Florida has one of the largest concentrations of natural springs in the world. In fact, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the Sunshine State boasts more than 900 natural springs. About 40 are open to the public and, yes, a tube can make for a great exploration vessel. Explore Florida’s waterways by hopping into a tube to drift alongside your partner. Here are our picks for the best places to go tubing in Florida:
Buccaneer Bay at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Buccaneer Bay is Florida’s only natural springs water park! In addition to the water slides and real mermaids there’s also a short natural lazy river that hugs the water park. Tubes are available for rent on site for an extra fee. Plan to arrive early because the park often fills to capacity, especially on weekends.
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park | Apopka
Wekiwa Springs converges with Rock Springs, a crater-edged creek within Kelly Park, to form the headwaters of the 17-mile-long Wekiva River leading to the St. Johns River. Rock Springs Run is a brisk 67°F stream adored by tubers and kayakers. Be sure to bring your own float or rent one at the roadside concession before entering the park (around $7 each). It’s okay to use a pool noodle or float less than 5 feet in length.
This is a shorter tube run that can easily be enjoyed multiple times throughout your visit. Pack a picnic to enjoy during a break from the water. Plan for a drive of about 1 1/2 hours from Tampa.
You can also launch a canoe or kayak from Kings Landing to twist your way amongst alligators, birds, turtles, otters and rarely-seen monkeys. Like Orlando-area theme parks, Kelly Park can get packed, so arrive early before park capacity is met.
Park entry: $3-$5 per vehicle (depending on how many people are in the car)
Ichetucknee Springs State Park | Fort White
Considered the crown jewel of tubing destinations, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is located about 2 1/2 hours north of Tampa, just beyond Alachua. Ichetucknee is actually a cluster of nine springs that collectively gush well over 200 million gallons of brisk water every day. Named as a National Natural Landmark, archaeologists discovered two Indian mounds and a village site on the grounds.
The 72-degree spring-fed water is crystal clear so you can see all the way down to the white sandy bottom. You’ll discover fish, turtles and more. Ichetucknee Springs is described as a peaceful place where stress simply drifts away. To experience it, bring your own tube or rent one from either the park stand or an outside vendor. Tubing is accessible from the south entrance.
FYI: the park limits the number of daily visitors (so arrive early) and imported items, i.e. potential trash such as food and disposables.
Park entry: $6 per car; plus an option for $5.50 tram service or $7.50 shuttle service
Rainbow Springs State Park | Dunnellon
Archaeologists believe that people have been using Rainbow Spring, Florida’s fourth largest spring with a pool 250 feet wide, for nearly 10,000 years! For about 30 years starting in the 1930s, the site was a privately-owned family amusement park with gardens, waterfalls, a zoo and even a rodeo space. Eventually, the land was restored and preserved, earning a National Natural Landmark designation.
Situated about 1 ½ hours north of Tampa, visitors are often amazed by this spring’s unusual sand boils, lush aquatic plants and brilliant white limestone, paired with remaining man-made park elements including waterfalls and azalea gardens.
Those looking to tube should access the tube-specific entrance. It’s about nine miles from the main headsprings entrance. (Tubing is not allowed within the headsprings area of the park.) Once inside, rent a tube ($20) and catch the shuttle service. You’ll then embark on a two-hour leisurely drift. For a longer float, start outside the park at KP Hole.
FYI: Tubing is offered on weekends only through September 28. Tubing is not available November-March.
Park entry: $5 per vehicle
Blue Spring State Park | Orange City
Just over 2 hours from Tampa, Blue Spring is the largest spring on the St. John’s River, spewing 104 million gallons of water every day. The stunning 73°F waterway is famous for its population of manatees, which migrate south during the winter.
Outdoor enthusiasts can rent tubes and launch off of a gravel bank. Florida State Parks suggests you “enter the water at the upper entry, swim to the spring boil and float back down to the main swim dock.” The float run is just an eighth of a mile.
You may also want to dive within the circular spring to explore the vertical cave; take a boat cruise on the St. John’s River; and enjoy a plethora of park amenities, such as birding and hiking. Rest up overnight in a cabin or tent.
Park entry: $6 per vehicle
- Madison Blue Spring State Park | Lee
- Ginnie Springs | High Springs
- Blackwater River State Park | Holt
- Spring Creek | Marianna
Tubing at the Theme Park
Adventure Island in Tampa
Grab a tube and float along the Rambling Bayou, a half mile long lazy river that takes you through the water park among the water slides and beautiful landscapes.
Tubing in Florida at Resort Lazy Rivers
For a tubing in Florida adventure complete with resort amenities, hop in a tube and float down a man-made marvel with an overnight getaway or day use pass to a nearby Orlando resort.
Surrounded by 1,200 acres of wetlands, Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate offers several dining spots, two golf courses, a full-service spa and two pools with an 850-foot lazy river stocked with tubes. You can purchase a day pass through ResortPass, or book an overnight stay to enjoy all of the resort amenities.
Hilton Orlando also offers day passes through ResortPass and has two pools and an 892-foot long lazy river with waterfalls, fountains and water cannons. You’ll also be granted access to the hotel’s epic pools with a spa appointment at Eforea Spa.
For something more exclusive, book an overnight getaway to access the epic waterpark and lazy river at Reunion Resort. Grande Lakes Orlando, home to The Ritz-Carlton Orlando and JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, also boasts a winding lazy river and three unique pools, including an adults-only lap pool at The Spa.
Feature image credit: @jaylorenzo814
Note: This post was originally published on our sister site, Orlando Date Night Guide.