How does one beat the soggy heat of a Florida summer? Air conditioning and backyard pools are obvious answers, but there are other ways to cool off that you may not have thought of.
You can go swimming, canoeing, kayaking or tubing at some of Florida’s natural springs, whose waters stay at a constant 72 degrees. You can descend into a cave, where the temperature remains at 65 degrees year-round. There are water parks, ice rinks and other venues where you can go solo or throw a party, but where cold is an integral part of the experience.
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Springs attractions vary: Silver Springs near Ocala is Florida’s largest, Blue Spring near Orlando is the state’s most popular, Weeki Wachee has a mermaid show, Alexander Springs has a sand beach. For a list of major Florida springs: www.floridasprings.org.
A 45-minute guided tour of the cavern costs $8 for adults, $5 for children 3-12, is given Thursdays-Monday. Park admission is $5 for up to eight people in a vehicle. The park, located in Marianna, also offers golfing, camping and canoeing. 850-482-9598, www.floridastateparks.org.
Tubing is so popular in summer that the park often reaches its limit of 750 tubers from the north end or 2,250 from midpoint on weekends. “It’s best to go early [on weekends] or Monday to Thursday,” said park biologist Ginger Morgan. The park, in Fort White, does not supply tubes; they can be rented from outfitters just outside the park. 386-497-4690, Ichetucknee Springs State Park, www.floridastateparks.org.
Most parks are open only during warmer months of the year; consult web sites for operating days and hours. Parks and their locations, starting with the closest:
• Rapids Water Park, Riviera Beach (West Palm),www.rapidswaterpark.com
• Wet ‘n Wild, Orlando,
• Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, in Walt Disney World,www.disneyworld.disney.go.com
• Aquatica, next to SeaWorld Orlando, www.seaworldorlando.com.
• Adventure Island, by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay,
• Legoland Water Park, in Legoland, Winter Haven,www.florida.legoland.com
• Wild Waters, in Silver Springs State Park, Ocala,www.floridastateparks.org
• Buccaneer Bay, in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park,www.floridastateparks.org
• Shipwreck Island Water Park, associated with Adventure Landing, Jacksonville Beach,www.adventurelanding.com
• Shipwreck Island Water Park, Panama City Beach,www.shipwreckisland.com
• Big Kahuna’s Water Park, Destin,www.bigkahunas.com