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In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon set out on the first known European expedition to Florida. Many believe he was searching for sacred restorative waters, otherwise known as the “Fountain of Youth.” These waters were thought to exist in Florida. Although the Fountain of Youth was never found, Ponce de Leon Springs were named after the great explorer and will leave you feeling restored (and 5 years younger). Regain your youth by taking a dip in the crystal clear, cool, blue water of Ponce de Leon Springs.
Ponce de Leon Springs has been a popular swimming hole since the 1920s and has only become more popular. The spring remains a cool 68-degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The cool refreshing water is the perfect antidote to the incredibly hot and humid days during Florida’s balmy summer. The main spring is a convergence of two underwater flows that produce 14 million gallons of water a day!
If you need to get your sweat on before cooling off in the spring, take a walk along two self-guided nature trails. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch under one of the many pavilions. Or, catch some lunch by trying your luck fishing away from the swimming area. There are plenty of things to do at Ponce de Leon Springs.
Getting To Ponce de Leon Springs
Ponce de Leon Springs is located in Ponce de Leon Springs State Park in Holmes County, Florida. It is located in the town of Ponce de Leon, a half-mile south of U.S. 90 on C.R 181A. The spring is conveniently on the Emerald Coast, just 1 hour from Destin, FL, and the famous 30-A.
Ponce De Leon Springs is not the only spring in the area. It is located just 5 miles from Morrison Springs and Vortex Springs. Take a day away from the beach, and enjoy a refreshing dip in Ponce De Leon Springs.
The park closes when it reaches capacity (41 parking spaces) so arrive early or call ahead, especially on the weekends.
2860 Ponce De Leon Springs Rd, Ponce De Leon, FL 32455
8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year.
$4 per vehicle
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park has numerous amenities to include: picnic pavilions, benches, restroom facilities, a shower station, a water fountain, a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk, and a boat ramp downstream.
The water temperature at Ponce de Leon Springs stays 68°F year-round. It is quite chilly but refreshing!
Ponce de Leon Springs offers some breathtakingly beautiful water that will make you feel like you are in the Caribbean. It is however, always good to check the health alerts before you go or call the spring before leaving. It would be a shame to drive there and not get to experience the spring!
Best Things to Do at Ponce de Leon Springs
Swim in the Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth, or the main swimming area, is a natural plunge pool surrounded by limestone walls, cypress trees, and breathtaking water. It invites you to take a relaxing dip on a sweltering Florida day. The chilly water will not restore your youth, but it sure is invigorating.
There are no lifeguards, but the spring swimming area is mostly 3-4 feet deep. If you need more adventure, bring your snorkeling gear and swim towards the cypress tree where you can dive 25 feet down to the spring’s opening. Or, show off your cannon-ball skills by jumping off the stone diving board!
The swimming hole at Ponce de Leon Springs is much more family-friendly but the snorkeling opportunities are limited. However, if you want to visit a beautiful spring with more adventurous snorkeling opportunities, check out Morrison Springs!
Go for a Hike
Ponce de Leon Springs has two short nature trails that weave through the park and allow you to slip away from the crowd. The Sandy Creek and Spring Run trails will take you through lush hardwood forest following the spring run and the sweet tea-colored Sandy Creek. Enjoy a relaxing stroll while listening to the native birds and observing wildlife. At one point, you will see where the spring runs into Sandy Creek forming a sharp division of beautiful clear spring water colliding with the murky creek.
Have a Picnic
Ponce de Leon Springs offers plenty of picnic opportunities. There are four picnic shelters with grills available for reservation. Also, an abundance of picnic tables are available on the grounds. Don’t forget your picnic bag, and enjoy a delicious meal after working up an appetite from splashing in the spring and hiking the trails.
Watch the Birds
Ponce de Leon Springs is a great place to view migrating wildlife. Specifically, wintering birds. Visit on a weekday or early morning if you plan on birding. That way you do not have to deal with swimmers. Birds like the brown creeper and golden-crowned kinglet have been seen at this site. Listen carefully when hiking the trails as you might see one! The park is part of the Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Catch a Fish
Be sure to bring your pole and try your luck fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and panfish. You are allowed to fish at Ponce de Leon Springs, but make sure you are not fishing in the swimming area. Try your luck on Sandy Creek, which is a well-known anglers hot spot!
Ponce de Leon Springs, although not literally the Fountain of Youth, is a refreshing day away from the beach that will certainly leave you invigorated and feeling younger than when you arrived. The park is abundant with activities. So, if you want a day away from the beach and need an escape, then Ponce de Leon Springs is the place for you!
If you’re interested in more cool water springs in Florida, check out our post on Morrison Springs: A Free Florida Oasis.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are dogs allowed at Ponce de Leon Springs? Dogs are allowed on the trails if kept on a leash. Dogs are NOT are allowed in the swimming area.
Are there alligators at Ponce de Leon Springs? There are not alligators in the main swimming area of Ponce de Leon Springs because it is a contained area. However, if you wander outside of the main swimming area, like most bodies of freshwater in Florida, it is possible that you could come across an alligator. We have never seen any alligators at Ponce de Leon Springs.
Can you camp at Ponce de Leon Springs? The park is open from 8 in the morning to sunset each day. You cannot camp at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park but you can camp at nearby Vortex Springs. Also, check out Twin Lakes Camp Resort which is less than 30 minutes away.
Are there lifeguards at Ponce de Leon Springs? There are no lifeguards at Ponce de Leon Springs so swim safely at your risk. Luckily, the swimming area, with the exception of the spring opening, is fairly shallow (think 3-4 feet deep).
Are there manatees at Ponce de Leon Springs? People often get De Leon Springs State Park and Ponce de Leon Springs State Park mixed up. Which is easy to do. There are no manatees at Ponce de Leon Springs. That would be amazing if there was!
If you enjoyed this post or are planning to spend some time in Florida, I highly suggest you check out our other Florida posts: Morrison Springs: A Free Florida Oasis, Top 10 Things to do in Jupiter, Florida, Alys Beach| 30A South Walton, Florida, and Blue Angels: The Greatest Air Show in Pensacola Beach