Day trips from the River Inn to nearby Gulf Coast State Parks provide opportunities to explore some of Florida’s many natural wonders and see native wildlife in their own environment. The Inn is located near more than 100,000 acres of Preservation 2000 lands acquired under the Save Our Rivers program. This includes miles of undeveloped Gulf Coast frontage. The gulf and fresh water streams that flow through the area provide habitat for more than 100 bird species. We will be adding a few of our favorite spots as we travel to them.
Fanning Springs State Park is located just 38 Minutes from the Inn. The spring now produces around 65 million gallons of water daily, making it a second magnitude spring. Historically, Fanning Spring was a first-magnitude springs as recently as the 1990s. The springs not only offer the perfect 72 degrees water to cool down on hot Florida days, it also offers an abundance of underwater wildlife to view such as musk turtles, bass, mullet, freshwater flounder, bowfin and manatees during the colder days, just to name a few.
Visitors can enjoy grilling and picnicking under the majestic live oaks, kids can swing and run around at the playground and friends and family can have a friendly game of volleyball on the white sand volleyball court. They have a boardwalk that allows you to step back in time to old Florida as you stroll through a breathtaking cypress swamp with cypress knees standing 6 feet tall. This boardwalk ends with an overlook allowing you to see the Suwannee River and all it has to offer, including massive sturgeons jumping during the summer months.
White-tailed deer, gray squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, pileated woodpeckers and barred owls are some of the animals that may be seen around the park. An overlook at the park will allow you to see the spring in its entirety and has a spectacular view of the boil.
Located just 45 minutes from the Inn is Lafayette Blue Springs state park. Lafayette Blue Spring is a first magnitude spring. Walk across the natural limestone bridge that crosses over the spring run or picnic under the oaks trees with their swaying Spanish moss. Fish or canoe on the serene Suwannee River or hiking and wild life viewing is some of the favorite pastimes of visitors. The picnic area has tables, grills and 2 pavilions for visitor’s use.
Madison Blue Springs State park is located about an hour and 15 minutess from the Inn and is one of the most breath-taking springs in Florida. This crystal clear, first magnitude spring is a popular spot for swimming and cave diving.
About 82 feet wide, 25 feet deep, and a 150-foot spring-run merging with the river, the spring bubbles up into a limestone basin along the west bank of the Withlacoochee River. Scenic woodlands of mixed hardwoods and pines create a picturesque setting for picnicking, paddling and wildlife viewing.
Voted the #1 swimming hole in the country by USA Today, Madison Blue Spring is a family favorite destination and a fantastic place to spend the day.
Located just over an hour away from Steinhatchee is one of Florida’s best places to cool off and enjoy the great outdoors. Traveling the pristine waters of the Ichetucknee River is the perfect outing, whether you’re looking for a vigorous adventure or a relaxing day on the water.
Well-known for its warm weather tubing, the 2,669-acre Ichetucknee Springs State Park is also a wildlife haven, where beaver, otter, gar, softshell turtle, wild turkey, wood duck and limpkin all find a home. The main draw is the park’s eight major crystalline springs that join together to create the six-mile Ichetucknee River.
Whether you’re looking for a place to tube, kayak, hike, picnic, or just swim in the headspring, Ichetucknee has you covered for a great outdoor adventure.
Manatee Springs State Park is located under an hour south of the Inn in Cheifland Florida. People have enjoyed the cool waters of manatee springs for more than 10,000 years, from early Paleo Indians to modern park visitors. This magnitude spring – one of Florida’s first - releases an astounding 100 million gallons of water daily. This makes it a popular cooling-off spot and a great place to stroll on the park boardwalk and gaze into the depths.
True to its namesake, manatees can be seen in the cooler months and birds, mammals and fish are spotted year-round.
The park also offers 8.5 miles of nature trails and a safe connection to the 32-mile Nature Coast State Trail, so don’t forget to bring your bicycles!
Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park is located just over an hour from the Inn in High Springs Florida and has one of the most beautiful springs in Florida.
The park contains a collection of natural springs, including a large second magnitude spring that produces an average of 44 million gallons of water per day. This spring, known as Gilchrist Blue, has outstanding water clarity and discharges water through a shallow spring run about one-quarter mile to the Santa Fe River. The other named springs on-site are Little Blue Spring, Naked Spring, Kiefer Spring and Johnson Spring, which provide scenic vistas and photographic opportunities.
The most significant ecological habitats include the spring run stream and floodplain communities. The main spring run is renowned for its support of a diversity of wildlife species including turtles, fish and invertebrates. Redbreast and spotted sunfish, largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish in can be observed in waters with unparalleled visibility.
Paddling, snorkeling and swimming are all popular at the park. Pavilions are available, and a concession stand provides food and beverage service, and paddling equipment rentals. Other popular activities include camping, hiking, nature study and picnicking.
Little River Springs is a county park in Suwannee County and is just under an hour away from the Inn.
The spring run is approximately 150 feet long with a cave system that is more than 1,200 feet long. The 125 acres allow for nature walks and a wide variety of wildlife including deer, squirrel and numerous birds. The Suwannee River Water Management District recently renovated this park with concrete walkways and steps leading down to the spring from an established river level. The park offers Three (3) picnic areas with grills, Paved parking area, Two overlooks, Large spring and spring run to river, Two walking trails, Portable restrooms, Beach areas, Swimming areas, and Accessible sidewalks.