Floridians seem to know all the secret gems of Florida and Ginnie Springs is no exception. Located 45 minutes northwest of Gainesville and two hours north of Orlando, Ginnie Springs is a reasonable trip considering all of the activities and amenities it offers. It’s a privately owned company that has everything under the sun including scuba diving & certification, tubing, swimming/snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and camping. It’s a big park, over 200 acres that stretch along the Santa Fe River.
Ginnie Springs is a luscious green space filled with tall, shady trees and freshwater springs. It feels decidedly like North Florida with wooded meadows and much less like the stereotypical swampland Florida gets the rep for having. There are five springs with entrance points for people to swim around at or to enter the Santa Fe River. The most popular ones for day-visitors to hang out around are Ginnie Springs and Devil Spring System which are larger and arguably prettier. The tube run entrance starts on the river and a slow current pulls you along for about an hour and a half until you reach the last tube exit point. The springs stay at a constant 72° and the river can feel like bath water.
Scuba divers can explore the Devil Spring System but only experienced cave divers should venture past the underwater sign with the grim reaper on it. Caves are notorious for claiming divers’ lives because of how confusing and similar the system can be. Kayaks and canoes are a fun way to explore upriver and get a decent arm workout in (although Erik *might* have done most of the paddling).
The rentals are a great price to: $10 for a canoe/kayak for 2 hours, $5 for a tube all day. They have full scuba gear rental as well. The part that can get pricey is that the camping fees are per person, per day. At $21/person, a large group will really set you back.
All of the campsites are quite spacious and can easily fit 5 tents. In some groups we counted 10 tents! We were lucky enough to snag a corner lot so we had less neighbors and more space. Score! The wilderness sites don’t have electricity but there are plenty of full facility bathrooms and water spigots throughout the area. If you are looking for a quieter campsite, stick to The Outback area. The sites are separated by trees and shrubbery and are farther apart. If you have a large group (20 people) or you want to be in the middle of the party then head on down to Beaver Landing or the electric hook-up sites.
Holidays at Ginnie Springs
Erik and I got to experience the constant, thronging party that is 4th of July weekend at Ginnie Springs. It was definitely a one of a kind experience. People from all walks of life gather together to drink, play music, and float down the river; in no particular order. Tricked out Gator Utility Vehicles adorned in flashing neon lights and sub woofers peeled out around the dirt roads in a very Mad Max-esque kind of way. College students from the University of Florida and Florida State University brought their own beer pong tables and Yetti coolers. People had set up streamers, strings of lights, and large tarps to make their campsite quite homey. And then there’s Erik and I using a magnesium fire starter, drinking wine out of a bag, and dancing around to The Beach Boys.
Ginnie Springs had some planned festivities for the holiday as well. They had live music and an impressive fireworks show. They must’ve bought the entire Black Cat Fireworks store because those were legit mortars.
For a holiday weekend, get there early. We arrived on Friday and had a lot of sites to pick from (I think we got the best one). On Saturday mid-day, there was not a single campsite available.
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All images are taken by me or my family and are property of PPT.