Florida is rimmed by 1,350 miles of coastline and dotted with lakes, natural springs and swimming pools. Adventure and fun are on the swimming menu in the Sunshine State and here are five great places to take a dip.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Often appearing on "best beaches in America lists," this park on Key Biscayne is just minutes from downtown Miami and features a stunning stretch of sandy Atlantic Ocean beach. To enhance your experience, rent beach chairs, umbrellas or bicycles. After a great day of swimming and sunbathing, you can tour the historic lighthouse, which was originally built in 1825. Guided tours are offered twice daily, Thursday through Monday. Call (305) 361-5811 or check out www.floridastateparks.org/capeflorida
for more information.
Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park
A popular place for Orlando residents to cool down in the spring and summer months, Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park is a 248-acre park with crystal clear springs. Located in Apopka about 30 minutes north of downtown Orlando, Rock Springs is a go-to destination for tubing, and swimmers relish the series of lagoons and pools at the center of the park. Amenities include full-service concessions, hiking and nature trails, and picnic facilities. For more information, call (407) 889-4179 or visit www.theotherorlando.com/contents/chapters/16/kellypark.html
Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex
Situated in the International Swimming Hall of Fame complex in Fort Lauderdale at 501 Seabreeze Blvd., this is one of the state’s most comprehensive swimming venues. It features 50-meter lap-swimming lanes, springboards for diving, swimming lessons for all ages, water aerobics classes and facilities for pool parties. The International Swimming Hall of Fame has more than 40 exhibits and displays honoring the world’s greatest performers in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. For hours and other details, call (954) 828-4580 or go to www.ci.ftlaud.fl.us./flac
Grayton Beach State Park
One of the cleanest and most scenic beaches in Florida, Grayton Beach is situated between Destin and Panama City in the panhandle. It's a wonderland of massive sand dunes peppered with sea oats, sugar white beaches and Gulf of Mexico emerald green waters. Set in a 2,000-acre park, the beach is popular with water enthusiasts who enjoy swimming and snorkeling, and hikers and bikers drawn to a nature trail that weaves through a coastal forest. Call (850) 267-8300 or visit www.floridastateparks.org/graytonbeach
to plan your trip.
De Leon Springs
A popular park with locals and families, especially on the weekend, De Leon Springs is about 30 miles west of Daytona Beach and has an exceptional swimming area with nearby shaded picnic facilities. The head of the spring is a large wading pool framed by a low, concrete wall. And don't miss breakfast at the on-site Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where you can make your own pancakes at the table and follow up with a day of swimming in the refreshing springs. Plan your visit by calling (386) 985-4212 or checking out www.floridastateparks.org/deleonsprings/default.cfm
If you love to swim, you can rest assured that Florida is the ultimate place to get wet.