Natural Springs Must-Do Activities in Marion County
Here are Marion County's top must-do activities for natural spring lovers.
For natural parks and springs that feel far from the hustle and bustle but are centrally located and easy to visit, the top eco-tourism destinations of Ocala/Marion County in Florida should not be missed. Home of the famous Ocala National Forest and other popular parks, this area invites visitors to explore more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, including those in Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and Paradise Springs. Each one features special activities that are ideal for nature lovers of all ages.
1. Float on a Tube from Rainbow Springs
Throughout the summer, eco-tourists come early in the morning for a two-hour float along the Rainbow Springs. Even though tubing is not allowed at the headsprings of the state park, the crystal waters are so popular that the park often reaches maximum capacity by mid-morning on weekends and holidays. Tubes — and shuttles back — can be rented from the Marion County Parks Department, called The K.P. Hole. Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest in the state and is popular for snorkeling, swimming, and picnicking too.
2. Scuba Dive In Paradise Springs
Featuring cavern walls covered with prehistoric fossils, Paradise Springs is an amazing scuba dive spot. In clear waters that hover around 72 degrees, divers can discover an underground stream as well as fossilized sand dollars, sea biscuits, and other marine life remains. The cavern is interesting for both newly certified open divers and experienced cave divers alike. Learn more about diving here.
3. RIDE A GLASS-BOTTOM BOAT IN SILVER SPRINGS
Want to explore underwater without getting wet? Take a tour of Silver Springs on the park’s famous glass-bottom boat. The clear spring water allows for a majestic view of marine life in this national natural landmark. With one restaurant in the park and plenty of lodging nearby, Silver Springs is also a popular wedding destination.
4. CANOE AT JUNIPER SPRINGS
Named one of the top 25 canoe runs in America by ReserveAmerica, Juniper Run is just one of the highlights of Juniper Springs. Rent a canoe from the recreation area after a jump in the springs or camping in the private, lush grounds, which feature trails constructed in the mid-1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The historic Juniper Springs Millhouse is also noteworthy, with its functional and charming wooden waterwheel.
5. SNORKELING AT SILVER GLEN SPRINGS
Tucked in the Ocala National Forest near the west side of Lake George, Silver Glen Springs is a favorite locations for swimming and snorkeling. You won't be the only one swimming around enjoying the crystal clear waters. You are almost guaranteed to see the large school of striped bass that like to hang out by the main spring outflow hole, not to mention, turtles, manatees in the winter months, and otters. The marked swimming area is free of boats.
For more information about natural springs and recreation areas, please visit these helpful resources: