The closest major spring to Orlando (just 20 minutes north, off I-4’s exit 94) is, despite encroachment by suburbs and malls, one of the prettiest preserves in the area. When you think of Florida, you don’t normally picture rambling rivers, but the 42-mile Wekiva (yes, spelled differently than the park’s name and pronounced “Wek-eye-va”) is federally designated as “Wild and Scenic,” meaning it hasn’t been dammed or otherwise despoiled by development, despite the fact it’s just northwest of Orlando’s sprawl near Apopka. The springhead, fed by two sources, flows briskly over rock and sand, and some people come to fish, but most agree that its canoeing is among the most spectacular in the state.

Wekiwa Springs State Park Nature Adventures (; 407/884-4311) rents canoes and kayaks ($35 for 2 hr.). Developers would love to sink their bulldozers’ claws into this paradise; in fact, so much water is being siphoned from it that its flow is rapidly diminishing.