The Best National Parks and Gardens in Orlando
Orlando has many beautiful national parks and stunning gardens, thanks to the low-lying land, plenty of sun and summer showers. Of course, the world-famous swampland of The Everglades is a renowned area of natural beauty, but there’s a wealth of parks and gardens right across Florida for lovers of the great outdoors to enjoy. If you’ve had enough theme park action, any of the places listed below will offer an excellent alternative. We’ve got quite a broad range of natural attractions in this list, including a selection of smaller gardens located in downtown Orlando – perfect for an afternoon stroll or a family picnic. From there, it stretches all the way up to several larger national parks for those of you who want to get an authentic glimpse at Orlando’s fantastic flora, fauna and natural topography. Let’s find out the best Parks in Orlando with Lifezfood!
Canaveral National Seashore is a sanctuary for wildlife and humans alike. It’s home to many endangered species, including the sea turtles who come to the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. Like many seaside cities, the area is fitting for those who enjoy outdoor activities. You’ll find horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, swimming, fishing, and boating. If you enjoy hiking, there’s a trail near the Visitor’s Center.
Blue Spring State Park
Just north of Orlando is this popular natural spring, famous for the manatees that flock here each winter. These gentle giants congregate in large numbers from November to March because of spring’s stable temperature. Don’t miss the Manatee Festival in January. The aptly named clear blue waters on premise make it an excellent park for swimming, snorkeling, diving and canoeing.
As the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline on Florida’s East coast, this National Park is worth a visit. This barrier island is home to protected wildlife, such as the sea turtles that nest here annually. Camp primitively here and wake up to the sounds of the ocean, or hike the many trails that weave through the coastal hammock and pine flat-woods. Keep an eye out for fragments of native pottery, remnants from the first inhabitants of this coastline dating as far back as 2000 BC.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is a campground nestled between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks. Almost 2,000 different camping sites are available, ranging from individual tent sites to full RV parking spots. The camping sites are a combination of paved driveways and sandy paths. Each site has running water, electricity, outdoor grills and picnic tables. Private showers and laundry facilities are located near all sites. Fort Wilderness Resort also has 409 air-conditioned cabins that can sleep up to 6 people. These cabins include full bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and bunk beds.
The Everglades is a region of subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of Florida. Beginning at Lake Okeechobee, near Walt Disney World, the Everglades become more prominent about 3 to 4 hours south of Downtown Orlando. Here, the environment is ever-changing and mostly untouched. Swamps and mangroves are inhabited by various types of snakes and alligators, and birds of various species make this sub-tropical wilderness their home.
Harry P. Leu Gardens Orlando
The Harry P. Leu Gardens are known for their extensive collections of aroids, azaleas, bamboo, bananas, citrus, ferns, hibiscus, and roses. The gardens are divided into 15 themed sections, including a Butterfly Garden, Citrus Grove, Tropical Stream Garden, and Floral Clock. You can also find over 240 varieties of camellias, as well as 200-year-old oak trees throughout the property.
There are regularly scheduled events at the Harry P. Leu Gardens, with movie nights, live jazz, and kids’ storytime being among the most popular. Guests are permitted to bring small picnics to eat on the patio of the Garden House Welcome Center. You can pick up a map at the Garden House Welcome Center. Personal photography is permitted.
Wekiva Springs State Park
Just 20 minutes north of Orlando, Wekiva Springs State Park is where the locals go. The natural spring, at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, is the main attraction for swimming and cooling off. The 7,000 acres of park also offer plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, camp and even horseback ride. Canoe down to Wekiva Island, a privately owned recreation area, and grab a locally brewed beer at The Tooting Otter bar.