Outdoor Activities: Local State Parks & Recreational Areas
As you might know, Florida is literally flooded with natural treasures. There’s a great opportunity to see what true “old Florida” looks like in its natural state, as well as explore the natural destinations, such as freshwater springs, forest trails, and natural settings for wildlife.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of State Parks and Recreational Areas for you to explore while you enjoy your stay with us!
Alexander Springs Recreational Area
Alexander Springs Recreation Area is located in the Ocala National Forest near the beautiful, turquoise waters of Alexander Springs. With forested scenery and abundant water, the recreation area offers camping, swimming, canoeing, scuba diving (for certified divers), hiking, birding and wildlife viewing.
De Leon Springs State Park
The outstanding feature of the 625 acre park is the spring, overlooking beautiful Spring Garden Run, producing 19 million gallons of water a day at 72 degrees year-round. The swimming area is accessible by stairs, ramp and a swimmer lift. Lifeguards are provided during the summer months only and pets are not allowed in or near the swimming area.
Silver Glen Springs Recreational Area
As the sun shines, rainbows play across the bottom of the crystal-clear spring basin at Silver Glen Springs. This beautiful spot along the edge of the Big Scrub offers a spring run that pours out into Lake George, the largest of the St. Johns River Chain of Lakes. Both a popular day use recreation area and an important archaeological site, Silver Glen Springs showcases the delicate balance between enjoyment of the outdoors and preservation of irreplaceable resources.
Juniper Springs Recreational Area
Juniper Springs Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the Ocala National Forest. The location offers deeply shaded sites within walking distance of some of Florida’s most beautiful natural springs. The surrounding recreation area has plenty of activities to entertain visitors, including swimming, picnicking, canoeing, snorkeling, hiking, birding and wildlife viewing.
Salt Springs Recreational Area
Salt Springs Recreation Area is one the recreational jewels of the Ocala National Forest, with a spectacular natural mineral spring that gives the area its name. Plenty of outdoor activities keep campers and day-use visitors busy, including swimming in the springs, fishing, snorkeling, hiking and boating. Salt Springs is located between the St. Johns and Ocklawaha Rivers, 35 miles east of Ocala, Florida.
Blue Springs State Park
Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres, including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. The spring and spring run are closed to all water activity from mid-November to at least mid-March. Swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.
Clearwater Lake Recreational Area
Clearwater Lake Recreation Area offers a quiet getaway along the southeastern edge of the Ocala National Forest, just outside the community of Paisley, Florida. With a shaded campground, day use picnic area, beach and a nature trail that winds through the pine woods and scrub around Clearwater Lake, this facility has plenty of activities to keep campers occupied.
Ravine Gardens State Park
Ravine Gardens State Park is one of the nine New Deal-era state parks in Florida. The park has two ravines up to 120 feet deep with steep banks at 45 degree angles. Unlike common gullies, trenches or sinkholes caused by temporary flooding, the steephead ravines are a permanent feature with a spring-fed creek that never dries up, called Whitewater Branch.
Tomoka State Park
Native Americans once dwelled here, living off fish-filled lagoons. Today, these waters are popular for canoeing, boating, and fishing. The park protects a variety of wildlife habitats and endangered species, such as the West Indian manatee. Tomoka is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with over 160 species sighted, especially during the spring and fall migrations.