I've been tubing the Ichetucknee since I was a UF student back in the 1980s. It's funny to think that so many people visit Florida or even reside here and never experience what I consider to be the "real" Florida attractions. This is one of them. Pack a cooler (you can't take them on the springs but there are picnic tables in the South entrance throughout) with a Publix sub, some chips and drinks and you're ready to go. Rent tubes from the numerous vendors along the country roads leading to the park. They'll help twine the tubes to the roof of your car or truck.
We've brought our daughters since before they could swim. They're all high school and college aged now and still love the river. If you have little ones who can't swim all that well bring a life jacket for them. They're going to want to swim around in the river - and although it is a "lazy" river the current can be deceivingly swift. I am a good swimmer (triathlete) and have to work some days to make progress upstream depending upon the volume that day. But by no means is this river like rapids you find in the mountains. On a tube the current appears lazy and relaxed.
I wear those Keen water shoes so as to protect my feet - especially when exiting the river. There are logs and such that you might bump into as well. But we've all gone barefoot many times without incident. Flip flops no good unless you tie them to your tube - (bring the twine from your roof rack on the river and tie your tubes together so your family stays together and you can hop off the tube for a swim without worrying where it might go on it's own).
Don't be afraid of gators or snakes. I've tubed this river dozens of times and have only seen a gator two times. And they were a good distance away on the banks. Have seen a snake or two but again, very uncommon as they stay away from people. You mostly see fish and turtles.
The tram will take you back to the parking lot (South entrance) once you are done. If you want to eat lunch then go again you can or there are drop areas for your tubes - you don't have to bring them back to the vendor. They pick them up from the drop area inside the park.
Visited June 2013
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