Through miles of lush tangled swampland, swaying rows of towering pines, and a smattering of small backwoods North Florida towns, you’ll find 3 beautiful natural freshwater springs.
These cool, crisp swimming holes, known mostly to locals, are as beautiful as they are fun!
Growing up in this area, my husband and I spent the first 20 years of our lives swimming in these turquoise waters. We loved going to the springs as kids and now we love taking our kids on the same adventure!
Here are 3 natural springs in Northwest Florida that you definitely don’t want to miss:
Vortex Springs in Ponce de Leon, Florida is one of the only privately owned springs left in the state. Every day, this spring produces 32 million gallons of crystal clear water. That maintains an year-round temperature of 68 degrees.
Since this spring is privately owned it’s ‘more fun’ than the other springs in the area, at least according to my kids. There are 10 water slides, diving board, high dive platform, and rope swing. In addition to tubing down Blue Creek, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding.
The downside, however, is that they charge higher prices than the public springs. This summer (2019) general admission was $10/adult and $8/child. (Check their website for updated pricing and events.)
Despite the higher admission, if you have kids, you don’t want to miss this spring! They will have a blast!
Ponce de Leon Springs
Ponce de Leon Springs is another gorgeous natural spring open to the public as a state park. As a state park, entry is much cheaper at only $4 per car.
Pumping out 14 million gallons of gin-clear water every day, it is open for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and hiking. There are also several pavilions, picnic tables, and grills making it the perfect place for a picnic.
There is a platform for the kids to jump off of and a shallow spring run that is perfect for smaller children. In fact, if I had young kids Ponce de Leon would be my spring of choice. I was able to set my chair in the shallow water and read a book while the older kids jumped from the platform and my youngest helped her dad find crawfish in the ‘creek’.
Morrison Springs, also in Ponce de Leon, Florida, is a natural spring that flows directly into the Choctawhatchee River. Since it’s a county owned park, there is no entrance fee and is open for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking. (We visited this spring as part of our Deployment Bucket List.)
Pumping out 48 million gallons of crystal clear water each day, Morrison Springs remains the most undeveloped of the springs listed here. When we were kids, there wasn’t a park at the springs, just a boat ramp and an old rope swing. In recent years, the county bought the property and added a pavilion, restrooms, boardwalk, and floating dock.
Still, this park retains it’s wild and natural ‘look’. The 161-acre park abounds with cypress trees that still continue to grow out of the water near the swimming area.
These Northwest Florida springs are all pretty close together. Vortex is the northernmost spring, 5.2 miles south is Ponce de Leon, and 5.4 miles further south is Morrison. You could easily see all 3 springs in the same day.
However, I recommend spending as much time as you can exploring each one. Take the time to not only take in the spring/aquifer area, but walk, paddle, or tube down the spring run as well. Each park also has trails that can’t be ruled out if the weather doesn’t permit swimming. You won’t be disappointed!