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Ponce de Leon, FL

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is located in the southern part of town, north of I-10. For over 100 years, locals and visitors alike flock to the state park for its beautiful springs. The main spring is a shocking 68° F, year round. The bottom is sand and limestone, giving the popular swimming area a light greenish blue appearance.

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Founded

1882

Population

512

Timeless Enjoyment at Ponce de Leon Springs

For generations, people have been taking a dip in the clear waters. In the late 1800s, children would begin their mornings by placing watermelons in the springs, then leave to work on the farm during the day and return to the springs to fetch their cold watermelons to eat and cool off. Ponce de Leon State Park continues to offer family fun, whether it’s 300 yards of crystal-clear water flowing in what’s called the “jungle river” or its trails for hiking, jogging, and biking. It’s also a great spot to have a picnic and do some bird watching.

The Origin of the Diver Down Flag

The town has the truest limestone-based, cave-fed springs west of Hwy 81. Vortex Spring is one of the largest diving facilities in the state of Florida and is home to the red and white “Diver Down” flag. The flag was invented in the 1950s by Vortex founder Denzel “Doc” Dockery from Michigan, who wanted a flag to keep boats at a safe distance from dive boats. He used a combination of the Navy’s red ‘Bravo’ flag that was used to indicate danger and sewed a horizontal white stripe across it. The “diver down” flag is widely used for scuba diving and has saved countless lives since its creation.

Vortex Spring Adventures: A Family Legacy

Vortex Spring is a family-owned and operated business since the early ’70s. Doc’s son Daryl and his wife Angela keep the resort and its many amenities running for visitors to enjoy. To this day, Vortex Spring Adventures is recognized as one of the best and safest diving resorts in the country. This 500+ acre resort produces approximately 32 million gallons of crystal “gin-clear” water daily for diving, swimming and sliding down one of its ten slides. Vortex Spring boasts natural caverns with a depth of 150 feet inside the underwater cave system. They offer different levels of on-site dive training, from PADI certifications to cave diving certifications, and with the Dow Jones, a 28-foot sailboat sunken in the spring, their trained and certified dive instructors offer penetration dives, taking you to a whole other dive classification. And here’s a fun fact about the fish in the spring: they love string cheese!

With campgrounds and lodging facilities, visitors can stay and explore the resort for as long as they want. “We want our guests to come here for the life experiences. Vortex Spring Adventures is here for families to make memories,” said Owner Angela Dockery.

Local Eats: Food Trucks and Cafe’s in Ponce de Leon

If all the exploring has you hungry for something delicious to eat, two local food trucks offer a variety of food and treats. The Lunchbox cooks up foot-long hot dogs, burgers, and BBQ. For dessert, swing by Brainfreeze for 15 flavors of ice cream, hand-dipped cones, sundaes, and waffle bowls.

Let’s not forget Panhandle Organic Cafe, a veteran-owned gem nestled in Ponce De Leon, FL. From rich coffee to vegan delights, they offer a cozy spot for all to enjoy. Whether it’s a quick sandwich or a leisurely latte, this cafe promises a warm welcome and delicious flavors.

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park and Vortex Spring, home to the Diver Down flag, are the main attractions in Ponce de Leon.

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