Cool Things to Do in Florida: The Best Natural Springs and Lakes Near St. Petersburg, Florida

Did you know that Florida has nearly 900 natural springs bubbling up to the surface of this beautiful land? Some say it's the largest natural springs collection on Earth! These springs form Florida's beautiful lakes - endless day trip options for you and your family to cool off and enjoy the Florida sun.

Looking for a natural escape near St. Petersburg, Florida? Read this blog post to see what 7 amazing natural springs and lakes we found for you! With crystal-clear water and lush vegetation, they are the perfect places to relax and rejuvenate.

 

The 7 Most Beautiful Natural Springs and Lakes Near St. Petersburg, Florida:


#1: Blue Spring State Park

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At approximately 2:30 driving time from St. Petersburg, Florida, you will find Blue Spring State Park, the largest spring on the St. Johns River. It is a designated Manatee Refuge and winter home (November through March) for a colony of West Indian Manatees. For centuries, this spring area was home to Native Americans. 

While swimming or diving with the manatees is not permitted, fishing, canoeing, and boating are popular on the river. For scuba divers, up-to-date accreditation cards are required at the entrance station. 

You can select from various water excursions available at the Blue Spring State Park. There are numerous picnic sites and walking trails for a day trip. Air-conditioned cabins, rustic campsites, and a comprehensive campground are available for an overnight stay.

Annual entrance passes may be purchased at any park ranger station or a museum. Off-peak passes are sold on weekdays during regular business hours 365 days a year.

 

#2: Homosassa Springs

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The town of Homosassa Springs, Florida, is about 1.5 hour's drive from St. Petersburg. It is built around and named after its most magnificent natural feature - Homosassa Springs. 

For thousands of years, the mainspring at Homosassa has lured both people and animals. The beautiful area surrounding this spring is home to various animals, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers from all over the world.

The Homosassa Springs is home to a wide range of salt and freshwater fish species. It is recognized for its historical significance as a wintering site for West Indian manatees. Come and visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to see many animals that call this place home!

 

#3: Rainbow Springs State Park

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Rainbow Springs State Park, about 2 hours from St. Petersburg, is home to the headspring of the Rainbow River, one of Florida's most beautiful and well-known waterways. The Manatee River was once known as a beautiful and popular family-owned attraction. The spring became part of the Florida State Park System in 1990.

The Rainbow River, which flows through the Everglades national park in Florida and empties into Biscayne Bay, might be called the state's natural swimming pool. The white sandy bottom is sandwiched between areas of smooth limestone, giving it a "pool-like" appearance.

Swimmers may swim in the main park spring, which has a rope-off zone and a dock with steps for easy access to the spring. Outside the park, visitors float down the river in inner tubes, frequently stopping to leap off ropes secured to overhanging tree branches. The leisurely current of the river determines the speed, as little springs bubble up and flow into the river.

 

#4: Wekiwa Springs State Park

The Best Natural Springs and Lakes Near St. Petersburg, Florida

 

Wekiwa Springs is located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, about 2 hours from St. Petersburg. It's a true haven for relaxation! 

The park offers 13 miles of hiking and cycling paths and equestrian opportunities. The Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, which flow from Crystal Lake to the east, are popular canoeing and kayaking sites. 

There is a full-facility campground and 60 campsites available for rent. Water, electricity, a fire ring with a grill and picnic table, and an in-ground fireplace are all available at each campsite. Pets are not allowed. 

Otter Camp and Big Buck Camp (canoe or kayak only access) are on the beautiful Rock Springs Run. Visit one of the two Wekiwa Springs State Park stables to begin the adventure! 

 

 

#5: Crystal River Preserve State Park

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Crystal River Preserve sprawls over more than 27,500 acres. Many sections of the park are still unspoiled, allowing visitors to see what this region of Florida looked like hundreds of years ago. The park's location in a natural area, combined with its remote and rural setting, enhances the illusion of time travel.

Eelgrass beds are the bays of refuge where freshwater and ocean water mingle. The preserve's swamps assist in recharging Florida's aquifer, making the region vital for wildlife and human societies. The pond is year-round hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, and birdwatching destination. 

Freshwater from various springs in Crystal River mixes with the salty seawater from the Gulf of Mexico every day.

Crystal River Preserve State Park provides a variety of activities to try at your own pace and on your schedule. Have a picnic in the park or just watch the action on the river with your family or friends! 

If you don't have much time, go for a trail walk on weekends or mornings. There are five hiking paths in the Crystal River Preserve State Park, with plenty of butterflies and blossoming wildflowers. Consider heading into the preserve by boat or kayak to enjoy some beautiful paddling along its numerous tidal creeks.

 

#6: Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

From its inception in 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has enthralled tourists with its stunning beauty. One of Florida's most distinctive roadside attractions is this legendary enchanted spring, the world's only surviving example. It's a perfect location for both leisure and adventure, with its stunning scenery, warm beaches, and various water sports.

This lovely seaside resort transforms into a sparkling star at nightfall when the fluttering lights transform the cityscape. The beautiful city center is full of cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and charming streets ideal for strolling or cycling during the day. 

The perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life! At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, you can watch a show of live mermaids, go on a riverboat cruise, learn about Florida wildlife, or dip in the crystal-clear water. The park also offers kayaking, canoeing, and tubing down the sparkling Weeki Wachee River.

Buccaneer Bay Waterpark, located inside Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, offers four giant water slides, a large pirate ship, and a lazy river. 

Buccaneer Bay is also a great birdwatching spot as it is home to a wide variety of feathered friends. The park provides free binoculars and bird identification guides to help you spot these beautiful creatures.

To experience the park's natural splendor and wildlife up close, take a 3-hour, 5.5-mile float down the Weeki Wachee River. The river's gentle current will take you through the pristine Florida wilderness. You may glide right over the distinctive West Indian manatee, turtles and fish, pelicans and wood storks, rare otters, ospreys, and bald eagles. You might even catch a glimpse of an alligator or Florida panther!

 

#7: Devil's Den

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Our final selection is the natural marvel of Devil's Den. It was purchased by the current owners in 1993 and has since transformed from a simple scuba diving site to a world-class tourist destination. Visit Devil's Den Spring, one of North America's most ancient sites! 

The University of Florida Museum of Natural History has a paleontological collection of bones from extinct animals that have lived in the region for hundreds of thousands of years. 

On chilly winter days, you may notice steam, similar to smoke, seeping out of the chimney. As a result, the early settlers dubbed the site "Devil's Den." Devil's Den is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. 

 

In Conclusion 

There you have it! Our seven must-see parks with natural springs and lakes near St. Petersburg, Florida, offer a little something for everyone to enjoy. You won't be able to get enough of all the beautiful and unique things you'll discover in this stunning paradise! 

 

MORE ABOUT ST. PETERSBURG AND THE SURROUNDINGS, FLORIDA