Florida has some of the most beautiful natural swimming locales in the country. You should definitely check these out this summer, but remember there are more potential dangers than at the pool (including alligators), and there is usually no lifeguard on duty. Always accompany children and weaker swimmers and research potential dangers before your trip. Be safe and have fun!
1. Wakulla Springs
Near Tallahassee lies one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, swimmers can find an observation and diving platform at the head of the spring. Bonus points: Scuba diving for those certified is allowed at Cherokee Sink, but calling ahead is recommended.
2. Silver Glen Springs
Located in Ocala National Forest, the drop-dead gorgeous surroundings and crystal clear water will blow you away. Bonus points: Ocala National Forest offers year passes for only $60.
3. Fanning Springs
Fanning Springs State Park is located only an hour from Gainesville, on the Suwannee River. The clear blue water stays a perfect 72 degrees year round. Bonus points: There's a designated shallow area for parents with toddlers and others learning to swim.
4. Juniper Springs
Featuring sparkling water under palms and oaks in the Ocala National Forest, Juniper Springs is one of the East Coast's oldest and best loved recreation areas.
5. De Leon Springs State Park
Guests can swim in this historic park (where Ponce De Leon was believed to have visited) at depths up to 30 feet. Children and weak swimmers must stay with an adult swimmer at all times. Bonus points: Start your day pouring your own pancakes at your table at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill. It's located about 30 minutes from Daytona.
6. Wekiwa Springs
The springs at this 7,000-acre park 20 minutes north of Orlando are so popular they often have to turn people away on the weekends, so be sure to arrive early.
7. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Ichetucknee is a very popular place to cool off in the summer, and the head spring is a National Natural Landmark. Bonus points: Every red-blooded Floridian should tube the Ichetucknee at least once.
8. Manatee Springs
This stunning oasis is only 20 minutes from Fanning Springs, so try to fit both into your plans. Use caution when swimming here, as the current is swift.
9. Salt Springs Recreation Area
Salt Springs Recreation Area is another spot located in the Ocala National Forest, and is named for the minerals that give it its slight salinity.
10. Troy Spring State Park
This park in Branford, FL, houses not only a perfect swimming spot but also the remains of a Civil War-era steamboat deliberately sunk by its owner to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. Pretty cool, right?
11. Madison Blue Spring State Park
Visitors here can swim in a crystal clear spring in a limestone basin on the west bank of the Withlacoochee. Scenic woodlands surround this perfect summer picnic spot. Bonus points: Extensive cave diving for those certified. Cave diving can be very dangerous, so leave this to experts if you're not certified.
12. Blue Spring
This spring is a popular tourist destination and manatee refuge in Orange City, FL.
13. Alexander Springs
Alexander Springs Wilderness is also located within Ocala National Forest. This is the only place in Big Scrub where scuba diving is allowed.
14. Rainbow Springs
About two hours north of Tampa in Dunnellon sits one of Florida's most beautiful state parks. Take a swim in the headsprings or tube down the crystal clear Rainbow River. Bonus points: hike through the park and check out the man-made waterfalls firsthand.