Yesterday, we decided to check out Lithia Springs, located in the Tampa area. A second magnitude spring, Lithia releases around 6.4 million gallons of water per day. Lithia Springs is a county park, with the fee being $2 per vehicle, and $2 per person. It was $10 for our family of four to get in to swim in the spring. The park is nice, with many trees around and plenty of parking. There are also picnic tables all around and grassy areas where you can set up chairs and create a picnic area. The spring at Lithia is completely fenced in, with only one entry point into and out of the spring area. You are allowed to take your chairs and and towels and things inside the fenced area and set up on the grass, but there are some restrictions on what you can take into that area (such as food), so many people set up their things at the picnic tables and grassy areas outside of the fenced areas.
When you enter Lithia Springs for swimming, you get a wristband for each person. There are numerous lifeguards on duty at the spring, with the spread throughout the large spring swimming area. The water felt great, there were many fish to see, loads of little shells, and the majority of it is quite shallow. The only area that is deep is right over the main vent, which goes to 9 feet and is covered with grate. There were a lot of fish of all size swimming around the spring and especially above the grate where the vent is. There is a second vent, but you cannot access it in the swimming area. You exit the gated area and walk the paved path back near the trees to see it. You can walk right up to there that small spring head is and it is gorgeous! We stood there for a while watching it, because it was so cool. It looked like nature's aquarium! The water was crystal clear and there were lots of fish swimming around, as well as a nice size turtle. The area around that small spring is gorgeous! It is closed off and protected, but you can still watch it and take pictures.
The park takes safety seriously. They have lifeguards on duty and they do a 15-minute safety check every two hours. During the safety check they get everyone out of the water while it is conducted. Once the 15-minute check is over, everyone can go back in. They also have a list of rules up, and they have the areas of the spring roped off, so you know where it gets deeper (children under 12 have to be with an adult to be in the deeper area).
The park also has a food vendor and restrooms (although they are a long walk from the spring). The picnic tables offer grills and plenty of shade. They also offer kayak rentals and launching, and they have camping. While we didn't stay at the campground, we did take a drive through to check it out since we have an RV. I took some pictures of the campground (below), which we thought was quite nice. Some spaces are kind of close together, while others had a nice tree buffer around it. We would be happy to camp there. They offer tent camping, as well as RV camping (they have electric and water hook-ups, but no sewer, they do have a dump station). Very nice campground with spring swimming access close by.
Overall, we liked it at Lithia Springs. While it doesn't make my list of favorite springs, I do think it's a great spring for little kids, because it's mostly shallow and there is a lot for them to see and explore. Two thumbs up for this county park that is well maintained and a nice place to take the kids to cool off on a hot summer day!
Pictured below: The swimming area, the small spring head where you can't swim, and the campground.