Tampa Bay is home to some of the most beautiful beaches. We also have amazing little islands for boating and fishing, to enjoy under the Florida sun, but have you ever wanted to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, off of the beach? I’m going to share with you some beautiful hidden gems just outside of Tampa Bay that will give you a breathe of fresh air, in the great outdoors and some new adventure ideas to enjoy with your family!
Did you know that just outside of Tampa, within a couple of hours, we have a handful of fresh water rivers and natural springs? I’m talking, beautiful, cool, crystal clear water, where you’ll encounter wild manatees swimming among you and otters playing in the coves next you. You’ll see turtles resting on logs, schools of fish and a plethora of birds flying near by! Where is this magical place you ask? About 100 miles North of Tampa, you’ll find Dunnellon, Florida. A cute little historic town, home to Rainbow Springs. Rainbow Springs, is the 4th largest natural spring in Florida and connects to the Rainbow River and the Withlacoochee River. It’s here, that you can rent a tube, a canoe a kayak or even a paddle board and float down the river and see the wildlife in these waters for yourself!
At Rainbow Springs State Park and KP Hole Park you can leisurely float down the water in a tube and take in the beauty of mother nature. There’s even a water taxi available to shuttle divers to the best diving spots under water! Our family’s favorite way to visit the area, is finding a place to call home for a couple of days on the river. If you’re lucky, you can find a perfect little waterfront cabin for the weekend and fish or float right off of your very own dock!
Another beautiful spot to visit is, Crystal River. It’s a hidden gem on the Nature Coast of Florida, and considered home to the West Indian Manatee during their Winter Migration. At Three Sisters Springs, you can visit them in their protected sanctuaries! Special hours do apply, so call ahead before you plan your visit!
In addition to the manatees, you can take the family to Homosassa Riverside Resort and check out Monkey Island with the kids! Crystal River and the surrounding areas are flooded with snorkelers and divers during special months in the Summer for scalloping! Another fun activity for the entire family! Imagine Easter egg hunts under water!! Check with the local scalloping charters or Visit Citrus for more information.
We’ve been so blessed during our visits to enjoy these spots with our family. The weather has been great and the water, a million shades of blue! As a Mom of boys, I’m getting used to the idea that fishing can actually be fun, BUT this Mommy won’t be hooking any worms on the fishing pole! It’s so much fun to watch my boys squeal with delight and smile with pride from catching a real fish!