If you are looking for a great way to cool off this summer, you may want to consider scheduling a tubing trip at one of Florida’s parks. Most of the ones that I am familiar with also offer additional services that could be used to round out a day or a weekend. With that said, here are two destinations that I’d recommend considering:
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Columbia County’s Ichetucknee Springs State Park is an exceptional place to take the family tubing, just as long as you don’t mind a lot of company. The place is very popular, so I’d recommend arriving as early as possible (8 a.m.). Otherwise, you’re apt to get stuck waiting in line.
You may opt to bring your own gear or rent some from the Ichetucknee Tube Center. It is situated close to the park’s south and north entrances. The south entrance offers access to one half of the river, shuttle service and Dampier’s Landing. Depending on the water level, you may expect to spend at least an hour on the water. The north entrance, on the other hand, offers access to the entire length of the river as well as shuttle service. If you decide to go that route, I’d recommend allowing three to four hours of float time.
Personally, unless you have access to a large vehicle, I’d suggest renting the tubes. Just make sure that you secure them before the crowds arrive. Sometimes you can even catch a sweet discount by following the company’s online postings. The rentals are generally a modest $3 to $20 each. The higher priced tubes are designed to accommodate couples and families. The lower prices ones are more suited for individuals.
I should also mention that there is typically a $6 park entrance fee charged per vehicle and a $5 per person river use fee to contend with as well. Although the park is open year-round, the best tubing tends to take place weekdays after Memorial Day. The crowds are often lighter at those times.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Marion County’s Rainbow Springs State Park is another family-friendly, tubing destination to consider. Like the Ichetucknee Springs State Park location, the area can get quite congested during the summer months. Therefore, you’ll want to arrive at the onsite tube rental facility no later than 8 a.m. I’d also suggest shooting for a weekday arrival and factoring in at least two hours of tubing time into your schedule.
Admission fees tend to start at $2 per person and do not include shuttle service or tube rentals. However, there is an onsite rental facility that features transportation inclusive prices. Those prices usually start at around $11 per person.
When you finish tubing, consider grabbing a handful of grub at one of the area’s awesome eateries. Places to consider putting onto your culinary radar are Stumpknockers and the Blue Gator. Try the gator bites at either location. The gator brat with kraut is typically a safe bet too.
Source: Personal Experience
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