Have you ever wondered how many caves are really in the state of Florida? Some other states, like Pennsylvania for instance, have a lot of natural caves that make for some cool exploration days. But Florida isn’t quite as lucky since it’s a much flatter area. That makes the caves that the state does have an even more unique experience to check out when you are looking for something cool to do! There are also quite a few water caves in the state, but to visit all of those, one must have a diving certification. Even so, the areas are all natural and full of hiking trails and beautiful scenery.
Florida Caverns State Park (Marianna, Florida)
It just so happens that some of the caves that reside in Florida are in state parks. With tours every day of the year, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, this is an opportunity to get out and see the natural area when you need something different to do. Caves are naturally cool because they are in the earth, which makes caves a perfect activity to do on a hot Florida day. The Florida Caverns have several underground rooms to explore, with stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and draperies to enjoy and photograph for some beautiful reminders of the visit. Because there are tours, you can’t go off and explore on your own, but it’s still a cool experience to see the natural wonders that can be underground.
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park (Live Oak, Florida)
Another natural cave set among the state park system, Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park is super cool because the caves are underwater. There are two major springs, a spring run, and six sinkholes to explore within the grounds. As home to one of the longest underwater cave systems in the continental US, it’s open only to those who have proof of their scuba certification for safety purposes but everyone is encouraged to visit the rest of the park. Even if you don’t have your scuba license, it’s neat to know that under the dirt trails you’re walking on are twisting tunnels of water caves.
Withlacoochee State Forest Park (Inverness, Florida)
There are a couple caves within Withlacoochee State Forest, the two biggest caves are Dames Cave and Peace Cave, although smaller caves are also here. They are located in the Citrus Tract portion of the forest. The first cave that visitors come across, Dames Cave, is also known as Vandal Cave as there are years of graffiti on the walls of the cave system. After Vandal Cave are other caves that can be a bit trickier to get to. For some, you just have to duck your head to make your way through, but others are much smaller and have to be crawled through. These caves don’t see a lot of traffic because of this. All of the caves here are among the oldest in Florida, so they are more often visited by people of the area, but there is the occasional traveler outside the area who will scope out the caves. Withlacoochee State Forest does not offer tours, this is a strictly visit at your own risk trip, so be sure to travel with friends so you’re not alone. And bring some flashlights because the caves can be pretty dark.
Madison Blue Spring State Park (Lee, Florida)
A natural spring that is also home to a water cave, Madison Blue Spring State Park is a fantastic place to visit if you want to swim, paddle, and view wildlife in its natural habitat. The caves here are under water, so a scuba diving certification is a must if you want to explore the deep underwater caves. The awesome part of visiting this state park though, is that you can still swim in the springs even if you don’t have your scuba certification. Kids and adults alike swim and snorkel in the beautiful waters, and they can see fish and other water animals through their goggles. The waters are such a crystal clear blue and as it’s settled in among the trees, it’s a perfect way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Scott Springs Park (Ocala, Florida)
Scott Springs Park is not a large park, it’s actually pretty small, with a playground for kids and a cute wooden boardwalk that allows visitors to check out the springs a little closer. A lot of people even come here for lunch between their work shifts to enjoy the natural scenery. But there’s also a small cave here, called a grotto. A grotto is basically a very small, picturesque cave that can’t actually be explored, but you can see the little cave opening when exploring the park as a whole. A 22-acre park, Scott Springs could be just the ticket to a relaxing afternoon among the natural world.