural springs in the Ocala area.

1. Silver Springs State Park

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week, 8:00 am to sundown
  • Address: 5656 E Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Springs, FL 34488
  • Phone Number: 352-261-5840
  • Admission: $2 for adults; children five and younger free
  • Website: https://silversprings.com/

This deservedly popular park has all sorts of attractions to delight the whole family. Glass bottom boats were invented here, and they remain a favorite for park goers. Since the 1870s, visitors have boarded the boats to gain an uncommon view of Mammoth Spring, which is the head spring of the river.

Silver Springs also is a wonderful place to enjoy paddling with canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards all available for rent. Hiking is popular too, with most of the trails being relatively short and level so the whole family can enjoy them.

You may want to reserve a campsite so that you can make the most out of viewing the native wildlife and touring the Silver River Museum where you can learn about local history, archaeology, paleontology and much more. Be certain to set aside time to visit the recreated 19th-century Cracker Village and to have a delicious meal at the restaurant.

2. Alexander Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 49525 County Road 445
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=32209

The Alexander Springs Recreation Area has plenty of options for relaxation and fun. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent at this portion of the Ocala National Forest. The gently sloped spring pool remains a constant 72 degrees throughout the year with crystal-clear water.

Anglers love dipping a line in the water here, while hikers could spend days exploring the trails. Bicycling, picnicking, wildlife viewing, boating and swimming are available all year. In addition, this is the only place in the national forest where scuba diving is permitted. It costs just $6.50 per person to participate.

3. Silver Glen Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 5271 State Road 19, Salt Springs
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=37199

Also part of the Ocala National Forest, the Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area sits on the edge of the Big Scrub. One of the things that makes this area particularly fascinating is that it contains important archaeological findings. Once the site of an ancient village, today the area is home to all sorts of archeological diggings. Interpretive signs provide an interesting and informative adventure.

Hikers enjoy Silver Glen Springs because of the three-mile Lake George Trail and the Spring Boils Trail, which is a convenient three-quarters of a mile long.

Of course, water activities are the highlight for most visitors. Non-motorized boating is always popular. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent, allowing everyone to enjoy a close up view of manatees in the water while eagles soar overhead. With the clear waters always a lovely 73 degrees, swimming is popular all year. Be certain to bring your snorkeling equipment to get a closer look at the fish.

4. Juniper Springs

  • Park Hours: Seven days a week 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Address: Ocala National Forest, 26695 E. State Road 40, Silver Springs
  • Phone Number: 352-669-3522
  • Admission: $7 per person weekdays; $10 per person weekends; $70 plus tax for annual day use pass
  • Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/ocala/recarea/?recid=34064

This is another pick that’s conveniently located in the Ocala National Forest. Constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the complex today includes a campground, trails, picnic areas and swimming holes.

A general store, which sells ice and firewood along with other necessities, is on site, and shuttle services are available during the busiest seasons. Canoe rentals are available with prices starting at $20 for two hours, or you can launch your own kayak or canoe for a nominal fee.

A self-guided, barrier-free interpretive trail is available for the enjoyment of all visitors. Stop for a tour of the Old Mill House to learn more about the Civilian Conservation Corps and how the complex at Juniper Springs was built. Snorkelers and swimmers are always welcome in the water. Be on the lookout for the elusive American eel.

5. Paradise Springs

  • Park Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; open Monday and Tuesday by appointment for groups of five or larger; closed Christmas Day
  • Address: 4040 SE 84th Lane Road, Ocala, Florida
  • Phone Number: 352-368-5746
  • Admission: $30 per diver, per day
  • Website: https://www.ocalamarion.com/directory/paradise-springs/

If you are a scuba diver, then visiting Paradise Springs on a regular basis is a must. This is your opportunity to experience a spectacular cavern dive right in your own backyard.

One of the things that makes this such a special spot for diving is the prehistoric fossils that are embedded in the walls of the cave. With 72-degree water all year long, you’ll want to explore this underwater cave in every season. That’s good news because it would take a lifetime to see all that there is to discover.

6. Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs is a particularly well-known place for tubing. The activity closes down for the winter from October through March, but you can expect pretty heavy usage for the rest of the year. If you go for the tubing, understand that there is a designated entrance for this activity. A shuttle service is provided for a small fee, and tubes are available for rent.

In addition to campgrounds and a concession stand, the park also boasts gardens, an interpretive exhibit, playgrounds and picnic facilities.

Other popular activities include fishing, geocaching, hiking, paddling, snorkeling and swimming, providing something for every visitor.

Call Florida’s Choice Realty First

Do you want to find your home in Ocala? When you do, you’ll be able to visit these and other natural springs in the region on a regular basis. Don’t miss your opportunity to enjoy adventures in warm, crystal-clear waters every weekend.

With Florida’s Choice Realty, you’ll find local real estate experts who really know the market and can ensure that you find the home of your dreams.