We have sunshine all year round here, and Jenna Lyons lists seven outdoor places every Orlando newcomer should check out.
Lake Eola Park 512 E. Washington St. It always tops the list. C'mon, the lake's fountain is on Orlando's city flag. There's always something going on there, from activist demonstrations to concerts to a farmers market every Sunday. You can even rent one of the signature swan boats to pedal around and maybe even spot Queenie, the only black-necked lady swan of the lake, who is, in fact, queen of the city.
Wekiva Island 1014 Miami Springs Drive, Longwood, wekivaisland.com A favorite all-inclusive recreation spot. Canoe. Paddleboard. Kayak. They have a bar. They have an annual art festival and gallery. They even make it snow in December along the Wekiva River. (Fake snow, but still fun.)
Rock Springs 400 E. Kelly Park Road, Apopka Some locals call it Kelly Park. It's a natural spring that's not too hot and not too cold, and a popular tubing spot, if you don't mind driving over to Apopka. You can buy a tube, but it's also BYOT. Added feature: a canoe trail connects this park with the very popular Wekiva Springs State Park.
Wekiwa Springs State Park 1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka Always, always, always busy here on summer weekends. If you aren't leaving the house by 6 a.m., forget about it. Everything from canoeing and kayaking to bicycling and birdwatching is available here. Have a picnic or go for a swim. Whatever you do, just get there early. (It's worth it.)
Leu Gardens 1920 N. Forest Ave., leugardens.org This place has 50 acres and 15,000 flowers on display. You can check out beautiful flora, citrus, bamboo gardens and native Florida plants like the resurrection fern (yes, that's the actual name). This "botanical oasis" is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The historical house on site is unfortunately still closed due to Hurricane Irma repairs.
West Orange Bike Trail 501 Crown Point Cross, Winter Garden Like bikes? Ride on about 21 miles of paved trail, courtesy of Orange County. You'll cruise through Killarney, Oakland, Winter Garden and downtown Apopka. I recommend going on a Saturday and making a pit stop at the Winter Garden farmers market. If you're all about that lepidoptera, hit up the butterfly garden at the Tildenville outpost. (Check out the route at orangecountyfl.net if you wanna dip in and out.)
Crane's Roost Park 274 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs, altamonte.org This 45-acre park is right around the mall, so if you're not too outdoorsy you can seek shelter inside the Macy's. There's a walking path around a lake, and just like Lake Eola, there's an amphitheater and events constantly going on. It's known to put on an annual celebration every Fourth of July. You can even fish from the lake's north and southeast shorelines, as long as you have a license.
- Photo via Adobe Stock
- Wekiwa Springs State Park
This story is from the Aug. 8, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly's Newcomers Guide 2019. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.