Explore the Great Outdoors in Orlando

K.C. Dermody

Written by Justin Mewse

June 2023

While Orlando is renowned for its theme parks and entertainment, it also offers ample opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Whether you’re seeking natural beauty, recreational activities, or a peaceful retreat, there are several options to enjoy. From the enchanting gardens and scenic lakes of Harry P. Leu Gardens and Lake Eola Park to the tranquil trails and wetlands of Wekiwa Springs State Park and Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, nature lovers can immerse themselves in Florida’s diverse ecosystems. Adventurous souls can embark on thrilling airboat rides Lake Tohopekaliga, witnessing the unique wildlife up close. Additionally, nearby coastal towns like Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach provide an easy escape to pristine sandy shores and the calming rhythm of the ocean. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll, a wildlife encounter, or a day spent under the Florida sun, exploring the outdoors in Orlando offers a delightful balance to the excitement of the city’s bustling attractions.

Wading in the ocean - Bermuda Tourism Authority

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park, located just north of Orlando, is a captivating natural oasis that offers a wealth of outdoor experiences. The park is centred around the crystal-clear Wekiwa Springs, where visitors can swim, snorkel, or simply relax on the sandy shore. Exploring the park’s extensive network of hiking trails is a treat for nature enthusiasts, with opportunities to witness the diverse wildlife and lush vegetation that thrives in the area. Canoeing and kayaking along the Wekiva River are popular activities, providing a chance to navigate through picturesque landscapes and encounter wildlife such as turtles, birds, and even manatees. For those seeking a tranquil escape, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers camping facilities, allowing visitors to spend the night surrounded by the serene beauty of the park.

Wekiwa Springs aerial view, Orlando

Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Tucked away in the western suburbs of Orlando, Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is a hidden gem for those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature. Spanning over 400 acres, the preserve showcases the natural beauty of Florida’s wetlands and oak hammocks. Visitors can explore the well-maintained trails that wind through the preserve, offering opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. The boardwalks and scenic overlooks provide stunning views of the diverse ecosystems, including marshes, swamps, and pristine lakes. With its serene ambiance and abundant flora and fauna, Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve offers a chance to escape the bustling city and immerse oneself in the tranquility of the outdoors.

Tibet-Butler Preserve, Orlando

Harry P. Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens, nestled in the heart of Orlando, is a botanical paradise that captivates visitors with its breathtaking beauty and serene ambiance. Spanning over 50 acres, the gardens showcase a diverse collection of plant species, including exotic flowers, towering palms, and fragrant roses. Strolling along the winding pathways, you’ll encounter charming themed gardens such as the Tropical Stream Garden, the Idea Garden, and the Butterfly Garden, each offering a unique sensory experience. The centrepiece of the gardens is the Leu House Museum, a historic home that provides a glimpse into the region’s rich history and the lives of the Leu family. With its peaceful atmosphere, picturesque landscapes, and well-manicured gardens, Harry P. Leu Gardens is a haven for nature enthusiasts, photographers, and those seeking a tranquil escape from the bustling city.

Harry P. Leu Gardens - Visit Orlando

Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park, situated in downtown Orlando, is a beloved urban oasis that offers a vibrant and scenic retreat for locals and visitors alike. The centrepiece of the park is the picturesque Lake Eola, surrounded by a paved walking path that provides breathtaking views of the tranquil water, colourful flower beds, and towering city skyline. The iconic swan-shaped paddleboats add a touch of whimsy to the park, allowing visitors to leisurely explore the lake’s perimeter. The park also hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year, including the popular Sunday farmers market, where visitors can indulge in local produce, food vendors, and unique artisan crafts.

Paddleboarding - Visit Orlando

Lake Tohopekaliga

Lake Tohopekaliga, also known as Lake Toho, is a magnificent freshwater lake located near Kissimmee, Florida. Spanning over 18,800 acres, it is renowned for its exceptional fishing opportunities and picturesque natural beauty. Anglers flock to Lake Toho to catch trophy-sized largemouth bass, making it a popular destination for fishing tournaments. The lake is surrounded by lush vegetation, providing a scenic backdrop for boating, kayaking, and canoeing adventures. Nature enthusiasts can explore the lake’s diverse ecosystem, which is home to various bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and herons.

Alligator, Lake Tohopekaliga

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach, located on Florida’s Space Coast, is a vibrant coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and world-class surfing conditions. With its pristine sandy shores and warm Atlantic waters, it’s a haven for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Surfers can catch impressive waves at the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, while sunbathers can relax and soak up the sun. The beachfront is lined with surf shops, restaurants, and beach bars, creating a lively and inviting atmosphere. Cocoa Beach is also home to the world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop, a must-visit destination for surfers and beachgoers alike. Beyond the beach, visitors can explore the rich history of space exploration at the nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex or indulge in fresh seafood at the waterfront restaurants.

Cocoa Beach pier, Florida

Discover some great holiday options in Orlando with these recommended family-focused trips

7-Night February Half-Term in Orlando

Tailor-Made Family Holiday
Spend a week in Orlando for February Half Term!

Why we love this holiday…
Enjoy the flexibility to explore as you please
Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is right in the middle of all the action
You’ll be staying just 10 minutes from Universal Orlando® Resort and 20 minutes from Walt Disney World® Resort
Delight in Orlando’s award-winning food scene
Watch some hard-hitting sports
Go wild on a kayak adventure on Lake Apopka or at Winter Park
Explore Harry P Leu Gardens

** £142 Donated to Charity for FREE **

From £715pp
Price includes 7 nights room only stay at 3-star Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, 7 days fully inclusive car hire, return direct flights from London Heathrow to Orlando and ATOL protection

Learn More

Speak with an Expert

7-Night Floridian Family Adventure

Independent Twin-Centre
Spend 4 nights in Orlando and 3 nights in Crystal River on this family twin centre!

Why we love this holiday…
Enjoy the flexibility to explore as you please
Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando is right in the middle of all the action
Plantation on Crystal River is close to so many outdoor experiences
Visit Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Spend time at Hunter Spring Park
Opt for horseback riding or swim up-close with manatees
Have a relaxing spa day

** £195 Donated to Charity for FREE **

From £979pp
Price includes 4 nights room only stay at 3-star Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando, 3 nights room only stay at 3-star Plantation on Crystal River, 7 days fully inclusive hire of Volkswagen Jetta or similar, return direct flights from Manchester to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic and ATOL protection

Learn More

Speak with an Expert

14-Night Summer 2024 Family Holiday in Orlando

Family Apart-Hotel Holiday
Enjoy a fortnight’s holiday to fully experience the marvels of Orlando while staying in a 4-star resort apartment.

Why we love this holiday…
Enjoy the flexibility to explore as you please
Stay at the 4-star Blue Tree Resort at Lake Buena Vista
Enjoy boating, fishing or a stroll along the lakeside of Lake Tohopekaliga
Take an airboat ride through the nearby wetlands of Everglades National Park
Play a round of golf and one of Orlando’s many courses
Take in Orlando’s eclectic nightlife

** £242 Donated to Charity for FREE **

From £1,210pp
Price includes 14 nights stay in an apartment at the 4* Blue Tree Resort at Lake Buena Vista, 15 days fully inclusive hire of SUV car, free Ocean Explorer tickets, return direct flights from Manchester to Orlando with Aer Lingus and ATOL protection

Learn More

Speak with an Expert

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