A short 90 minute drive east down I-10 from Pensacola, will take you to the small town of Ponce de Leon, FL, Once you get off the interstate at exit 96, you're no more than a 10 minute drive from one of the three (3) stunning, crystal-clear springs!
On a hot day in late July, I packed the kids into the car and we headed to one of those springs - Ponce de Leon Springs State Park.
Although not literally the 'fountain of youth,' Juan Ponce de Leon hoped to find when he landed in Florida in 1513, the spring bearing his name has been a refreshing detour for many visitors over the years. ... European settlers and the Indians before them used Ponce de Leon Springs as a source of drinking water and recreation. The harvesting of timber and turpentine were the major industries in and around the area. The majestic long-leaf pines were ideal for building homes, businesses and the railroad that traversed the panhandle of Florida.
The water temperature of Ponce de Leon Spring remains a breathtaking 68° year round. The main spring is a convergence of two underground water flows, and produces 14 million gallons of water daily. Along with the spring, the park also has 2 nature trails, several pavilions, plenty of picnic tables, and even a few grills for visitor's use.
Our older kid's favorite thing to do is jumping off the platform into the mouth of the spring. In fact, they've been leaping off that platform into the chilly spring waters since they were 7 and 5 years old! (The picture below is of our now 14-year-old taking her very first leap into the spring - with her daddy at her side - at the age of 7.)
Our youngest has zero interest in leaping into the water, so he spends most of his time splashing in the spring run - where it's more shallow and a tad warmer.
The park and spring are open year-round. Some winter visitors even refer to the water as warm when compared to cooler outside temperatures. So, if you're looking to get out of town and explore the gulf coast, give one of Ponce de Leon, FL's springs a try.
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