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SOUTHEAST | FLOR IDA

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GINNIE SPRINGS HIGH SPRINGS

Forget the crowded beaches — cold springs are where Florida’s locals go

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BY SUSAN SHAIN

hen I asked my boyfriend why we were going to one of Florida's cold springs instead of a sandy beach, his response was all the convincing I needed: “Because it's like swimming in a water bottle.” The state has approximately 1,000 natural cold springs — more than any other state — that discharge 19 billion gallons of fresh water each day. And the water does look like it could be sold in stores. It’s crystal clear and a cool 68 to 70 degrees, year-round. Add in the fact that many springs are surrounded by lush vegetation and are home to abundant wildlife, and

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visiting them quickly became my favorite way to absorb the state’s natural beauty. “Florida’s springs are unique ecosystems that are connected to the Floridan aquifer, which supplies most of the state’s drinking water,” says Heather Obara, associate director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute. “Visit one of Florida’s majestic springs and you will fall in love instantly.” Chris Anastasiou, chief environmental scientist for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, echoes that sentiment: “Florida’s springs are the windows into our collective soul.” Whether you want to kayak, see manatees or just relax, one of these six springs might be just what you’re looking for.

7300 N.E. Ginnie Springs Rd.; 386-454-7188; ginniesprings outdoors.com

PETE PONTONE

Cool Dives

Fancy a cocktail with your float? Steer your rental car north to Ginnie Springs. Unlike the other springs on this list, it’s private, which means alcohol is allowed. The property's seven springs are all connected by the Santa Fe River. You can travel via tube, drink in hand, or you can rent canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. It’s also a popular spot for scuba diving, thanks to its extensive cave system and incredible visibility. Cost: $14.02 per adult; $3.73 per child ages 6-12

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GO ESCAPE WINTER 2018  

USA Today's winter travel magazine

GO ESCAPE WINTER 2018  

USA Today's winter travel magazine