For nine months out of the year, the Orlando region is the perfect place for outdoor activities – once summer’s humidity lifts, it’s sunny, the temps are comfortable and people come out of their summer hibernation. So it makes sense that we have a robust sporting scene. From spectator sports (see breakout box) to biking, hiking, kayaking and ziplines, there’s plenty to keep outdoor enthusiasts busy all year long.
Biking and hiking
Cady Way Trail
Entrance is 1/4 mile north of State Route 50 on Herndon Avenue
This 6.5-mile paved path, popular with bicyclists and stroller-pushing moms alike, connects Orlando and Winter Park and the Cross Seminole Trail in Seminole County. The trail features water fountains, rest stops and mile markers, as well as a cool suspension bridge that crosses Semoran Boulevard.
Dean Road, just north of State Road 50
This trail in East Orlando begins at Jay Blanchard Park and extends to Alafaya Trail. It runs alongside the Little Econlockhatchee River, which offers pretty views and plenty of good spots to fish, canoe or just sit in the grass by the river.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka
You can canoe or kayak here (rentals are available), but this park also has 13 miles of pristine, wooded hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails. This park is very popular, particularly in summer when visitors like to swim in the clear blue spring, and when the parking lot fills, the park entrance closes. So get there early.
Rock Springs Run State Reserve
30601 County Road 433, Sorrento
The park, located about 10 miles west of I-4 on County Road 433, is really just a giant swatch of underdeveloped land. It features 17 miles of multi-use trails.
West Orange Trail
501 Crown Point Cross Road, Winter Garden
This 22-mile trail – the county’s longest – stretches through Winter Garden, Apopka and Orlando. It’s open to walkers and bikers, and some parts are open to horses, too. Four trailheads with parking are located at various points along the trail.
1844 E. Winter Park Road
This bike shop rallies cycle enthusiasts from all around and carries cool gear for those on the go, too. The new location, next to Stardust Video and Coffee, is sleek and stylish and industrial.
Kyle’s Bike Shop
203 N. Primrose Drive
Bicycle sales and service, including repairs and custom wheels. Kyle’s also has a parts junkyard. If something’s broken on your bike, they might be able to save you some money on the repair by using a part from the junkyard rather than ordering new.
Loco Motion Bikes
1776 Jake St.
In addition to sales and demos, this bike shop also offers rentals, a service that’s particularly appealing because of its Baldwin Park location, just a leisurely ride away from a paved bike path that winds around Lake Baldwin.
Mr. Bikes n Boards
952 W. State Road 434, Longwood
This full-service bike shop repairs old bikes and sells new ones. It’s also a skate shop, so you can get your gear and decks here, too.
2204 Edgewater Drive
The area’s largest bike store. It not only carries cycles, clothing and gear – it’s also a hub for the cycling community. This shop holds bicycling events and repair clinics, and its website is full of useful information about local bike paths and trails.
1809 S. Orange Ave.
Commuters, tricycles, mountain bikes, fixies and even unicycles – this family-owned south Orlando bike shop is friendly, full service and caters to cyclers of all ages and interests.
Retro City Cycles and Greenway Bicycles
1806 N. Orange Ave.
The owners of Retro City Cycles don’t just run a bike shop – they sort of run a cycling community. They’re members of various biking organizations – they helped found women’s mountain biking club the Dirty Divas – and they select the bikes they sell in store with the help of customer feedback.
Canoeing and kayaking
Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail
This 1,515-mile long paddling route along the coastline of Florida would take you months to complete. Lucky for you, it is divided into 26 segments, so you can take all the time you need. The nearest chunk to Orlando is the Space Coast segment, which is only 81 miles long.
Blue Spring State Park
2100 W. French Ave., Orange City
Covering more that 2,600 acres, Blue Spring State Park is a designated Manatee Refuge. It is an excellent place for a swim, paddling or a picnic. During manatee season, mid-November through March, the waterways are closed – you can look at the dozens of manatees that winter here, but you won’t be allowed in the water.
An absolute jewel hidden at the eastern edge of the Orlando sprawl, the Econ can be easy or difficult, depending on the water levels (high in the summer, low in the spring). Paddlers will be able to catch a glimpse of a diverse array of wildlife from sandhill cranes to bald eagles to bears along the 19-mile stretch.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
This refuge offers somewhat limited paddling opportunities since paddling is not permitted in refuge impoundments, but what is available to paddlers can be spectacular. You might see manatees, scrub jays or an alligator if you’re lucky.
Rock Springs Run-Wekiva River
Put in at King’s Landing near Apopka if you want to experience the entirety of this 27-mile respite from congestion and travel a designated wild and scenic river right in the heart of the Orlando metro area. Stop at Wekiwa Springs State Park on your way for a swim in the clear, blue springs.
There are so many routes you could take paddling the 1,000 Islands and probably still not see everything. This site is found on the Banana River in Cocoa Beach. Paddlers often find themselves a bit geographically challenged when they are visiting here, so bring a compass with you.
If you can’t afford to travel to Puerto Rico’s famous bioluminescent bay, Florida’s Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon come alive with bioluminescence from May through September. The luminescence is caused by dinoflagellates (tiny things you can’t see), which glow neon-blue whenever the water is disturbed. Guides are recommended for this paddling adventure, but they are not necessary. Paddlers should begin their paddle at dusk.
1805 Deen Still Road, Davenport
No mountains, no problem. An airplane will tow you and an instructor into a glide for $175; if you’re a more serious hang glider, you can book up to seven days to hone your skills and network with other gliders, including owner Malcolm Jones, who invented the tandem flying concept.
6548 Groveland Airport Road, Groveland
Like Wallaby, Quest Air features a $149 tandem flight at 2,500 feet, but it also offers a 5,000-foot flight for $249. That lasts about 30 minutes, but luckily, the roar of the wind will kill the awkward silence.
Hot air balloons
Orlando Balloon Rides
2900 Parkway Blvd, Kissimmee
One-hour long flights departing from the Disney area end with a champagne toast and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration.
Maingate Lakeside Resort
7769 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
Takes off from Kissimmee at sunrise with post-landing champagne and breakfast, Thompson is slightly pricier ($185 for adults) than its competition, but it offers a discounted rate of $105 for youth ages 10-15.
7190 Rose Ave.
Eight indoor and outdoor fields, six extreme courses, advanced equipment and virtual-reality style play make for an outstanding faux-combat experience. On the same property as Orlando Paintball.
Battlefield Live Orlando
3755 NW Highway 17-92, Sanford
Set out on an outdoor laser tag mission at the Central Florida Zoo. Pay $20 for an hour of play, which typically includes five 10-minute-long games.
5707 Dot Com Court, Oviedo
Urban-themed adventures allow players to defuse bombs, rescue hostages and, well, shoot each other up. Combat time is $22 for 30 minutes, but all-day gaming packages are also available.
7215 Rose Ave.
Eight indoor and outdoor fields mean you can play paintball here even during a torrential summer downpour. Admission is $10.95; equipment rental packages, which include all-day admission, start at $30.95.
Paintball World Sports Complex
4801 W. Colonial Drive (at the Central Florida Fairgrounds)
Five fields to play on, with junior paintball leagues, paintball parties and holiday specials available. Admission is $15.95; rental packages start at $16.95.
Xtreme Paintball Xperience
1300 S. Poinciana Blvd., Kissimmee
This facility calls itself a “theme park for paintball” and boasts the largest playing fields in Central Florida, offering woods, themed fields and more. Admission is $10 per individual player and rental packages start at $15.
City of Longwood Skate Park
599 Longdale Ave., Longwood
Skateboarding, BMX biking and inline skating are all welcome at this park, which is located in the city of Longwood’s Candyland Park.
Orlando Skate Park
400 Festival Way
This outdoor concrete park is located near Fashion Square Mall. Now that Vans Skate Park is closed, it’s the only major skate park left in Orlando city limits.
1600 Flightline Blvd., DeLand
DeLand is the skydiving training capital of the world, and this full-service facility caters to both the quivering newbie and the grizzled veteran. There’s also a bar where both can pound beers after landing.
Skydive Space Center
476 N. Williams Drive, Titusville
Do a tandem jump from 18,000 feet – one of the highest dives in the world – over the Space Coast. You can also enroll in “accelerated freefall training” to hone your mid-air acrobatics.
Orlando Watersports Complex
8615 Florida Rock Road
No need for a boat here – a motorized suspended cable system pulls you on your board (or skis) through the water and, if you dare, onto ramps and other obstacles. Check the website for the variety of lessons and camps available.
Bikram Yoga Orlando
3218-B E. Colonial Drive
Invigorating 90-minute Hot Yoga classes are this studio’s forte. The first class is $10 and the second class (within 7 days of first) is free.
College Park Yoga
3029 Edgewater Drive
This studio teaches ashtanga, vinyasa and power yoga classes, but also offers a yoga-for-wimps beginner class. For those on a tight budget, “community yoga” is offered every Saturday at 9 a.m. for $5. All other single classes are $15.
Full Circle Yoga
972B Orange Ave., Winter Park
This busy studio offers classes seven days a week, and drop-in classes are $15 each. Full Circle has spacious studios and variations on traditional yoga styles, including hot yoga, flow yoga, ashtanga, pre- and post-natal yoga, and a mom-and-baby class for expecting and new mothers.
Harmony Yoga Studio
110 N. Orlando Ave, Suite 2, Maitland
This studio offers something for everyone: Gentle yoga for beginners, prenatal yoga for expecting mothers, yoga for fitness and a sampling of specialty classes, including laughter yoga and mysore yoga. Beginner rates start at 20 days of unlimited classes for $20.
Orlando Power Yoga
2415 E. South St.
The Baron Baptiste-style of power yoga takes the spotlight at this yoga sanctuary. Don’t be surprised if the air conditioning’s not on; to raise students’ internal heat, this studio stays ablaze at 85-90 degrees. Single class rates are $15, and Saturdays see the discount day yoga for only $10.
Shine on Yoga
619 N. Thornton Ave.
This yoga studio believes yoga should be affordable and accessible to all – based on that philosophy, all classes are now donation-based, pay-what-you-can. Cash only.
1121 N. Mills Ave.
Instructor Rob Hefele offers donation-based drop-in classes at the Orange Studio on Mills Avenue on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. Classes are challenging but suitable for students at all levels. Beginners are welcome.
Florida Eco Safari’s Zipline Safari
4755 N. Kenansville Road, St. Cloud
Take two and a half hours to glide 55 feet above the forested wetlands and pine flatwoods bordering St. Cloud. Keep an eye out for alligators, bears and deer; if you want a shot at seeing the nocturnal Florida panther, try a “moonlight safari.”
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
3755 N.W. Highway 17-92, Sanford
Channel your inner Tarzan on a combination of zip lines and obstacle courses in the canopy of the forest overlooking the Central Florida Zoo. There are two courses for adults and two for kids; prices range from $18.25-$28.25.
4509 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Kissimmee
More than 4,500 feet of ziplines take you through the treetops and across three suspension bridges at this spot not far from the theme parks. They even offer sunset rides, moonlight tours and for those who like to keep their feet on the ground, guided ATV expeditions. Starting at $95 for a two-hour adventure.
Not everybody likes to play the games – some people just like to watch, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s a listing of some of the city’s home teams.
National Basketball Association
400 W. Church St.
Tickets: starting at $10
Arena Football League
12777 N. Gemini Blvd.
Orlando Solar Bears
East Coast Hockey League
400 W. Church St.
Tickets: starting at $15
United Soccer Leagues
Playing February through September
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
700 S. Victory Way, Kissimmee
Tickets: starting at $19
Major League Baseball Spring Training
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
700 S. Victory Way, Kissimmee
Tickets: starting at $12
Collegiate Wood Bat Baseball League
Six teams in Central Florida
NCAA College Football
Bright House Networks Stadium
University of Central Florida
Tickets: season tickets starting at $99