When people think of Florida vacations, they think of warm weather and sunshine. And while swimming around in the refreshing water of the Florida springs feels so good in summer, there are still plenty of spring adventures to be had as that crisp, cool air gives way to autumn and winter.
A great activity to take advantage of in cooler months is paddling! Many of the springs have rentals available on-site or partner with a company nearby. You can also book a paddle tour. Ecoventure has clear paddleboard tours that explore Rainbow River and Silver Springs. With Get Up And Go Kayaking you can explore the Weeki Wachee River, the land of the mermaids, and in the cooler months, manatees can be spotted on the river. While northern states boast of their golden autumnal colors, here in Florida, we boast our greens and blues. Book a paddle tour with King’s Landing to explore the Emerald Cut, near Orlando, or book a tour with Get Up And Go Kayaking at Gilchrist Blue Springs, near Gainesville. Get Up And Go also has a paddle tour at Merritt’s Mill Pond in Marianna, Florida, in the Panhandle. On the west coast, you paddle the Chassahowitzka River to discover the tunnels of Seven Sister Springs. And if you have a Florida Springs Passport, there is a special discount offered on all these tours.
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Events during the Fall Season
A new offering that started last year at King’s Landing is The Haunting on the Emerald Cut. You will paddle Rock Springs Run around sunset, making your way down the river. Be wary of shipwrecked boats, water ghouls, and mysterious fog. They have a costume contest at the end of the evening, so get creative. There are food trucks for goblins needing a little snack after their paddle. Tickets that include a kayak are $69.00, and it is $34.00 if you bring your own vessel. Break away from traditional haunted houses and corn fields for a unique and haunting Florida experience. Read our article on The Haunting on Emerald Cut HERE
Another special offering only available in the fall is the Time Machine Tour at Ichetucknee Springs. This tour will take you on a journey through the history of Ichetucknee Springs and the area. You will learn about the Spanish settlement that still has remnants remaining, the Timucuan tribe who called “Pond of the Beaver” their home, and the many animals who have inhabited this area.
Spring Activities offered Year-Round
Silver Springs has been a place for vacationers since the Civil War, and they are the originator of the glass bottom boat tours. The tours run constantly throughout the day and are 30 minutes long. Tickets are $13.00 for adults and $12.00 for children and seniors. There is an Extended Tour offered Friday through Monday that is 90 minutes long. Reservations are required for the Extended Tour. On the tour, you will see where they filmed movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon and two Bond movies. The guide will point out and discuss the creatures whose home you will be able to see clearly, as you peer through the double-panned glass bottom. While visiting the Ocala National Forest, be sure to spend some time at Silver Springs, whether it is paddling or gliding down the river on a glass-bottomed boat.
De Leon Springs is famous for its Old Sugar Mill restaurant and its pancakes. A great way to spend a cool fall morning is with a delicious breakfast! Fun and interactive, you sit around a griddle, which is at every table, cooking your pancakes and eggs in an old wooden sugar mill, just like the pioneers. After finishing your hearty breakfast, you can take a boat tour to explore and learn more about the St. John River.
Blue Springs also has a boat tour on the St. John River. The tour is two hours long. You will learn about nature and the ecological importance of the river, as well as enjoy the serene views. The St. John River attaches to many springs and was an important source of travel for those beginning to visit and inhabit Florida. Steamboats chugged down the St. John River, bringing people to Florida and its spring waters.
As the weather cools, it is a great time to check out the hiking trails. Most springs have walking trails that range from less than a mile to 4-5 miles. The trails range from paved, to boardwalk, to dirt paths. As discussed in the Dog-Friendly Springs article, furry friends are free to join you on 90% of the trails. Check out the article to learn about which springs are pet friendly.
The most popular visitor to Florida in the winter is not the snowbirds but the Florida manatee. Manatees start migrating to the consistent 72-degree waters of the Florida spring waters, starting in November, and hang around until early April. The colder the air temperature, the more manatees there will be gathering in the spring. To have the magical opportunity to swim with this sweet sea potato, check out Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River. Tour company Manatee Tour & Dive offers a fantastic tour with a fabulous staff. The tour provides everything you need with a wetsuit, pool noodles, and a knowledgeable guide. Check out the article about our exceptional experience with Manatee Tour & Dive.
If you are hesitant to get in the water with the manatees, no worries. There are plenty of paddling experiences where you can view them from your watercraft. Manatees have been spotted at Weeki Wachee River, Silver Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Blue Springs, and Ichetucknee Springs. Drop in and begin exploring with your own watercraft, rent one, or book a tour with an outside company. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about and view this precious creature.
As the weather gets milder, camping is another activity to enjoy. Most of the springs have campgrounds, with spots available for tent and RV camping. Check out the springs website to book your camping stay. This is a great way to really get to know the springs and take in their full beauty. Imagine crawling out of your tent or stepping out of the RV to the sight of flowing river water, eyes following to the cerulean springhead as you hear the rustle of wind through the tree leaves.
Spring fun is available any time of year! Change up your fall routine from rustic mountain cabins surrounded by changing leaves to paddling blue waters, hiking trails covered by arches of Spanish moss, viewing manatees, eating pancakes in an old sugar mill, and all kinds of Florida fun!