4 Best Lakes in Florida for Swimming

Florida is a state known for its natural wonders. From the Everglades to its many sprawling beaches, there’s so much to see and do. In addition to those stunning sights, there are also plenty of local lakes that are well worth venturing out to see.

Before we get into a few of the best lakes for swimming that Florida has to offer, let’s cover what it is about these bodies of water that makes them so special.

The Advantages of Swimming in a Lake

Swimming — and more specifically, open-water swimming — has a host of fantastic benefits. Whether you want to go lake swimming or go for a dip in the ocean, heading out into natural bodies of water can be incredibly restorative for the body and soul.

Open water swimming is simply a form of swimming that takes place in outdoor, natural bodies of water. A lake, river, ocean, reservoir, and more could all count toward open-water swimming. A pool, however, would not qualify, even if it’s outdoors. Open-water swimming gives you the advantage of experiencing nature while getting a workout.

The views while open water swimming can be spectacular. They also often feature a beach, dock, or boardwalk that likely features many other activities. This can be an added source of entertainment for you and friends or for family, including grandchildren.

Swimming in a lake has a few main differences from swimming in the ocean. In a lake, the waters will probably be calmer. Lakes are also most often freshwater, whereas the ocean is always filled with salt water. 

That being said, some lakes feature salt water, so be sure to do your research ahead of time if that’s information you need to know. 

Is Lake Swimming Safe for People of All Ages?

Swimming in a lake can be safe for people above a certain age who know how to swim, just like swimming in a pool can be safe. However, it is absolutely crucial that certain precautions are taken. 

For one thing, there should always be an active lifeguard on duty. Hopefully, they won’t be necessary, but it’s best to have a trained professional available just in case.

Next, make sure not to wade into overly deep water, especially if you aren’t confident in your or someone else’s swimming abilities. Wearing a life vest can be an excellent and worthwhile safety precaution. Make sure that everyone getting in the water is a strong swimmer and others are looking out for them if they need assistance.

Finally, do your research to find lakes with the calmest waters. These will provide the most pleasant circumstances for swimming, especially if you were hoping for a relaxing day on the water. 

Also, be sure to look out for the temperature of the lake. Spending too much time in cold water can pose certain threats. Generally, if the water is under 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it can cause issues after prolonged exposure. If the water is colder than that, it can cause issues like shock and even hypothermia.

Since you are outdoors and exposed to the sun, be sure to apply and reapply adequate sunscreen frequently. This will help to prevent sun damage. You can also choose swimwear that offers more protection, such as rashguards from Maxine Swim, which feature 50 SPF fabric.

If you’re ready to dive in, here are some of our favorite swimming lakes in the Sunshine State.

1. Rainbow Springs

Rainbow springs, nestled within the appropriately-named Rainbow Springs State Park, is located near Dunnellon, Florida. This spring is unique due to its beautiful, crystal-clear waters that give way to a wide array of colors under the surface. 

Here, you can enjoy your day out on the water in an abundance of different ways. Swimming is very common at Rainbow Springs, as are pastimes like kayaking, canoeing, and lounging by the shore.

Since this is Florida we’re talking about, temperatures remain fairly warm year-round, with humidity spiking in the summer months. Since it’s hotter in the summer, that might strike you as the perfect time for a dip in this beautiful spring. However, you can venture out into this particular natural body of water at any point during the year.

The water at Rainbow Springs averages about 72 degrees, and it stays that way for the entirety of the year. This means that the springs provide a delightfully comfortable swimming temperature that is invigorating without feeling chilly.

There are also plenty of other sights to see and activities to enjoy throughout the state park. Complete with waterfalls and hiking trails, there’s so much to love about Rainbow Springs State Park.

2. Fanning Springs

Fanning Springs is another body of water that stays at a cozy 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year. There is no shortage of wildlife to view, be it underwater or around the perimeter of the springs. Turtles and fish are very common to see here, but there’s an underwater animal that is even rarer that sometimes calls Fanning Springs its home: manatees.

When the weather gets colder, certain animals flock to these springs as a means of staying warm. Manatees are one of these animals. As a result, it isn’t uncommon to see manatees swimming around Fanning Springs in the wintertime. 

This park is open all year, from 8 in the morning until the sun goes down. You can also choose to picnic here for a scenic lunch or even camp out under the stars overnight.

3. Madison Blue Spring State Park

If you are searching for a Florida day trip that’s sure to keep family and friends of all ages engaged, look no further than Madison Blue Spring State Park. This state park features one of the most serene and stunning swimming holes in the entirety of the United States. In fact, it is frequently ranked as one of the best swimming holes in the country by various lists and publications. 

The springs top off at about 25 feet deep, and it is a favorite location for cave diving as well as regular swimming. The water is so clear that it’s perfect for either of these pastimes, but you can also go hiking, bird watching, fishing, and more.

4. Little Lake Harris

Next up, we have the gorgeous Little Lake Harris, located near Lake Harris proper. Rather than including Lake Harris on this list, we decided to opt for its smaller and calmer counterpart. Lake Harris is large and can have choppier waters, making it more appropriate for adults and seasoned swimmers. If you’re with children or are just looking for a more relaxed time on the water, check out Little Harris Lake to its southeast.

One of the best features of this particular swimming spot is its location. It resides in central Florida and is about 36 miles from Orlando. If you and the grandkids are on a trip to Disney World, but you are craving some of the natural beauty Florida is known for, this is a convenient day trip that’s well worth the trek.

Take a Break by the Lake

One of the advantages of swimming in a Florida lake is that many of the lakes feature beautiful blue tableaus due to their clear water. You can match the water with our Grecian Tile Bandeau Sarong One Piece. Complete with many flattering shades of blue, you can enjoy the lake in style when you’re wearing this one piece. 


Open Water Swimming Tips | USMS

Spring Heat Makes Water Activities Tempting, but Cold Water Can Be Very Dangerous | The Weather Channel

Manatees | National Geographic