Springs offer fun, educational and scenic getaway
Alexander Springs Recreation Area of Altoona, Fla., is located at:
49525 County Road 445.
To make reservations or for more information about Alexander Springs Recreation Area, call
(877) 444-6777 or (352) 669-3522 or log on to www.reserveusa.com.
Native Floridians know the best swimming pools in the state are not in someone's backyard but are courtesy of Mother Nature.
With a near constant year-round temperature of about 72 degrees, the tepid waters of Alexander Springs is the perfect watering hole on those sweltering Florida summers days.
"A lot of families come to the springs to cool off during the summer," said Linda Dick, co-manager of the recreation area.
While the crystal-clear waters attract splish-splashing youngsters, Alexander Springs features a variety of activities that can make the perfect vacationing getaway for the entire family. The recreation area offers a 67-unit campground that can accommodate tents and recreational vehicles up to 35 feet. The campground does not offer electrical, water or sewer hookups, but hot showers and a dump station is provided.
Other than the campground, the Alexander Springs Recreation Area features hiking trails, canoe rentals, concession stand, an interpretive trail and a large picnic area.
"Our main attraction is probably scuba diving," Dick said. "We get quite a few scuba divers from Europe."
Scuba diving or snorkeling allows visitors to view the abundance of fish and underwater vegetation in the springs. Scuba diving is only permitted in the large spring boil and valid proof of certification is required.
For hikers, Alexander Springs offers several excellent resources. The Timucuan Trail, named after the Timucuan Indian tribe, is a 1.1-mile interpretive loop trail that highlights vegetation used by early Native Americans and is an outstanding location for wildlife viewing. Other nearby trails includes the Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs 66 miles through the Ocala National Forest. The 22-mile Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail is also nearby.
With all these amenities, guests should be aware that finding an open campsite at Alexander Springs isn't always the easiest. Big groups or family reunions dominate the park and large events in Central Florida, such as the Daytona 500 and Mount Dora Arts Festival, bring guests to the campground.
"Availability varies depending on what is going on in the community," Dick said. "We get campers from everywhere, including Germany, Russia and London."