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7 Reasons You’ll Love Rainbow Springs, Florida

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Although I used to visit Rainbow Springs State Park a lot in my University of Florida days it had been almost eight years since my last visit.

Last time I was here I took Jeremy for his first “real Florida” adventure, canoeing down the Rainbow River. He was amazed by the turquoise tint of the water and fell in love with the natural beauty of Florida.

Florida almost had him completely under her spell, until a ten-foot gator sauntered off the bank and disappeared below the surface of the Rainbow River. I had never seen Jeremy paddle so fast. Of course, that was the last time I convinced Jeremy to go canoeing with me in Florida.

Jeremy wasn’t with me on this trip to my sunny home state, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying some of my favorite natural beauty spots of North Central Florida. I’m excited to show you just why you’ll also love Rainbow Springs and the “real Florida”.

Pinterest Image & Reasons To Love Rainbow Springs

7 Reasons You'll Love Rainbow Springs, Florida

1) Canoe, Kayak Or Paddle Board The Rainbow River

The most popular activity at Rainbow Springs State Park is renting a canoe or kayak and getting out on the stunningly turquoise Rainbow River. You can even rent clear kayaks for a unique glass bottom boat experience. Come early though, with limited supplies they go quickly.

Tip: From April through September, you can also tube the Rainbow River.

Kayakers enjoying Rainbow Springs, Florida

2) Take A Dip In The Unique Water Of Rainbow Springs

Just look at that water! Have you ever seen anything more inviting?

Though our springs stay a comfortable 72°F year-round, it’s still a little chilly for a Floridian until summer. In the winter months you can practically have the pool to yourself, especially in the mornings. 

Ladder for the swimming pool area at Rainbow Springs, Florida
swimming pool area at Rainbow Springs, Florida

Florida Springs Headed For Tragedy

I’m heartbroken. The state is failing to protect our delicate natural springs from corporations. For example, BlueTriton (formerly Nestle Water) received permits to pump out nearly 1 million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs to sell as bottled water, 30% more than environmental scientists say it can handle. explains the situation further.

In protest, we are donating members of the Florida Springs Council, a non-profit coalition leading the legal battle against these damaging permits. We are also boycotting Blue Triton brands, including Deer Park and Zephyrhills bottled water. 

We encourage you to get informed on the issue and support the fight to protect Florida’s most important natural resource. 

Now back to your regularly scheduled program…

3) Search For Wildlife

It wouldn’t be natural Florida without our beloved wildlife. It’s common to see otters among the reeds and turtles sunning themselves on logs. As the water is crystal clear you can also see all the fish.

Alligators are also around. Though you’re more likely to see them down Rainbow River rather than near the spring. Like Floridians, they think 72°F is chilly too.

Tip: Rainbow Springs has several boardwalks and lookout points to check out the wildlife from the shoreline.

Turtles lounging in the Rainbow Springs River, Dunnellon, Florida

4) Stroll Through The Tropical Gardens

Though summer is a popular time to visit Rainbow Springs, March treats visitors to a multicolored tropical paradise when the azaleas bloom. Plus, if you’re not one for crowds, screaming kids, or blistering heat, early spring is the ideal time visit.

Don’t worry the flowers and foliage are beautiful most of the year. March just happens to be my favorite time.

pink azalea flowers at Rainbow Springs, Florida

5) Stroll Through The Park's History

Back in the 1960’s Rainbow Springs was an actual attraction, complete with expansive gardens, glass boat rides, and even a zoo. The park ran until 1974.

Towards the back of the park is the old zoo.  It’s nice to see the small cages and fencing being taken back by mother nature as vines wrap tightly around the wire mesh.

Sign for the former Zoo Complex at Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon, Florida

6) Enjoy The Waterfalls

Who knew Florida had waterfalls? These are more remnants from the days of being an attraction. Created from the natural springs, there are four waterfalls to find among the foliage. 

small waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon, Florida
Large waterfall at Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon, Florida

7) Take A Hike In The Woods

Just beyond the retired zoo is a 1.73-mile hiking trail which leads off into the palm tree lined forest. It’s a lovely way to spend an hour.

Black bears (and of course snakes) live in these woods. So you’re always better hiking with a buddy in Florida, even on short trails.

Hiking trail at Rainbow Springs, Florida

As I prepare to pack my bags and head back to North Carolina I can’t help but be a little homesick for Florida already. Is it possible to be homesick before you even leave?

I hope I’ve convinced you to check out Rainbow Springs so you can fall in love with the real Florida too.

What natural attraction has a special place in your heart? Let me know in the comments below.

For more posts on Florida check out:

Where To Stay For Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs State Park is located at 19158 SW 81st Pl Rd, Dunnellon, Florida 34432. The park is approximately 1.5 hours away from both Tampa and Orlando, making it a convenient day trip from either location.

  • The Rainbow Springs Campground is just outside the state park but is a favorite of locals and those passing through.
  • If you’re staying more than a few days check or Airbnb for house rentals right on the river. There’s no better way to spend your time.
  •  Alternatively, the nearby Comfort Inn makes an affordable and convenient option.
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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Lannis Rackowski

    we just left Rainbow springs, the head waters may be GREAT but only if you can get in, we NEVER saw it. We were at the campground for 2 weeks, camping fine, you should be ashamed to call the rock filled area a place to swim. you could kill yourself just getting into the water. We will NEVER return.

    1. Nicole

      Glad you enjoyed camping. Being so close for two weeks, I’m confused why you couldn’t get into the park. I was there in March and had no issues. Parks everywhere are limiting capacity due to Covid, but the springs didn’t get busy until lunch. Oh my, since you didn’t go to the park, the beautifully clear water in my photos may be deceiving. The dedicated swimming area is between 10 to 18 feet deep. You’d be pretty talented to hurt yourself on those rocks at the bottom. 😉

    2. chris Boyette

      Lannis So sorry you missed the whole point of the adventure. This is a preserve not a man made environment. Just the way nature made it. Thank GOD we have people to keep things that way. I have been going to the rainbow springs since 1955 off and on. What a change in time. I was there when it was not a paid park ,Then when they made it a theme park Then in the 70’s & 80’s we camped in the campground and boated up to the headwaters and snorkled down. One of Floridas most beautiful treasurers. And it’s ok if your never come back. More room for us floridians who are proud of our natural wonders.

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