- The Adventurous Alfords
The allure of the crystal clear waters draws in hundreds of people a day. Ginnie Springs is definitely a must do on your list of summer trips this year. However, it comes with a few “know before you go” details so be sure to read carefully.
The campsites were beautiful and clean, wooded and almost enchanting especially at sunset. Here’s where it gets a little... interesting. Most of the campsites are not very spaced out. And it is CROWDED on the weekends. The idea behind Ginnie Springs campground, in my opinion, is to be friends and family with everyone. You all camp together, swim together, laugh together. It really is one big party. But a lot of campers like to go camping for peace, tranquility, and to connect with nature... Ginnie Springs is NOT for those campers. But if you are set on crossing the famous springs off of your bucket list, then don’t worry, things are so much quieter during the week. So if you are able to take some weekdays off, then you can still get that relaxing and laid back camping experience with no problem. I suggest this be when you take the kiddos as well. If you are looking for a crazy, fun party in the springs where you float down a river with your cooler and closest friends, then this place is where it’s at on the weekends! I want to mention that each campsite is equipped with a small grill so remember to bring charcoal or buy some at the general store. You can buy firewood at this store as well or you can bring your own but don't forget your lighter. You can also opt for a more primitive campsite with no running water or electricity. These sites are significantly cheaper but the Adventurous Alfords definitely enjoyed our electricity and running water campsite. Please see the following link to Ginnie Springs' website for more campsite pricing details: https://ginniespringsoutdoors.com/
*Our family chose site 13. This site was the absolute closest electric and water site to the Ginnie Spring and bath house with a semiprivate walking path that led straight to the tent from the spring and then a more public walking path along side of it.
As far as Covid19... I witnessed very few masks and very little regard for social distancing. Our family wore our masks in the store to grab some things and check in. Otherwise we were able to socially distance around the campground and springs because we chose to visit on Thursday and Friday and left Saturday morning. So it was not too difficult to keep our distance from people. Our campsite also had running water so we were able to wash our hands constantly and had hand sanitizer as well. This will probably be easier if you choose to take a camper. It is also a good idea to bring a travel size can of Lysol or a few Clorox wipes in a ziplock bag to wipe down your rentals. Speaking of rentals, try to bring your own life jackets. They are required to be on board with you whether you wear them or not, but if you plan on wearing them, you will want to have your own if you are trying to be cautious of the corona virus.
Now for the things you need to bring on your trip to make your experience the best...
Large novelty floats: Ginnie Springs is a fresh water spring so it is COLD. Get in quick and hold your breath so that the 68 degree temp doesn’t steal it from you. Kids usually don’t mind cold water but be mindful of just how cold the water is. Our kids were freezing and became miserable after a short time. A great remedy to this was our large peacock float that we brought with us from home. Large floats can keep you and the kids up out of the water, nice and warm but still allows them to dip in and out as often as they want. Definitely rent kayaks and paddle boards as well, to take up and down the river while coasting in and out of coves and different springs. This is another way you and the kids can stay comfortable.
Water shoes and goggles: You will absolutely need good water shoes. The ground is very uneven, covered in stones and wood spikes. my husband was the only one that went without and you can guess the only one who paid for it... Do not forget your snorkel gear! There is so much to see under the beautiful surface of those chilly waters. You do not want to miss it.
A tent or camper: The fam chose to tent camp in Ginnie Springs. Not many people care to camp in a tent but we are not your typical family. We brought along a small window ac unit that we set up using a tutorial I found on Pinterest. I brought our most comfy linen and pillows and one short strand of white Christmas lights. The kids were as excited and as comfortable as if we were in a fort in our own living room.
Groceries: Ginnie Springs has a large general store. This is where you check in. It also has a small grocery, coffee, ice cream bars, apparel and all of your snorkeling needs. We were able to purchase hotdogs to roast and other snacks and drinks. You pay for your rentals here as well.
A waterproof bag and phone case: Unless you have a pretty fancy underwater camera, you will want to make sure that your phone is waterproof to capture those amazing moments underwater. If you can get a small waterproof bag, you can carry all of your snacks, a water bottle, goggles, and phone with no worries.
Rentals: You can either purchase 3 or 6 hours on the kayaks and paddle boards a day. I suggest ordering one of each for your family. The kayak is great for carrying your belongings and drinks and the paddle board is good for the kids to lay on and look off of the edge to see down into the water with their goggles. Once you pay for your rentals, walk outside and to the end of the store to show your receipt where an attendant will give you your life vests (if you don’t have your own) and the key to unlock your rental. Once you have your key, walk down to the spring where the rentals are all locked up. This is a great system. If you need a break you can just lock your rental back up without hauling it all back to your campsite. Just remember to keep up with your key. See the following link for rental pricing: https://ginniespringsoutdoors.com/activities-rentals/
A break from "roughing" it...
If roasting weenies is not your jam, don’t fret. Just a short 15 minute drive out of the campground is a darling small town called High Springs. It is filled with small business owned barber shops, antiques stores, and eateries. But the absolute best food was by far The Great Outdoors. Choose to sit outside! With the current global pandemic, the staff were taking ALL precautions. All staff wear masks all of the time. Guests are asked to wear a mask unless they are seated at their table. The menus and silverware are disposable. The braised beef nachos were awesome but the seafood cassoulet was absolutely sinful. Their mules were on point but make it a strawberry one for fun. The kids danced on the outdoor empty stage while we waited on our food (which was a very short wait). The outdoor stone fireplace was inviting. The artwork and photography that hangs inside is beautiful so be sure to check it out on your way to the bathroom. As much as we love camping, this casual restaurant made us feel spoiled and rejuvenated.
Only visit Ginnie during the day and stay elsewhere if you choose...
If you choose not to camp, you can opt for a nearby hotel for the family and only purchase a day pass per person into Ginnie springs. The only downfall is the closest hotel is approximately 7.5 miles away. One Airbnb that I found for 5 guests is linked here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/40231605?location=Ginnie%20Spring%2C%20Florida&adults=2&source_impression_id=p3_1592149438_Rf72fU20v%2FdDbAqP&guests=1 I have also have to link this unique tiny home on Airbnb that is located 1.5 miles from Ginnie springs but it is only suitable for two guests so you may want to keep it on your list as a romantic get away or a fun trip for you and your bestie: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/42659749?location=Ginnie%20Spring%2C%20Florida&adults=2&source_impression_id=p3_1592149534_a1wBiPFcJGboVdEg&guests=1
I hope that this has given you plenty of information that helps you decide on whether or not Ginnie Springs will make the cut on your places to visit this summer. It really was truly a lifetime experience. So get the camera charged, bring your go pro, pack some good food and stock that cooler for an epic adventure that you will truly never forget. Take in the scenery up and down the river and coast in and out of lagoons that are fit for mermaids. We are hoping to go back next year (in a RV) for a fun parents only getaway!
The Adventurous Alfords