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Gainesville in Florida is famous for being the location of the University of Florida. However, there’s much more to do to this city than its university. This is because the history of Gainesville dates back thousands of years, and it features many wetlands and wild forests that have been preserved to this day. The city is also home to unique restaurants, museums, breweries, nightclubs, botanical gardens, and malls. People enjoy visiting the Florida Museum of Natural History, Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, and Downtown Gainesville. They also like to explore the Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation, Lake Alice, Depot Park, and the historic Haile Homestead. However, one of the most unique spots to visit in Gainesville, and one of Florida's most beautiful hidden gems is the marvelous Ichetucknee Springs State Park, where they can witness the beautiful Ichetucknee River, known for its dazzlingly blue waters.

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Here’s What To Know About Tubing Northern Florida’s Ichetucknee River

People visiting the Ichetucknee Springs State Park will mostly enjoy tubing the Ichetucknee River. It’s a unique summer pleasure loved by the University of Florida’s students in Gainesville. They just need an hour to reach the river from the college campus and enjoy this only-in-Florida experience. The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is 2,242 acres large and features amazing hiking trails, picnic areas, and a spring-fed clear swimming hole.

  • When to visit: People who want to enjoy tubing the Ichetucknee River should visit on a weekday. If they prefer to come during the weekend, they are recommended to be in line at the gates at 8:00 AM. This is to avoid waiting. Traffic backups are sometimes avoided by opening the gates earlier on weekends. The tubing ends at 7:00 PM.
  • Opening times: Tubing the Ichetucknee River is possible from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.
  • Cost: People expect to pay $6 per vehicle as an entrance fee to the park. This applies to a maximum of 8 people. The tubing tram costs $5.5. People who don’t bring their tube with them can rent one. The latter will cost them anywhere between $6 and $25. Tubes can also be rented from outside the park.

Anyone can go tubing in the Ichetucknee River, even small children. However, they should be given life vests. Older children will have fun tubing and swimming. However, people must note that the water is cold even during the hot summer months.

Here Are Some Tips To Best Enjoy Tubing The Ichetucknee River

People heading to Ichetucknee Springs State Park must do so early after packing their breakfast. The park is located on the northern side of Gainesville in Fort White. People need around 2 hours to reach their destination from Jacksonville. There are many spots where people can rent tubes, such as the Ichetucknee Tube Center located on Elim Church Road. If one has children who want to ride with them, they can rent two and three-seater tubes. Sometimes, children may not be comfortable feeling the cold water. This is why it’s better to rent tubes with bottoms. The open bottom rafts will suit older kids who enjoy moving around. At the end of the day, people can return the tubes at the South Entrance at the tube drop-off locations.

For the parking, it’s best to keep the car at the South Entrance. The shuttles will transport people next to the tubing location at the North End. The duration of the tubing experience lasts around 3.5 hours, starting from the North End to the South Entrance. However, people must note that the North End has a maximum capacity of 750 tubers. This is why they should reach the location very early to have the chance to participate in the experience.

Those who don’t want to spend the full 3.5 hours on tubing can start at Mid-Point Launch instead of the North End. There’s a tram that takes visitors from the South parking lot to the Mid-Point Launch. This experience needs around 2 hours to complete and ends at the Last Take Out. However, people also have the option to exit at Dampier’s Landing, 45 minutes into the experience.

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Here’s What To Bring When Tubing The Ichetucknee River

People afraid for their kids floating in the river alone can get a rope or bungee cords with them. Other items to bring include a waterproof bag and a waterproof case for the phone. People can put the camera, sunscreen, keys, bug spray, and other essentials inside the bag. Those who want to jump in the waters to explore should also get a snorkel mask and goggles. People must also note that disposable water bottles are banned at the park. Thus, they should bring water in a plastic tumbler.

Additionally, food and other drinks are not allowed into the river. Other banned stuff include alcohol, tobacco, fishing items, and disposable items. People can’t also bring their pets to the river. Visitors to the Ichetucknee Springs State Park must also note that their bags will be inspected by the staff there.

Food and drinks can be packed inside a cooler so that people can consume them during the break at the picnic areas. Food and beverages are only banned on the river. Another option is to enjoy some delicious sandwiches, burgers, salads, and hot dogs at the South Entrance’s full-service concession stand.