Our family lives in the Daytona Beach area, but we planned out a three day trip to check out springs on the Gulf side. We spent three days going to springs in Florida's Nature Coast. What a great time!
The first day we went to Fanning Springs, the second day we went to Manatee Springs, and then today we went to Hart Springs. We stayed two nights at the Days Inn, located in Chiefland. It was only $100 for the two nights, and it is within 10-20 minutes of each of these three springs (and others that we didn't have time to check out on this trip).
Hart Springs is hidden away back among many farms. When you pull in you do not pay at the ranger station, instead you go ahead and pay at the store. Just walk in and pay the counter. It is $12 for a car of up to six people. They give you a wrist band to put on. This park has many pavilions available to use, and what is really neat is that you can pull your car right up to some them. Our car was parked next to our pavilion, making it easy to get everything out we needed. And the pavilion is not far from entering the water.
We started out by taking the boardwalk nature trail that goes along the Suwannee River. You could take a wheelchair or stroller on this, as it's all boardwalk. What a beautiful walk! It is so peaceful and I just loved it. It takes you along the river, offering multiple points to stop and enjoy the view. It then takes you through a cypress swamp area. Nearly the whole trail is shaded by the trees. The boardwalk ends at the tent camping area. You just walk through that and head back to the right to the springs. There were a lot of people tent camping, despite it being summer. The total boardwalk loop was only .6 miles. It is a must to take this beautiful walk!
After the walk it was time to get into the springs. The park has a couple of buildings that can be rented for events, restrooms, and the store. Hart Springs is one of the largest springs in the area. It offers a large swimming area and two spring heads, both at opposite ends of the swimming areas. There are plenty of shallow areas on both sides for those with kids. They also have a diving platform that kept people busy and having fun.
One of the spring heads was closed off, so we couldn't snorkel over it. But we did snorkel over the other one many times. We spent a lot of time snorkeling around both areas of the spring, and the kids and my husband had fun with the diving platform (I don't dive). We had a great time swimming around and as always, we enjoyed the refreshing cool water. there are no lifeguards on duty. When the thunder rolled in, nearly everyone got out of the water. It was perfect timing, because it was lunch time. We went over to our pavilion to take a break and eat lunch. By the time we were finished the rain had passed and we went back into the springs for a while.
Two thumbs up for Hart Springs. We love the Nature Coast and all the beauty that it has to offer. This is a great spring to check out and those will little kids will love all the shallow areas they can explore.
You can get more info about Hart Springs here. Below are pictures and videos from our time at Hart Springs today: