A few of Florida’s best state parks are off the beaten path like Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon Florida. A former tourist attraction with a zoo and glass bottom boats has now transformed into a natural beauty that has been a favorite swimming and camping spot for the locals for many years.
You can also kayak, canoe, snorkel, and tubing (no motor boats allowed). There are paths for hiking or walking through the gardens and to see remnants of the parks former attractions. The 2.5 mile walk/hike trail winds you through the beautiful gardens, man-made waterfalls, and along the crystal clear river. Take your time and enjoy the wildlife and native flowers. If you’re a bird nerd like me, you will see a nice variety such as hummingbirds, woodpeckers, butterflies and more.
There is a small concession area, but most people bring their own food and drink for a picnic and then go for a swim. There are plenty of areas for picnicking and to relax in the warm Florida sun. There is also a small gift shop, nothing too touristy. Lots of room for the kids to run and play.
I usually go early before it gets busy just to spend extra time on the trail. The park can be seen in about 2-3 hours, but most people like to stay awhile or all day and take it all in. It’s a nice distraction if you just came from all the big amusement parks. A little off the beaten path but that is what makes these Florida gems special. If you want to camp or bring your RV, they have a great set up for you as well.
TIPS: You can bring your dog as long as they are on a leash. **Fee is very nominal for park.
For more info: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Rainbow-Springs