Whether you just want to dip your toes, splash around or dive right in, here are some local places where you can cool off in the water:
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Fort Island Gulf Beach
16000 W. Fort Island Trail
Fort Island Gulf Beach is a family-friendly beach with beautiful white powdery sand, restrooms, showers and parking. Besides swimming, you can walk along the boardwalk and observe some of the natural wildlife. Sometimes you can see dolphins swimming in the Gulf waters.
The beach is handicapped/wheelchair accessible via a mobility beach mat that goes from the parking lot to near the water’s edge, allowing easier access to the beach.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Pets are NOT permitted at the beach.
Whispering Pines Park Pool
1700 Forest Drive, Inverness, FL 34453
The Whispering Pines Pool Complex features a 25-meter Junior Olympic swimming pool complete with 10-foot diving well and diving board.
Next to the pool is a shallow wading pool for small children and toddlers who have yet to be potty trained.
Swim diapers are required for all children not yet potty trained. The pool has restrooms equipped with baby changing stations and showers. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Food and drinks are not permitted in the pool facility; however, a picnic area is nearby. Bottled water is permitted on deck.
Daily fees: Children under age 1 are free, ages 1 and older $3. Pool passes are available.
Bicentennial Park Pool
8145 W. Bicentennial Park Drive, Crystal River, FL 34429
The heated Junior Olympic-size swimming pool has a handicap ramp built into the pool, along with an accessible water-wheelchair that allows you to enter and exit with ease.
Open swim for ages 4 and under is free, ages 5-11 is $1, ages 12-59 is $2, age 60 and up is $1.
Pool passes are available.
Summer Friday Family Fun Nights are from 6-8 p.m. July 14, 25 and Aug. 4.
Hunter Springs Park
104 NE First Ave., Crystal River, FL 34429
Hunter Springs is one of the 70 natural springs that feed the Crystal River and Kings Bay, keeping the water at a pretty constant 72 degrees year-round. The park offers a small beach area leading to a roped-off swimming area and a kayak/canoe launch.
There’s also a boardwalk along the water, a playground area and other amenities.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day.
There is a fee to park, also a fee to launch paddle craft. Pay stations accept credit card payments only. Also, have your vehicle tag number available when paying.
3699 E. Orange Drive, Hernando, FL 34442
The beach at Lake Hernando, part of the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes, is still a place people can go to swim.
No lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk.
For waterplay, Citrus County has two free splash pads
Crystal River Town Square Splash Pad opened in November 2021, located right below the water tower in downtown Crystal River. The 1,000-square-foot splash pad consists of flattened fountains throughout the paved surface that reach heights of up to seven feet before raining down.
At night, each fountain is a ring of light, which colors the water as it jets from the ground.
Picnic tables are nearby, along with a covered patio.
The Crystal River Splash Pad is at 551 NW First Ave., Crystal River, FL 34429.
Whispering Pines Park Splash Pad is a “zero-depth” splash pad ideal for toddlers and young children. Tucked away in the pines, it’s a favorite of families looking for fun ways to beat the heat with their small and not-so-small children. Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
Whispering Pines Park is at 1700 Forest Drive, Inverness, FL 34453
Rainbow Springs State Park
19158 S.W. 81st Place Road, Dunnellon FL 34432
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, 365 days a year (unless closed at capacity).
Cost: $2 per person. Children under 6 admitted free.
Rainbow Springs in nearby Dunnellon has long been a favorite day trip for Citrus County residents with its cool, year-round 72-degree waters. The depth of the spring pool varies from 5 to 18 feet.
All inflatables, including rafts, tubes and balls, are not allowed in the park for safety reasons. Swimmers may wear life preservers or use noodles.
Tubing the Rainbow River is not allowed within the headsprings area of the park. Instead, visit the tubing entrance located on S.W. 180th Avenue Road, Dunnellon.
Tubing availability through Labor Day: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., seven days a week.
There is a park entrance fee of $2 per person. Once you park at the tubing entrance, go to the concessionaire to rent tubes and receive shuttle service.
The tubing trip takes about two hours to complete.
Call guest services at 833-945-2925 for more information about tube rental and shuttle fees.
All tubers must be at least 5 years of age. Tubers who are 5 or 6 years old must wear and fasten a life jacket while tubing.
The water is over 10 feet deep and there is no lifeguard on duty; all swimmers do so at their own risk.
KP Hole Park
9435 SW 190th Avenue Rd, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Summer hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The KP Hole Park is a destination that provides access to the Rainbow River. Open daily, it offers swimming, picnicking, a public boat ramp and a kayaking launching dock.
Entrance fees: $7 per park user and paddle craft vessel per day
Tubing: $30 tubing package, per person, includes: entry fee, tube rental and return shuttle service.
Call ahead to ask about availability because the park reaches capacity quickly, especially on weekends.