Salt Springs @ Ft. McCoy, FL
Photos by Kelsey and Scott Walters
Summer has officially arrived in Florida and there are really only two ways to cool off – stay in the air conditioning, or head out to the water.
Seeing as Florida is nearly completely surrounded by the stuff, it isn’t hard to do and there is no shortage of fresh water either. If you want a cool, refreshing day, but still want a little salt in your hair for the true beach vibe, then Salt Springs is the place for you.
Things to Do in Central Florida
A few years ago, my husband, Scott, and I began an annual tradition we call “Spring into Summer,” where we attempt to visit as many natural springs as possible that summer. With over 900 of them sprinkled throughout the state, there’s no shortage of stops to check off our list. Each year, we visit a few of our old favorites and find new, unique ones to explore.
Salt Springs piqued my interest with its name alone. Florida springs are fed from the underground aquifer through sinkholes and fissures in the earth’s surface. They are all the same consistent temperature around 74 degrees and each pump out millions of gallons of crystal clear, fresh water daily. That doesn’t exactly scream “salty.”
What You’ll Find at Salt Springs
The water in Salt Springs passes through underground salt deposits as it makes its way to the surface, picking up small amounts of potassium, magnesium and sodium, giving it a slightly salty taste, but still clear and cool.
Situated in Ocala National Forest, Salt Springs isn’t one of the most well-known watering holes in our area like Blue Springs, so luckily, it doesn’t get quite as crowded on an average weekend. In the event that it does start to fill up or you want to join our quest to spring into summer, there are a few in the area to choose from. Salt Springs is part of a small system of springs that feed into Florida’s second largest lake, Lake George. Your nearby options include Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs, Silver Springs and Silver Glen Springs, making it easy to spring hop.
On this year’s Spring into Summer, we added a new member to the expedition – our four-month-old daughter, Avery. Before she was even born, we’ve been referring to her as our little mermaid and she absolutely lives up to her nickname with her love of water. She adores bath time so much that she pouts and pitches a tiny baby fit (that’s hard to take seriously) when it’s time to get out of the tub. With that in mind, we figured it was time for her to graduate from her mini, snail-shaped backyard pool to a real body of water.
My dad, Lonnie (AKA Avery’s Pops), tagged along for the fun and to do his favorite thing in the world, snuggle her as she napped while we explored the deeper parts of the spring. Salt Springs is a pretty ideal spot for families with smaller children as much of it is shallow with a soft, sandy bottom.
Most of the water is between two and five feet deep, with large limestone rocks in the deeper areas to stand on. The three boils, or openings to the underground aquifer, are surrounded by the rocks, making it easy to stand and peer down through the clear water into the 20-foot deep cavern below.
Avery wasn’t so sure about the cooler water at first, just dipping her toes in and raising a skeptical eyebrow. After a couple minutes, her doubt turned to pure excitement when she realized she was surround by her favorite thing. She kicked her tiny feet and smacked the water with squeals of joy until she wore herself out.
Salt Springs is enclosed on three sides and surrounded by a concrete wall and lush vegetation, with stairways to enter the water. The shallows are surrounded by massive oaks, providing plenty of shade for the little swimmers. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a classic floppy hat for fun in the sun!
Camping and canoe rentals available
Looking for more things to do similar to Salt Springs? Check out:
Looking for things to do in Central Florida? Check out:
- Harry P. Leu Gardens
- Skeletons: A Museum of Osteology
- Smooth Waters Wildlife Park – Deleon Springs
- Obloy Family Ranch – Merritt Island
- Ever After U-Pick Blueberry Farm
- Dudley Farm Historic State Park
- Pirate and Treasure Museum
- Presidents Hall of Fame and Citrus Tower
- Mount Dora Ghost Tours
- Crayola Experience Orlando