Florida is blessed with several first-magnitude springs, but none can compare with the one at Madison Blue Spring State Park.
Situated just over an hour’s drive from Tallahassee, it was awarded the title of America’s best swimming hole by USA Today. Not surprisingly, it is now a favored destination for families to spend some quality time together.
Covering an area of about 82 feet wide and 25 feet deep, the spring is a very impressive site – discharging somewhere in the region of 2,800 liters of water per second.
As well as swimming, the park contains one of the largest cave systems in Florida. Which many visitors choose to explore by scuba diving.
Other activities like boating, fishing, picnicking and birding are also popular too.
While there is no overnight accommodations at this Florida state park, there are several campgrounds located nearby.
The park gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy its spectacular scenery in several ways.
Showcased below is a selection of some of the most notable activities you can partake in during your time there.
Swimming and tubing at Madison Blue Spring State Park
Throughout the year, park visitors can enjoy swimming, tubing, snorkeling and floating in the spring’s sparkling waters.
With the average water temperatures being a very pleasant 72 degrees, these activities can take place at any time from 8 am to sunset.
Please be mindful that the swimming areas have sections which can reach a depth of up to 25 feet. So if you are an inexperienced swimmer be sure to stick to the shallower sections which are only about 5 feet deep.
Wherever you swim you will be doing so at your own risk, as this section is not lifeguarded. However, you should see turtles, fish and various other aquatic creatures.
Please also note that the rocks and limestone walls that flank the spring are protected. So it is strictly forbidden to climb, walk, jump, dive or even place items on them.
Scuba Diving at Madison Blue Spring State Park
Boasting one of Florida’s largest cave systems, the park attracts many scuba divers from all over the world.
If you want to visit it, please be aware that only certified cavern and cave diving is allowed. Free diving and open water diving are strictly prohibited.
While diving there are a number of rules and regulations you must abide by. For instance, all dives must be completed an hour before sunset. You are also required to dive with another person as solo diving is not allowed.
The use of scooters/DPVs is also not permitted, while artifacts, animals and plants should not be moved or disturbed in any way.
Boating at Madison Blue Spring State Park
Lined with comely pine and mixed hardwoods the quaint Withlacoochee River is a lovely place for a paddle.
There are no kayak or canoe rentals available at the park, so you will have to bring your own. However, if you did, you will no doubt spend many hours on the water.
Please note, watercraft are not permitted in or near the spring. Unfortunately you won’t be able to get vehicle access within the park to the river either.
Fishing at Madison Blue Spring State Park
For those who enjoy fishing, the river provides you with plenty of places to cast a line.
You can do this anywhere on the banks of the river, starting from a distance of 400 feet beyond the spring. (Fishing is not allowed in the swimming areas).
Depending on where you fish you might need a license. You will also have to bring your own rod and reels as there are none available for hire within the park.
Some of the species you can expect to catch include warmouth, spotted sunfish, gulf sturgeon, coastal shiner, striped mullet, bluegill, Suwannee bass, yellow bullhead and both brown and white catfish.
Picnicking at Madison Blue Spring State Park
Picnicking is a favored activity at the park with many families choosing to enjoy an al fresco meal during their time there.
You will find several picnic tables dotted all over the park, most of which are located near grills and are shaded by state pine and oak trees near the spring. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
As well as the tables, picnic pavilions are also available for bigger groups. Centrally situated, they offer convenient access to the spring, as well as the river and an adjacent volleyball court. All pavilions offer oversized, double-sided grills to cook on.
While at the picnic areas, and throughout the park as a whole, the consumption of alcohol is not permitted.
Pets at Madison Blue Spring State Park
Pets are welcome to come to the park with you, but they can only remain in the picnic areas. They are not allowed to venture into the swimming area, river, spring area or any of the buildings.
The exception to this is service animals who under Florida law can accompany you anywhere.
While in the picnic areas pets must be well behaved at all times.
They also must be restrained on a hand-held leash of no more than six feet in length and should not be left unattended for more than half an hour.
Camping at Madison Blue Spring State Park
There are no camping facilities available at the park.
But for those who require overnight accommodation there are several campgrounds within easy driving distance of it.
Between them they have a good range of options that range from RV and trailer sites with full hookups to primitive tent sites for seasoned, self-sufficient campers.
Madison Blue Spring State Park
Lee, FL 32059
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Madison Blue Spring State Park: