The best springs to visit based on your pathway

Central Florida consists of more than 200 of the world’s most wondrous springs, each one unique with an opportunity to not only indulge in nature, but also learning. As warmer months are upon us, we might begin planning trips to the springs that meet our specific educational and outdoor desires.  

Rainbow Springs State Park, Silver Springs State Park, Ginnie Springs and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park are a few incredible destinations that offer insight to students seeking experience in various career paths. Although this is not an entire compilation of Central Florida springs to visit, these are the ones I find most intriguing that you should not hesitate to dive into this summer!  

Posing a unique opportunity for students interested in completing a degree in animal science, Rainbow Springs State Park is 30 minutes away from the College of Central Florida’s campus. Located at 19158 S.W. 81st Place Road in Dunnellon, Fla., and is open from 8 a.m. to sunset, 365 days a year, with a $2 admissions fee.  

Just 20 minutes away from campus and located at 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd. is Ocala’s Silver Springs, State Park. It is open until sunset daily and offers $2 admission costs, 30-minute glass-bottom boat tours until 6 p.m. daily, and kayak rentals until 4 p.m. daily. This spring offers an experience for history majors seeking in-depth information about the Ocala community, like how Creature from the Black Lagoon and six Tarzan movies were both filmed there. 

Another educational opportunity awaits students at Ginnie Springs, which makes the perfect destination for the college’s future microbiologists. Approximately one hour away from campus, it is at 7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, Fla., open from 8 a.m. to sunset, $15 per person during non-season and $20 while in season.   

Then there is Weeki Wachee State Park and Buccaneer Bay, which requires no treasure map to locate. This location is close to U.S. 19 and opens from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, with an admission cost of $13 for adults and $8 for kids aged 6 to 12-years-old.  

Students can research animal sciences further at What is an Animal Science Major? ( Their degrees however can prepare them to start their careers in animal-related studies, including medicine, research, policy, and management work. While studying animal sciences, students oversee breeding, behavior and physiology among various species, including exotic animals. 

Rainbow Springs State Park is the perfect candidate for this pathway because it is home to several exotic animal species. Barred owl couple Houston, Carly and their owlets are prime examples of exotic animals residing in the park. Not to mention, spectators might witness the owl parents often retrieving snakes to feed their young. 

History pathways consist of studying world events and museums while effectively communicating what you learn during the process. When the historians on-campus visit Silver Springs State Park, which offers some of the city’s oldest exhibits and monuments, they will learn about Col. W. M. Davidson’s and Carl Ray’s first glass-bottom boat and fiberglass statues underneath the surface.  

I urge aspiring microbiologists to visit Ginnie Springs as soon as possible. The water board approved the pumping of Ginnie Springs to benefit Nestle, and more information is at Board Approves Pumping Of Ginnie Springs Water To Benefit Nestle | WUSF Public Media 

Microbiologists are essential for studying infection-causing organisms and environmental damage,including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Microbiologists are also vital to fighting against climate change. Students can help in our community, so why would they not want to? 

A curious mind and passion for learning can lead you anywhere, so let that curiosity lead you to Weeki Wachee State Park. This famous tourist attraction draws visitors from across the country seeking a chance to see “real” mermaids. So, take a ride on the water slides, and enjoy the show, because after all, this is just research for future business majors. 

The beauty of these central Florida springs offers more than scenic views and weekend getaways. With a small bit of creativity, you can find a variety of ways to learn while outside the classroom. So, pack a bottle of sunscreen with your pens and pencils, and learn everything these springs have to offer.