Summers in Florida are hot. And humid. And hot. Did I say hot already? And because of the heat and humidity, a Floridian-favorite activity is checking out our many insanely gorgeous springs. And the springs aren’t just for hot days, during the winter months the springs are the best place to kayak, paddle board and catch glimpses of what I believe to be our most magical creature- the manatee. These mammals are huge and adorable…I mean super cute. Like you want to jump on their back and squeeze them as hard as you can in a great big bear hug. But don’t do that. That’s bad.
In addition to spotting these cuddly (but seriously, don’t cuddle them, it’s illegal) giants, springs offer pristine crystal clear and aqua water, huge fish, turtles, birds and the perfect setting for snorkeling, tubing, kayaking and paddle boarding. And because riding is what we do at Sublime Rides, tubing and paddle boarding tend to be our favs.
There are a multitude of springs to explore in Florida and each one has its own personality. But Blue Springs in Orange City tends to be one of my favorites, with the biggest obstacle being simply trying to get in the gates during the summer months. Once it’s filled to capacity, the entrance is shut down. It’s also one of the reasons it’s one of my favorite springs, it’s relaxing, peaceful and it never feels crowded.
If you’re not taking a day trip, I would recommend finding a vacation home or hotel in nearby beautiful New Smyrna Beach and taking a half day to go over to Blue Springs, and enjoy the rest of your vacay in New Smyrna Beach. It’s about a 40 minute drive from the coast over to Blue Springs. If you’re hitting it up on a weekend, you’ll want to arrive before they even open the gates at 8am…yep I know it’s early but that’s what you have to do to get in. If you’re able to go on a week day, that’s what I recommend, and still try to arrive as early as you can. We usually get there by 9am on a week day and have no issues still gaining entrance.
You can pack snacks, coolers, drinks, chairs, etc. but they also have a pretty solid snack shack with refreshments and food. You can bring tubes, paddle boards and snorkel gear, but they do provide rentals if you are from out of town and can’t bring your own gear. And the price of entry can’t be beat at $6 per car. This state park also offers serene nature boat tours and guided kayak tours. Supposedly if you call and book a tour in advance, that will guarantee you entry even if the gates have been closed due to capacity…so something to consider.
The best part about Blue Springs is the tube run, you can find other springs with much longer runs but I like their nice short one. It’s a 5 minute walk up the easy and picturesque trail and about a 15 minute float back to the beginning. It can be shorter or longer, just depends on how quickly you like to float. But the ease of the short trail makes it nice and relaxing. Some springs trails are much, much longer and more treacherous. This one is great for going on many runs or if you have smaller children, this is the spot for you.
Along your float you’ll see a ton of fish, including some huge gar. Manatees don’t usually swim in this area, they stick more toward the no swim areas or the separate area where you can go on longer kayak and paddle board trips. The kayak and paddle board rentals are fairly pricey so if you have your own, definitely bring it.
We did have a minor, very tiny, small issue with some majorly aggressive and abnormally large (this is why you don’t feed wild life people) squirrels on our last trip to Blue Springs. We have never been around such outgoing and slightly terrifying squirrels before. They just would not leave us alone during our picnic near the kayak launch area. One particularly defiant (and weirdly buff) squirrel actually jumped onto my leg in an effort to scale our picnic table and steal some chips. I may or may not have squealed and threw my body to the top of the picnic table, maybe. I probably did. Sounds like something I would do. I can’t completely recall, I think I blacked out when I felt those creepy feet land on my bare leg. *full body shiver*
But moving on…
Blue Springs will give you relief from the summer heat, some beautiful clear water to swim and float in, and some awesome Florida nature to enjoy. Alligators are also frequently spotted in all Florida springs, but I’ve not yet come across one at Blue Springs. So pick a sweltering summer week day, or a quieter winter weekend to go and enjoy this sublime swimming hole. Oh and be prepared for cold water. The temperature stays at a cool 72 degree and it’s quite jolting when you first get in. I recommend just going for it, glide in like a toddler down a slip and slide and just go for it. I promise your body will adjust to the temperature…eventually. Probably. Maybe. Well, at least for most of us. Those of you who don’t handle cold water well, I would get a nice solid float or paddle board to relax on.
10 things to pack for Blue Springs State Park:
- Paddle boards/kayak.
- Goggles/snorkel gear.
- Bathing suits.
- Drinks, food, cooler, water & ice.
- Folding beach chairs.
- Towels & dry clothes.
- Money for concessions and rentals.
- Waterproof camera/case.
- Trolling motor/anchors.
- First Aid kit & squirrel spray (kidding, but this invention has some merit).
Stay tuned to see where I go next, what adventures, mishaps and possible rides I’ll get into.