Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida, is home one of the most beloved freshwater springs in the state; a first-magnitude beauty that pumps out 102 gallons of clear, 73-degree freshwater on a daily basis. Feeding into the Saint Johns River, the spring itself begins at a nearly circular spring pool, surrounded by steep banks on three sides. At the center of the pool lies the vent, easily distinguishable by the "boil" created by the upwelling of water. Certified cave scuba divers are attracted to this opening, which is the entrance to a geologically important underwater cave system. Swimmers can also enjoy a peek at the wonders below with a quick dip beneath the surface; the water is approximately 20 feet above the vent, and the pristine visibility offers a clear view straight down into the depths. After viewing, many swimmers enjoy riding the natural lazy river created by the spring's flow, either relaxing on a tube or snorkeling their way upstream.
The state park surrounding the spring is expansive and well-maintained, sprawling over 2,600 acres and including a scenic boardwalk, a 3.6-mile nature trail (one way), a large picnic area with pavilions and tables, a playground, and a concessionaire. A water activity rental station is also available with tube, kayak and canoe rentals. For those who'd prefer to stay dry, there is a two-hour ecological Saint Johns River boat tour that runs twice daily and offers a first class look at the ecosystem supported by the spring. Keep an eye out for ripples on the water while you ride. Blue Spring State Park is famous for being home to the federally protected West Indian manatee.
For those looking to extend their stay, a 51-site campground is nestled a short walk away from the spring, complete with RV-accessible electric and water hookup sites. Cabins are also available for rent with a minimum two-night stay; they sleep up to six people and come with a fully equipped kitchen and outdoor grill. It is best to reserve early, as these sites and cabins are typically booked quickly. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
Water access at this park is closed during the mid-fall to early spring months when the area functions as a manatee sanctuary. Viewing from the boardwalk is available year round.