Guide to The Florida Springs

With over 1,000 springs in Florida, there's a seemingly endless amount of exploration to be done! So consider this your guide to finding the right spring for you and  your crew. 

Looking for even more info? See our Resources page to find more organizations like KOTS or send us a message on our Contact page!

Panhandle/North Florida
North/Central Florida
Central Florida
 
Ichetucknee Springs

As the headwaters of the Ichetucknee River, these springs are a beautiful portrait of wild Florida!

Spring Basics

Ichetucknee Springs State Park is one of our favorite cleanup spots! It’s an easy snorkel or float downstream, perfect for beginner and experienced swimmers alike, and great for families with children.

The Ichetucknee River is a well preserved spring-fed river system which represents how most of our springs used to appear. Originating from Ichetucknee Spring and Blue Hole Spring, the first 3-4 miles of the river are contained within the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. 

Ichetucknee Head Spring is a second magnitude spring and the beginning of the river. Blue Hole Spring, about half a mile down the boardwalk from the head spring, is a first magnitude spring and, due to it’s cavern opening, one of the most recognizable springs in the state. Both of these springs are accessible only by land by entering the north entrance of the park.

 

There are various other smaller springs along the river within the state park. Most can be accessed by watercraft but are not ideal for swimming.

 

There is a lot of interesting history in this area involving the Spanish and Native Americans. You can learn more on the Florida State Park Website.

Spring Wildlife

This State Park is a great place to view an abundance of wildlife. By swimming, paddling, or hiking, you can see many different species including otters, turtles, snakes, many different types of fish, and occasionally manatees. It is very unlikely that you will see alligators anywhere along this river.

This park also has some great hiking trails and is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Spring recreation

This park is great for all types of outdoor activities. By entering from the North Entrance, you can hike, paddle, swim, snorkel, and SCUBA dive. If you want to rent an inner tube and float down the river, you can enter from the North and South Entrance but make sure to check the State Park website beforehand as availability and location can change during different seasons. 

 

For paddlers and snorkelers, there are various put-in and take-out points along this river.

The entire stretch from the dock at the North Entrance to the End Point at the South Entrance is approximately 3.05mi and is best done by paddling. For a shorter, more relaxing inner tube float, we recommend entering from the South side of the park and floating from Midpoint down to End Point for a 1.5mi float.



For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit the State Park website here.

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Troy Spring

In a small State Park just off the Suwanee River, this spring is the perfect place for SCUBA and freedivers!

Spring Basics

Troy Spring State Park holds a first magnitude spring and at approximately 70ft (21.3m) deep, it’s one of the deepest in the area. Although this is a fairly small state park, it still has a short nature trail, watercraft launch, picnic areas, restrooms, a wash station for SCUBA gear, and is completely ADA accessible. 

And for the history buffs out there, an old Civil War-era sunken steamboat can be found at the bottom of the spring run!

Spring Wildlife

Mostly fish and turtles inhabit this spring, but it's direct connection to the Suwannee River means there is potential for alligators to swim in (although this would most likely only be in winter due to the temperature spring water). Manatees are not known to enter this spring.

Spring recreation

Because of its depth, this spring is a haven for SCUBA divers and freedivers. It’s wide walls allow for plenty of room for multiple groups to train at the same time, and the ADA accessibility makes for easy access with dive gear. Although there is a wash station for gear, there are no rentals for diving or paddling available in this park. 

 

Just getting started in the sport of freediving? You can train at Troy Springs! We recommend scheduling a class with Master Switch Freediving, taught by our very own Vice President, David Cobiella.


For more information about Troy Springs State park, visit their park website here.

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Photo by Beth N. Pannell

Wakulla Spring

With its breathtaking size and beauty, you don’t want to miss this incredible park!

Spring Basics

Rich in history and wildlife, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is well worth the trip. This beautiful park in the Wakulla State Forest boasts a large variety of different types of recreation and sightseeing, including a historic lodge, a restaurant, and excellent boat tours on the river. This is a first magnitude spring and the largest and deepest in the world.

Spring Wildlife

This park has an abundance of wildlife above and under the water. By taking the boat tour, you can see many different species including cormorants, egrets, alligators, manatees, and various types of fish. The park is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, so make sure to bring your binoculars.

Spring recreation

SCUBA divers and freedivers are not allowed to swim directly over the spring head, but there is a sandy beach, swimming area, and a two-story jumping platform on the outer edge for swimmers. This spring does not allow public diving of any type, but certified SCUBA divers can enjoy nearby Cherokee Sink, as well as Emerald and Clearcut Sinks if they have a cave-diving certification.

This river does not have paddling opportunities, but the boat tours are a great way to enjoy the river and its wildlife.

There are miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails for a great view of the karst topography.



For more information, visit the park website here.

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Photo by Brent Fannin

Gilchrist BLue Spring

In a state park along the Santa Fe River, this is a great spring for the entire family to enjoy!

Spring Basics

This spring, located within Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Spring State Park, is located in Gilchrist County. Due to it’s beautiful colors and easy access, it’s one of the most well-known springs in North/Central Florida. It is a second magnitude spring and was privately owned until 2017, when it was purchased by the state and became Florida’s 75th state park.

In addition to Blue Spring, this park also contains Johnson Spring, Kiefer Spring, Little Blue Spring, and Naked Spring.

Spring Wildlife

Expect to see a variety of fish and turtles when enjoying this spring and the spring run down to the Santa Fe River. There are rarely any manatees in this area and it is unlikely that you will see any alligators in this spring.

Spring recreation

This spring is great for water-lovers. It is easily accessible and great for swimming, snorkeling, and paddling. You can rent paddling gear from an in-park vendor, or bring your own. But keep in mind that you will need to carry your watercraft approximately 200ft to access the waterway. No motorboats are allowed.

This park also has various camping and RV sites which you can reserve on the park website.



For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit the State Park website here.

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Photo by Cody Willems

Rum Island Spring

This free park is a great way to enjoy the spring and the Santa Fe River with your family!

Spring Basics

Rum Island Spring is a second magnitude spring located on the Santa Fe River. It is only a couple hundred feet upriver from the confluence of Gilchrist Blue Spring. This spring is browned out during the rainy season when the river is high, but it’s a beautiful clear blue the rest of the year. Rum Island Park is currently free to enter, making it an  extremely popular swimming hole and picnic area in the summer months.

Photo by Joe Vincelli

Spring Wildlife

This is a small spring and you may only see a few fish, but there are many birds along this section of the Santa Fe River including great egrets, cormorants, and bald eagles. There are no manatees in this area, and although possible, it is unlikely you will see alligators.

Spring recreation

The spring itself is great for swimming and snorkeling, but the park has a full size boat ramp and a long river bank making it great for paddling, boating and fishing. This park has restroom and waste disposal facilities.

There are no paddling rentals on property, but you can find them down the road at Rum 138.
 

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Poe Spring

A family-oriented park is home for this little spring along the Santa Fe River.

Spring Basics

This 200 acre park with a second magnitude spring is the perfect place for a day trip or a quick scenic walk. With many different amenities including a boat ramp right on the Santa Fe River, it’s ideal for all ages and many different events. The park is also open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. 

Poe Springs Park is also conveniently located next to Gilchrist Blue Spring, Ginnie Springs, and Rum Island Spring, and only a few minutes from downtown High Springs.

Spring Wildlife

With fairly shallow water and a lack of vegetation, this spring is not a great place for aquatic wildlife, but there are some resident turtles that can be found fairly easily. Due to heavy foot traffic trampling the aquatic vegetation and potentially other man-made issues, this is a good example of what can happen when springs are overused, or not properly protected and maintained. Visit the “Life in a Spring” section on the floridasprings.org website for more information on the delicate Springs ecosystem.

Spring recreation

This park is fantastic for outdoor recreation. Unlike many parks in the surrounding area, Poe Springs Park has multipurpose sporting fields (for games like kickball or softball), and pavilions that can be reserved for events (like weddings or group outings). It also has volleyball courts, barbecue pits, and a boardwalk through a cypress swamp, which is ideal for a short scenic hike. 

The spring itself is less than 20ft (6m) deep and even shallower in most places, making it great for families with young children. On the opposite side of the park from the spring is a boat ramp right on the Santa Fe River and there is ample parking for vehicles, large or small. 


For more information, visit the park website here.

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Photo by Melissa Redon

Ginnie Springs

One of the most popular spring areas in the state, Ginnie Springs is a great place to relax and have fun!

Spring Basics

A privately owned park, Ginnie Springs Outdoors has approximately 600 acres with seven accessible springs on the property. This includes Deer Spring, Dogwood Spring, Devil’s Eye, Devil’s Ear, Little Devil, Ginnie Spring, and Twin Spring. Each of these springs has a spring run that connects directly to the Santa Fe River, except for Devil’s Ear, which is in the river itself.

Spring Wildlife

This is one of the most popular springs destinations in the entire state, and with high traffic comes a lower amount of wildlife. But you can still find many birds in the area, various species of fish in the spring runs, and in the winter you can find an abundance of turtles staying warm in the 72 degree spring water.

It is very uncommon, but manatees and alligators have both been spotted at this location.

Spring recreation

Ginnie Springs is one of the best areas in the state for outdoor/water recreation. You can easily access each spring from the river for free, or you can pay to enter through the Ginnie Springs front gate to access by land.

With around 600 acres of campsites, picnic pavilions, bathroom/shower facilities and volleyball courts, you can easily find something to do on land and in the water. You can bring your own water-craft or rent one from the park. 

This spring system is world renowned for SCUBA diving and cave diving. To do so, you must register with the park and pay applicable fees.

For the more casual water lover, this is a great place to swim, float down the river on an inner-tube, or paddle into the spring system to view each individual spring. Don't forget a mask and snorkel!

For more information on how to enjoy these springs, visit the park website here.

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Alexander Spring

In a beautiful and well-maintained recreation area, this spring is one you don't want to miss!

Spring Basics

In the southern section of the Ocala National Forest lies Alexander Springs Recreation Area. This is a first magnitude spring and one of the most picturesque springs in the state. It’s clear blue waters are easily accessible from a beach area and the park is great for family outings.

For photography enthusiasts, we cannot recommend this spring enough! The canyon-like formations surrounding the spring and the crystal clear water make for incredible photo opportunities.

Spring Wildlife

At this Spring, you can expect to see ample amounts of fish and turtles. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, there are many different types of native birds. This spring is also well-known for it’s beautiful vegetation surrounding the spring head. 

Although they are generally small, it is common to see alligators at Alexander Springs. This spring does not typically see any manatee activity.

Spring recreation

With an ADA compliant facility, Alexander Springs Recreation Area is a great location with many different outdoor activity options! Its spring is easily accessible for swimming, snorkeling and diving, and the water leads directly to Spring Creek for paddling lovers (rentals available on-site). For those looking to stay dry, there’s a hiking trail and a large number of campgrounds (click here for reservations).

For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit the State Park website here.

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Juniper Spring

Surrounded by wilderness, this little park is a great place to get away for the weekend.

Spring Basics

In the middle of the Ocala National Forest, this recreation area is undoubtedly one of the most natural and beautiful ones in the state. With numerous outdoor activity options (including an extensive campsite), we recommend putting this one on the top of your list for weekend getaways with friends and family. And with an old millhouse adjacent to the spring, this is also a great place to learn about Florida History.

Spring Wildlife

The area surrounding the Spring is one of the most abundant wildlife areas we’ve found. On land, expect to see deer, raccoons, armadillos, and even the occasional Florida black bear. 

Under the water at the main spring, you can find a few different types of common fish. This is also one of the best places to easily see a freshwater eel up close.

A short hike from the main area is Fern Hammock Spring where it’s not uncommon to see turtles and small alligators.

Photo by Kristin Salisbury

Spring recreation

Whether on land or in the water, this recreation area hosts a broad array of outdoor activities. Juniper Spring is great for snorkeling and swimming. Looking for a more intense paddling excursion? Consider renting a canoe or kayak and head down the Juniper Springs run for a few hours. For an extra fee, the facility staff will pick you up at the end and drive you back to the park. 

For avid hikers, the Florida National Scenic Trail runs through the park and an abundance of wildlife can be seen year round. There is also a boardwalk/trail running through the woods along the spring run.


For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit the State Park website here.

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Photo by Brandy Clark

Rainbow Spring

For a picturesque perfect day for the entire family, you'll definitely want to check out the State Park or float down the river!

Spring Basics

Rainbow Spring is a first magnitude spring and, along with dozens of other smaller springs, produces enough water to begin and sustain the beautiful Rainbow River.

Also a National Natural Landmark, Rainbow Springs State Parks 1,400+ acres are dotted with beautiful gardens and man-made waterfalls, along with an expansive swimming area fed by multiple springs. 

Downriver from the head spring, the park extends for about a third of a mile. Various springs within the river help it maintain its clarity as it winds south into the Withlacoochee River.

The first third of a mile of Rainbow River can be found within the borders of the State Park. After the boundary, the river continues a little over a mile to the most popular entry point: K.P. Hole Park. This is a great place to rent or put in watercraft, use the full facilities, and park your vehicle.

Spring Wildlife

Rainbow River is one of the most ecologically diverse spring-fed rivers in the state. Expect to see high populations of native fish including largemouth bass, mullet, sunfish, and longnose gar underwater. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, you'll find egrets, cormorants, great blue heron and other birds hunting for fish. Alligators have been known to populate the river, but do not commonly come into contact with swimmers or divers. One notable fact about the Rainbow River is that it empties into a lake, which means no manatees can be found in this river.

Spring recreation

This park and the river is perfect for nearly all outdoor activities on land and in the water. The park itself has a swimming area, campsites, picnic areas, hiking trails and gardens, and paddling/inner tube rentals on site. 

Further downstream, you can access the river at K.P. Hole Park for rentals or bring your own boat (has full size boat ramp and full facilities). For good food on the river, check out Swampy's!

For more information on rentals and reservations, visit the State Park website here.

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Salt Springs

Hikers and swimmers alike can both enjoy this beautiful park!

Spring Basics

Salt Springs Recreation Area is located in the Ocala National Forest and named for the slight salinity of the water issuing from this second magnitude spring. With a large spring run flowing into the St. Johns River, this is a very popular summer spot for families wanting to relax and cool down in the crystal clear water. 

Spring Wildlife

This spring has an abundance of fish and blue crabs, and is a good place to see manatees heading in from the St. Johns River. It’s also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and there are many different species of birds that can be seen. It is possible to see alligators in this area when there are not large groups of visitors.

Spring recreation

With clear, shallow water, this spring is a great way to cool off in the hot summer months. Didn’t bring a kayak or canoe? Don’t worry- rentals are available. The Bear Swamp Trail is perfect for hiking and camping spots can be reserved on the park website.



For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit their website here.

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Silver Spring

As far as recreation and relaxation goes, this is one of the best Spring parks in the state!

Spring Basics

Located at the beginning of the Silver River, the Silver Springs State Park has nearly everything a nature-lover could want, and as one of the largest freshwater springs systems in the world, Silver Spring is beautiful to visit year-round. This first magnitude spring joins dozens of other smaller springs to create a clear blue river full of incredible creatures.

Photo by Joe Vincelli

Spring Wildlife

As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, this is a great place to see waterfowl thriving on a river. Along with river otters, one of the most popular animals in the water, the Florida Manatees, can be seen frequently. This river is also a great place to see alligators of varying sizes and other aquatic reptiles like turtles and snakes. There is potential to see various types of land-dwelling mammals like bears, bobcats, raccoons, armadillos and opossums.

Lastly, a remnant of a 1930’s jungle cruise attraction, there are non-native wild monkeys (rhesus macaques) in the trees along the water.

Spring recreation

With more than 10 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails in addition to easy water access, this park is perfect for outdoor recreation. The park has on-site canoe/kayak rentals as well as access for personal watercraft. One of the most well-known attractions is the glass bottom boat tour, which we highly recommend. The friendly, knowledgeable tour guides offer a great way to learn about the springs and their history. Both cabins and primitive camping sites can be reserved for families or large groups. 

Unlike many state parks, Silver Spring has the capacity to hold large festivals and does so at various times throughout the year. These events can be found on their website.


For more information on how to enjoy this spring, visit the park website here.

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Silver Glen Spring

This beautiful park is the perfect place for a family day trip!

Spring Basics

One of multiple spring-holding parks within the Ocala National Forest (ONF), the Silver Glen Recreation Area is great for many different types of recreational activities. This first magnitude spring issues over 65 million gallons of water per day into a beautiful bright blue pool, before heading just under a mile into Lake George in a spring run full of wildlife. 

Directly connected to the main pool is a second magnitude spring that is currently inaccessible for swimming. 

The main spring is approximately 18ft (5.5m) deep and surrounded by shallow sandy areas, making it great for cooling off with family and friends or watching the various animals living in the water.

There is an abundance of notable history from this area, including evidence showing settlements from at least 10,000 years ago. You can learn more about it here.

Spring Wildlife

There are many different types of fish in this spring area, but most commonly seen are schools of white/striped hybrid bass and ladyfish. In addition to the more common Florida spring-dwellers, the mild salinity of this spring allows certain marine species to thrive, and it is not uncommon to see blue crabs and Atlantic stingrays in the spring run or into Lake George.

Manatees can be seen in this area during certain times of the year, as well as alligators.

 

Spring recreation

This spring is one of the best in the ONF for outdoor recreation. For the water lover, you can rent canoes (or bring your own craft) and swim or snorkel. SCUBA is not allowed in this spring. 

For hikers and photographers, there are almost 4mi worth of trails to explore. 

Since this is a day use area only, there is no camping allowed, but they are picnic areas and portable restrooms. 


For more information, visit park website here.

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Photo by Matthew Clark

Volusia Blue Spring

As one of the best places to see Manatees near Florida’s world-famous theme parks, you’ll definitely want to make the trek!

Spring Basics

About an hour north of Orlando, there is a beautiful first magnitude spring located in Volusia Blue Spring State Park. With a significant amount of amenities and things to do, this is a very popular park in the area, and the unique formations within the spring itself make it very popular for snorkeling and diving.

Spring Wildlife

Without a doubt, the most popular animal at this park is the Florida Manatee. Swimming in from the St. John’s river, they can be seen in large numbers throughout the winter months, and occasionally they even appear during warmer temperatures. It is common to see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescuing and releasing manatees from this location.

Other notable species in this area are alligators, different types of turtles, different species of native fish, and the invasive armored catfish. This is one of the best places to see one of the larger predatory fish in Florida - the Longnose Gar. This spring is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Spring recreation

This spring is a haven for SCUBA divers (cave and open water) and freedivers, as well as snorkelers and families wanting to cool off during the hot summer months. There are different types of watercraft available for rental and a boat tour  that travels the St. Johns River.

The park also has cabins, campsites, picnic areas, a historic home, and a small convenience store.


For more information, visit park website here.

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Weeki Wachee Spring

As the only State Park with professional mermaids, this spring is a unique and amazing experience!

Spring Basics

Started in 1947, the Weeki Wachee park and its mermaids have astounded visitors from around the world. In 1982, a water park called Buccaneer Bay was added and still functions today. Eventually, in 2008, it became a State Park but is still home to many of its original attractions. 

The spring itself is a first magnitude spring and around 45ft deep. Diving and swimming are not currently allowed in the spring, but you can get a great view of it through the underwater viewing windows for the mermaid show.

Spring Wildlife

In the swimming areas outside of the main spring, there are many types of fish and turtles. Although usually shy, otters can be seen in the river. Because of the high amount of people in and around the spring, it’s possible but unlikely to see alligators. Manatees frequent the Weeki Wachee River, but are not often in the spring area.

Spring recreation

This park is great for outdoor recreation. For water-lovers, you can swim in the lagoon, shoot down the waterslides in Buccaneer Bay, or rent a kayak or paddleboard. If you prefer staying dry, you can take a riverboat tour, see the interpretive exhibit, eat at a restaurant or concession stand, and of course, see the mermaids in the  amphitheater. 


For more information, visit their official website here.

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Wekiwa SPring

The closest spring to the Orlando area and a great place to relax!

Spring Basics

Just a half-hour away from downtown Orlando, you can enjoy Wekiwa Spring State Park. This shallow, second magnitude spring is terrific for all the swimmers in the family. With just over a half-acre of the swimming area, this is an excellent place to spend the day relaxing or exploring. If you see “Wekiwa” and “Wekiva” as you research this spring, they’re referring to the same area! Read the story here.

Spring Wildlife

This area is home to a variety of animals on land and in the water. In the spring, you can find turtles, various types of fish, and downriver the occasional group of energetic otters. Also be on the lookout for raccoons, white-tailed deer, and black bears (typically seen in Spring). This park is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and a good place to see herons, egrets, limpkins, bald eagles, and other native birds.

Spring recreation

For water lovers, hop in the spring for a swim or go paddling down the Wekiva River to enjoy lunch and a drink at Wekiva Island. For more experienced paddlers, enjoy the various stops three to ten miles from the spring, along the Wekiva River or Rock Springs Run. Kayak and canoe rentals are available within the park. For dry activities, the state park offers many experiences, including camping, hiking, and horseback riding (state park does not have horse rentals). 


For more information, visit park website here.

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Rock Springs Run

Surrounded by two protected areas, this area abounds in beauty and wildlife!

Spring Basics

Obscured by a small cavern, the headwaters of Rock Springs Run boasts a second magnitude spring that flows downstream for many miles before joining the Wekiva River. Along with Blue Spring in Volusia County, the first section of this waterway is easily one of the clearest and most beautiful spring fed systems near the Orlando area and an extremely popular spot with the locals.

Spring Wildlife

This waterway is rich in wildlife. There are many different types of small fish, an abundance of turtles, and an occasional group of river otters playing and hunting in the stream. Various species of birds fly overhead and hunt in the shallows. In certain areas of the Wekiwa Springs State Park, it’s possible to see Florida Black Bear, Sherman’s fox squirrels, gopher tortoise, and wild turkey.

Spring recreation

Leave the fins at home and float on a natural lazy river! The spring area is well known by swimmers, snorkelers, and tubers for its crystal clear waters, open swimming areas, and energetic aquatic wildlife. But paddling fans can’t go wrong when accessing this run from King’s Landing and taking a multiple hour trip down to Wekiva Island or Wekiwa Springs State Park. You can also launch paddling watercraft from Camp Joy for a small fee. 

For hikers, multiple trails can be found in the woods and along the waterway. Campsites can be rented on the website. There is also a small environmental center on property  where you can learn more about the springs.


For more information, visit the Kelly Park website here.

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Kings of the Springs Inc is a 501(c)(3), 509(a)(2) non-profit. All or a portion of your donation may be tax-deductible. FEIN 84-2052491.
FDACS Registration #CH60186, Expiration Date: 9/26/2021

A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the division of consumer services by calling toll-free (800-435-7352) within the state.
Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state.

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