Looking for some great non-pool place to swim this summer? These are our four favorite budget friendly swimming areas in central Florida.
This is one of our favorite swimming areas in the central Florida. Sebastian Inlet State Park is located on the east coast, about an hour from Orlando. It is a favorite among fisherman, surfers, tourists, locals, and beachgoers. It has much to offer. There is an $8 entry fee per car – $4 if you are a single car rider- but if you plan on being there for the day, it is worth it. The inlet has two entrances. The main entrance will take you to the tidal pool, fishing area, or beach for surfing. The secondary entrance takes you to the campground and boat ramp. You can launch a kayak or boat there ($4 fee for the boat ramp).
At the main entrance, the beach section has excellent surf during the winter and spring seasons – just park in the paved parking lot and walk past the restaurant to the beach access. On the other side of the main entrance, in the gravel parking lot, is the tidal pool area – great for kids as it’s usually fairly shallow when the tide is out. The tidal pool is known to often have manatees and dolphins swimming in it!
View our 360 video tour of the tidal pool area. The beach by the tidal pool has plenty of room to set up a tent or picnic on the beach. On the far side of the beach is a string of rocks to stand on and fish. These rocks separate the tidal pool from the rest of the inlet. During the weekends, the inlet is PACKED so get there early or visit during the week. They are open 24 hours.
2. Wekiwa Springs – $6 per car
Our second choice is to swim at Wekiwa Springs State Park. This pretty springs is a popular place for swimming, paddling, and hiking. The spring water is always a cool 72 degrees, and a nice way to cool off in the summer months. The water is clear enough to snorkel in, too! There are a couple small cave areas you can dive down and look at.
You can also camp at their campground or take a paddle around the waterways. Be aware that the park does fill up on the weekends and in the summer months, so be prepared to arrive early! View a more detailed recount of camping at Wekiwa in our post here.
3. Kelly Springs Park – $3-5 a car
Another great spot is Kelly Park! This spot is a summer destination in Orlando that you will not want to miss out on! It is $3 a car for 1-2 people and $5 for 4. The park has a swimming area and a short tube run – about 15 min long- that you can peacefully float down to cool off on a hot day. At Kelly Park you are welcome to bring your own float or rent one from one of the outfitters outside the park entrance. On the weekends, they also have a concession stand. Check out our video of the tube run below:
The park is often filled to capacity, and people wait outside SUPER early in the morning on summer weekends (think 5am!). When we have visited Kelly Park, we have chosen to be a little cold and have gone in the off season. When we visited in October of last year (2021) there were hardly any other people there. That is the way we like to do things! Whether you like a crowd or prefer to go on the off-season, you definitely want to make a stop at Kelly park while you’re in Orlando.
4) Blue Springs State Park – $6 Entry Fee
If you are looking for a place to swim and also see manatees, Blue springs is your spot! Their entrance fee is $6 per car entry free ($4 if you are a single car rider). The springs features swimming, snorkeling, and tubing on a small slow moving current. The tubing is short, it lasts about 5-10 minutes. It’s a short walk to get to the top of the tube run. There is a playground for the kids and a nice boardwalk where you can look for manatees.
5. Rainbow Springs – $2 per person
Last but not least, Rainbow Springs! This state park and springs is located in Dunnellon. This is about an hour west from Orlando. It’s one of our favorite spots because it has a springs area where you can swim and kayak. It also has a tube run if you are looking to splurge and spend a bit.
Rainbow Springs is great place to experience swimming in the cool waters of Florida Springs. The head springs at the park is a walk-up area that often fills to capacity on the weekends. It’s $2 per person up at the gate. They have limited items they allow you to bring in the park (such as no floats). Walk past the gate, and you will see the roped off swimming area at the head springs. It is about the size of a large lap pool. You can rent a kayak here at the head springs as well or walk a trail. At a separate entrance, they also have a 2 hour lazy river tube run (with a $20 fee per person). We have done the lazy river before and it was great!
Hope you will venture out to enjoy one of these great budget friendly swimming areas in Central Florida this summer!