If you’ve ever searched “fun outdoor things to do in Florida,” I’m pretty sure that this next adventure is one of the top experiences.
A few months after moving to Florida, I found photos of a beautiful river filled with crystal clear water and people canoeing/kayaking on it. I immediately knew that it was something that I wanted to do and searched for its location. Luckily, my family visited for spring break so I had people to go with me (although this is something that I think would still be super fun alone!).
Turns out that location was Kings Landing, a popular spot for kayakers in Rock Springs Run State Reserve. Kings Landing is near Apopka, about 1 hour, 40 minutes from Jacksonville, or 30-ish minutes from Orlando. You can bring your own canoe, kayak or paddleboard and launch it yourself, or you can rent a canoe/kayak from local businesses. It was $60 for us to rent a 3-person canoe for 4 hours, or you can rent 1 or 2-person kayaks for $50 each, I think. Canoeing is verrryyy hard and much harder than kayaking, so that’s something to keep in mind when choosing. You cannot bring a motorized boat to Kings Landing; the river (more of a stream, really) is super narrow and shallow and not appropriate for motorized boats, especially if both paddlers and motors were on it.
We reserved our launching time for about noon and had all afternoon on the water, which was perfect for us. It was a beautiful early spring day, not too hot or humid. Kings Landing is also in a nature preserve, so there was actually a lot of shade and we didn’t have to worry too much about sunburn. Unfortunately, it was spring break so there was a ton of people out on the water, but we were still able to socially distance and stay safe.
After launching our canoe, we rode down the stream towards the nature preserve. It was really beautiful! There were Lilly pads everywhere, interesting birds and very large fish. We had also heard that there were alligators in this section of the river but we didn’t see any. We were, however, very careful to not tip in this section of the stream. There are also poisonous snakes (called water moccasins) in Florida, so please be safe and keep that in mind when out in nature here. I spotted a snake on the river but it wasn’t a poisonous one (I think) and it wasn’t in the water, just relaxing near on a tree on the river’s edge. We appreciated it from a distance and the safety of our boat.
Going up the nature preserve wasn’t as shady and we were getting pretty hot, so we decided to turn around and go towards the opposite end of the river. You can actually go all the way to the start of the river at the spring, but we didn’t make it that far (more on that later).
There’s a spot near where we launched the boat that is super shallow and where a bunch of people were swimming, relaxing and hanging out. We stayed there for a few minutes to cool off but didn’t stay long for COVID safety reasons.
It was a bit of a traffic jam on this half of the river because it’s where most people like to go – crystal clear water, beautiful nature, shade. It was perfect, almost like a dream.
After about 2.5 hours of rowing, that dream ended when we finally tipped the boat. Correction: I did not tip the boat, one of my travel companions did… It was not fun. We’d had a few scares before but managed to save it. Not this time. The boat filled with water, all of our stuff got wet and wet had to figure out how to get the water out of the boat.
We figured it out and rowed a little further down the river but I was anxious from our tipping and wanted to get out and swim a little bit to relax.
Our pitstop to relax lasted an hour and turned out to be the end of our journey and we didn’t go any further, so we didn’t get to see the spring.
Eventually, it was time for us to head back to return the boat. We had the flow of the river behind us so it went really quickly and we really only had to paddle to steer.
I was really sore in the evening and day after from rowing, but that was about it. If you have kids, I think that this could be a really fun thing to do with them! I went with my little brother and he absolutely loved it!
This was literally a dream experience. I was in awe of the location for the majority of the day and couldn’t really talk or think about anything else. It feels like you’re an adventurer, exploring an untamed wilderness. It was truly magical.
Overall, I thought that this experience was really, really fun and I would do it again! Probably never going to canoe again, but I’ll go kayaking! I really want to get a paddleboard, too, and learn to paddleboard. (Any tips or recommendations for a [cheap] inflatable paddleboard??)
I highly recommend this experience if you’re in Florida and looking to do something exciting outdoors!
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Kings Landing, or have you ever tipped a canoe? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!