8 BEST Natural Springs in Ocala → Tips from a Local!

Natural Spring in Ocala

The natural springs of Florida are truly a sight to behold, even as a Florida local, it’s not something I ever get tired of visiting.

Few things in this world compare to the earth-shattering beauty of Florida’s natural artesian freshwater springs.

Did you know? Florida has over 600 springs spread all throughout the sunshine state! Bubbling up from the core of the Earth, these pristine, crystal clear waters feed the ecosystems and wildlife that have been in Florida for thousands upon thousands of years.

Ocala is home to some of the most popular, and oldest tourist attractions when it comes to springs. Not to mention, the springs in Ocala National Forest are some of the best in the state!

 A trip to Ocala is incomplete without witnessing the utter beauty of at least one of these natural springs. I’ll go over all the best natural springs in Ocala so you can enjoy the magic!

Run the chance of swimming with a wild manatee or river otter on your visit to Ocala Springs!

If that’s not enough to convince you, then hang tight, because we are just getting started!

Let’s dive right in!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

If you’re in a rush, don’t worry! I got you covered. Here are the best things you should book in advance on your trip to Ocala:

1. Enjoy Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs entrance

While Florida may be most well known for its beautiful beaches, many people are missing out on a huge aspect that makes Florida as magical as it is…

People have frequented these naturally-occurring ancient artesian springs for thousands of years. These springs have been believed to have magical healing powers, and once you experience them firsthand, you will see why.

Silver Springs State Park in Ocala is both ancient and magical. It is one of the oldest tourist destinations when it comes to springs, and with good reason. It is impeccable, and you

Silver Springs State Park is one of the best springs in Ocala and a great place to be introduced to the magic and charm that makes up Florida Springs. Here, you will never run out of things to do.

You can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes, go swimming, hike the many surrounding trails, and even take a glass-bottom boat tour!

PRICE: $8 per vehicle, $65 for the clear kayak experience

Book Your Clear Kayak Experience

2. Experience deep healing at Salt Springs

Salt Springs view

Located in the lush embrace of the Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs is a really incredible feat of nature.

As the name suggests, Salt Springs is a mineral-rich spring filled with potassium, sodium, and magnesium – all healing minerals our bodies need! It is rumored that this spring is the ‘fountain of youth.

Now you can see why Salt Springs is known as a powerful healer for the body and mind. All Florida springs have a certain mineral content. However, Salt Springs takes the cake for having an abundance of healing minerals.

Don’t miss out on the excitement of the manatee season (November to February) During this time, you can take a kayak tour and see dozens of manatees up close! They migrate inland to the springs during the winter months because the springs stay at a steady 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

The waters are so lush and crystal clear that you can see right down to the bottom and all around you. The springs are truly a magical experience that you will never forget. This beats visiting a sediment-filled dark river where you can’t see down to the bottom any day!

Keep an eye out for beautiful blue crabs enjoying the crystal-clear water too.

At the Salt Springs recreation area, you can rent a kayak or canoe here and explore Salt Springs Run which will lead you into the beautiful Lake George. There is also a trail called the Lake George Trail which is also super incredible.

PRICE: $6 per vehicle

3. Prepare to be amazed at Juniper Springs

image of a wooden cabana in Ocala National Forest

Another gorgeous spring located in the famous Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is sure to take your breath away! Juniper Springs is one of the most incredible natural springs you will find in all of Florida.

If you’re not too into water activities, there are so many other things to do around Juniper Springs! After all, Juniper Springs is located in the enormous Ocala National Forest, so there are miles and miles of trails begging to be explored!

Surrounding Juniper Springs are many hiking trails with stunning views and lush prehistoric foliage, gorgeous wildlife, and much more for your enjoyment.

If you are a fan of water activities, there is so much that Juniper Springs has to offer you too! Rent a kayak or a canoe and explore Juniper Run. You will be shocked at the sheer beauty, wildlife, and vegetation you encounter at this magical Florida oasis.

The campsite, trails, and recreational sites at Juniper Springs, as we know it today, were built in the 1930s, making it one of the oldest tourist attractions on the east coast!

PRICE: $6 per vehicle

4. Explore Alexander Springs

scuba divers in Alexander Springs

This gorgeous, abundant, and lush spring in Ocala boasts the widest natural pool with tons of space for visitors to enjoy the cleansing and refreshing waters.

Alexander Springs is a real Florida gem. From the stunning turquoise waters to the towering sabal and cabbage palm trees and lush foliage all around, I promise you will be amazed at this beautiful feat of nature.

Another spring conveniently located in the Ocala National Forest, Alexander Springs is such an enchanting place, I am sure you are not going to want to leave.

For all my scuba divers out there, listen up! This is the only spring in the Ocala National Forest where you can scuba dive at! So make sure you get your scuba papers in order and bring everything you need to have a surreal experience exploring the clear, mesmerizing depths at Alexander Springs.

The natural pool at Alexander Springs makes it the perfect location for the little ones to splash about in the water if kayaking and canoeing are out of reach.

Looking to get out of the sun for a bit? Check out some of the shaded trails, including a boardwalk, observation deck, and natural terrain.

PRICE: $6 per vehicle

5. Experience the sacred Silver Glen Springs

people kayaking in Silver Glen Springs

Silver Glen Springs in Marion County is an absolutely incredible spring with a beautiful, naturally-occurring swimming hole. Once the site of an Indigenous village, this land is very sacred and still holds special meaning to the Indigenous peoples of Florida.

Tucked away in the ancient land of the Ocala National Forest, Silver Glen Springs is truly a sight to behold. When you visit, be sure to honor and respect the land and those who stewarded it for thousands of years.

Silver Glen Springs has some of the most transparent water out of all the springs on this list. The water at Silver Glen Springs is so clear that it often reflects a rainbow off of the bottom of the spring where you can see fish and other wildlife darting about!

Similarly to Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs is one of the larger natural springs in Ocala with a huge designated swimming area. Here, you can rent a kayak or a canoe and explore Silver Glen Run, the main run throughout the spring, where you can see abundant nature and wildlife all around you.

Snorkeling Silver Glen Springs is one of the most incredible and life-changing experiences ever. Not to mention, if you happen to go during the winter months, the chances of you snorkeling near a manatee are super high!

Finally, when you’re ready to get out of the water, hike the Ocala National Forest and enjoy the abundant prehistoric beauty all around. Silver Glen Springs is another spring on this list with the added benefit of being inside the famous Ocala National Forest!

Whether you visit Silver Glen or Alexander Springs, you will be in the gorgeous Ocala National Forest, and I promise you will have a lovely and super memorable experience.

PRICE: $9 per person

6. Take a swim at Rainbow Springs

Rainbow springs kayaking

As the name suggests, Rainbow Springs is truly a magical place filled with bright blue crystal clear waters. The water is so clear that rainbows are often reflected on the bottom of the spring.

This spring is a super fun place to visit with the family or with a loved one. There is so much to do at Rainbow Springs!

Rainbow Springs also has a huge natural pool which is super fun for people of all ages to enjoy. The natural pool here is so large that part is roped off and sectioned out for swimmers and boaters.

Here you can rent a kayak, or canoe, or go tubing down the gorgeous Rainbow River! The best part about this tubing experience is that there are shuttles that bring you back to the starting point so you don’t have to worry about traveling upstream!

The best way to get the full experience is to rent a glass bottom kayak. This seriously changes the game because you can experience the spring on a whole new level

PRICE: $70

Book a Glass Bottom Kayak Tour

7. Be whisked away to paradise at Paradise Springs

7 Paradise Springs near Ocala

This spring is unique because, unlike other springs on this list, it is only open to certified scuba divers! Paradise Springs is truly a scuba diver’s paradise.

If you’re just looking for a spring to swim at, this is not the spring for you. This is the spring for those who love the thrill of scuba diving and exploring the depths.

While this spring isn’t necessarily for swimming, it is still a gem of Florida. This lowkey spot is an entrance to the absolute best cavern diving in the world!

Your mind will be blown by the different caverns you can explore and the ancient fossils etched into the underwater walls.

NOTE: Upon arrival, you have to show proof of your scuba diving certification. Keep in mind that if you want to dive further than 100 feet, you have to be cave certified. Bear in mind that this spring is also cash-only!

PRO TIP: Bring some food to grill up and spend the whole day at Paradise Springs!

PRICE: USD$30/day per person

8. Bring the family to Scott Springs

natural springs in Ocala, no swimming sign

Scott Springs, located in the heart of Ocala, is a really amazing place to bring your family and create unforgettable memories.

Enjoy the great outdoors at this city park, complete with a playground, picnic tables, grills, and no admission fee! This is a charming place to spend the day with the whole family in Ocala.

Here you can explore the hiking trails, either on foot or on your bike, and explore the mesmerizing flora and fauna that line the trails at this beautiful park.

There is a spring located in the center of the park, which is absolutely a sight to behold. However, if you want to go swimming, Scott Springs is not the right place because there is no swimming allowed.

If you want to swim check out Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Rainbow Springs, and Silver Glen Springs!

PRICE: Free

🤩 Range of activities:Large
👪 Family-friendly score:High
🎢 Top paid attraction:Rainbow Springs Kayak Eco-tour
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free activity:Scott Springs
👧 Best attraction for kids:Tubing at Rainbow River

FAQs about Best Natural Springs in Ocala, FL

FAQ Ocala Natural Springs

🌿 Which spring in Ocala is the best?

However, the best spring for enjoying water activities and getting the most bang for your buck is Silver Springs State Park. A close second is Rainbow Springs, which has plenty of fun things to do!

🏊 What springs in Ocala can you swim in?

The best springs to swim in in Ocala are Rainbow Springs, Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, and Silver Glen Springs.

💦What natural springs are near Ocala, FL?

There are literally dozens of springs near Ocala, Florida! A lot of them are situated in the Ocala National Forest. To name a few: Silver Springs, Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and Salt Springs!

🐊 Are there alligators in natural springs in Florida?

Yes! There are alligators in all of Florida’s springs, but they mostly keep to themselves and are afraid of humans. They only become a threat if they are provoked, harassed, or fed by humans, pushing them to overcome their natural fear of humans.

🔁 What springs are closest to Ocala?

The closest springs to Ocala, Florida, include Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs, and Alexander Springs.

✔️ What are the most popular hot springs in Ocala, Florida?

The most popular hot springs in Ocala are Salt Springs, a popular hot springs destination renowned for its crystal-clear waters and lush natural surroundings.

In conclusion

24 best things to do in Ocala at night

I hope you have a good picture of how stunning and breathtaking nature is at the natural springs in Ocala, Florida. I mean, in my opinion, nothing beats the ancient beauty of Florida’s freshwater springs!

While you’re swimming and enjoying the sacred waters at the springs near Ocala, you are being interwoven into an ancient story of humans’ relationship with these incredible waters that bubble up from the Earth.

I hope you found this article helpful and that your trip to the springs near Ocala is as magical as mine was (there’s very little doubt in my mind that you’ll absolutely love your time at the springs near Ocala!)

Don’t forget to explore the Ocala National Forest, as it boasts its own ancient and natural beauty begging to be explored!

With love and gratitude,

Amira G.


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