Ginnie Springs is a privately owned recreation area located about 45 minutes NW of Gainesville. To be completely blunt, it seems like Ginnie Springs' most redeeming quality is the fact that they are one of the only parks (if not the last one) to allow alcohol in the springs area -- just no glass bottles / containers. This can be fun, as people can enjoy a beer or two while floating down the lazy river in an inner tube, however, it seems that this perk can draw a pretty wild party crowd around spring break - during the summer. When we went it was President's Day weekend in February, so the park was a little busy but not too bad. But after seeing some of the reviews on Yelp, it seems like it is mostly a hotspot for college kids / fraternities and sororities during their busy season. This may not be an issue for some people, but if you're looking for a nice, relaxing nature getaway, it seems like this campground & recreation area may not be the place for you around March - July.
I found the way they let you rent the campsites a little unique. It was a $50 deposit for each site, and there is no limit on the amount of people per site. Each person that shows up just pays around $25 to camp (this includes their admission to the springs as well). There was also a $10 fee per site for the water and electric, so two of us just paid $35 instead of just $25. I could see this as being pretty expensive if you're paying for your whole family, but since each person in our group paid individually it wasn't too bad -- just more expensive then the other places we have camped.
I reserved two medium-sized camp sites (104 & 105), and the area was a little bit poorly marked as we were unsure exactly where our camp ended in the back and the next one began (an XL site). Luckily, those neighbors did not show up so it was not an issue.
The other thing that was a little bit odd about this place was the fact that their online map of all the campsites was very different in-person. Sites that looked far away on the map ended up being right next to us -- which was totally fine -- just a little misleading.
We stayed in the main area that offered both water and electricity, which was a nice little bonus. You can see the electric box right next to our tent in the left-hand corner (above text, right photo).
They also offer what they call "primitive camping" near the river looks like there were actually still bathrooms in that area though, but those sites can not be reserved, and are offered on a first come first serve basis.
We rented inner tubes the first day we got there; it was $6 for a single and $12 for a double. Note: this part of the river is not a clear spring like one would see at Weikwa or Blue Springs. I read somewhere that this is due to the nearby Santa Fe River. I'm kind of surprised that there are not more sightings of alligators since this is Florida; but we did not see anything besides turtles and one snake, but I was definitely side-eyeing the river the whole way down.
The next day some of us shared canoes while others kayaked. Both rentals are pretty cheap at only $10. I did find it a little odd that there was not someone working at the actual spot where you unlock your canoes, and the entrance point to the springs for the canoe is in a little bit of an awkward area. Its got a pretty big drop off of a couple feet as opposed to a gradual incline (like the one at Weikwa Springs) and there was also just a ton of people swimming in the springs area where you're supposed to drop it in. Because of this, you're left to sort of maneuver around adults, kids, and the occasional snorkeler. I can't imagine what this spot looks like during their busy season.
One thing we did not do that seems to be one of the most popular activities here is the snorkeling / diving. The photos on their site of the diving here look pretty epic.
Long exposure on the iPhone -- definitely doesn't do the night sky there justice.
Overall, this place was a lot of fun to camp at! I think we will definitely check out some other places in the area before we come back to camp, but I wouldn't mind hanging out here again.
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See you on the next adventure. Thank you so much for reading. xx
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