Florida's Forgotten Theme Park: Rainbow Springs

Rainbow Springs is a beautiful spring near the West coast of Florida on the Rainbow River. At Rainbow Springs you can swim in the water all day or rent kayaks and canoes to explore outside of the spring.

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In the 1930’s Rainbow Springs was opened as a private theme park with glass bottom boat rides, gondolas, a zoo, and even man made waterfalls throughout the park. In 1974, due to highway developments making theme parks like Disney more accessible, Rainbow Springs was closed as a private theme park but reopened in the 90’s as a state park and today you can still see the waterfalls and swim in the spring.

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Things to know before you go:

  • Tubes, floaties, rafts, and any inflatable thing of the like are prohibited. The only thing allowed inside are pool noodles, which you can also buy at the gift shop for $2.

  • Park admission is $2 per person

  • The only thing to do is swim in a designated swimming area unless you want to rent a canoe or kayak.

  • Canoe rentals when we visited were $30 for two hours (1-3 people) and Kayak rentals were $30 for two hours (1-2 people) and $15 for each additional hour.

  • Canoeing back will take you longer than the first part of the trip because it will be up river, Take this into consideration when timing when to turn around to get back within your rental time.

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Things to bring:

  • Mask and snorkel isn’t really necessary in the swimming area but is cool to have if you kayak down the river and want to get out and swim.

  • Pack lunches and water or some kind of drink, it gets hot and swimming makes you hungry!

  • Towels

  • Blankets, something to lay on

  • ENO Hammock or something similar if you have one, there are some trees there you can hang it from.

  • Pool noodle to float, the spring is too deep to stand.

  • Waterproof phone case

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Rainbow Springs was absolutely stunning and one of the places that when we arrived, Tyler and I both said, “This was worth the drive, I’m really glad we came here.”  The plants will make you feel like you are in Jurassic Park, The waterfalls (even though they are man made) will make you feel like you’re definitely not in Florida anymore, and gliding over the clear water in a canoe will take your breath away as you look deep into to springs, into another world.

We highly recommend a trip to Rainbow Springs any time you visit Florida, and I hope this guide helps you when you do!

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