“I want to go there a thousand times!” my daughter told me on our ride home from Lithia Springs Regional Park, which is located along the Alafia River.
I was exhausted. It had been a long — but really fun — day! We all agreed we wanted to plan another trip back (although a thousand times might be pushing it).
Where did we go? Swimming at Lithia Springs!
On a recommendation, my daughter and I, along with some friends, trooped off to Lithia Springs Park. We left the house early on a Thursday with cars loaded with floaties, beach supplies and a picnic lunch.
Lithia Springs Park opens at 8 a.m., but the swimming hole opens at 10 a.m. We arrived just in time for the opening of the swimming area gates and headed in to stake out our space on the beach — a narrow strip of sand that wraps along a portion of the springs. There is also some grass within the swimming enclosure for chairs and blankets.
Stepping into the water, there are hundreds of tiny, perfect shells underfoot, and it’s clear to the bottom! As you wade further in, you can watch fish of varying sizes swimming around your feet. (We even saw a mullet jumping!) The water is cold! The water temperature remains a constant, and refreshing, 72 degrees year round.
The kids had a ball riding on their floaties and digging holes in the sand. At noon we headed into the park to enjoy our picnic lunch at one of the many picnic tables scattered throughout the park, and the kids played on the playground for a while we headed back to the water, which was considerably more crowded than it had been in the morning.
We spent the day in the shallow area. To give you an idea of how shallow it is, I walked two-thirds of the way across the springs (toward the lifeguard house you see in the back of the picture above) and the water still only came up to my chest (I’m only 5’1″). However, for those who are more adventurous, there is a deep end at the far end of the springs (back right area of the picture above), past a bouy rope. Floaties are not permitted in the deep end, and there is no sand there … just a concrete wall.
Several lifeguards watch the crowd throughout the day, and periodically everyone is asked to exit the water for a 15-minute safety check. The park also provides a restroom facility, but beware that it is a considerable walk from the swimming area.
If you go:
There is a $2/vehicle (up to 8 persons) park entrance fee which gives you access to the picnic tables and playground. An additional $2/person gets you all-day admission to the swimming area. (NOTE: Even if you don’t intend to go in the water, if you plan to sit near others who are swimming, you will need to pay the $2 swim fee for a wristband that will allow you access into the swimming enclosure.)
Lithia Springs Regional Park
3931 Lithia Springs Road
Lithia, FL 33547
DISCLOSURE: We paid the $2/vehicle park entrance fee and the $2/person swimming fee on our own. The opinions expressed here are completely my own based on my own experience and the expressed feelings of my friends during our day spent at Lithia Springs Park.