With good weather all year round and lots of sunshine too, Orlando is a great city for getting outdoors. Though it may seem on first glance like a sprawling city, locals will tell you how many green spaces and parks there are in Orlando. Outdoor activities here range from biking along urban trails to hitting the beach and strolling through serene botanical gardens. Read on to find out how to get outdoors in Orlando.
Bike the Orlando Urban Trail
Of the 40 miles of off-street bike trails in Orlando, the Orlando Urban Trail is the most central and popular. It winds over three miles of downtown Orlando from Lake Highland to Winter Park, passing through other green spaces like Loch Haven Park. The trail is paved and flat, making it accessible for most cyclists.
Go Tubing in Kelly Park
Kelly Park is one of Orlando’s most popular green spaces, located about 30 minutes north of downtown. There are lots of outdoor activities here, but the most popular include soaking in the natural Rock Springs and going tubing down the riverside. The relaxing float takes about half an hour and there are vendors selling inner tubes outside Kelly Park.
Go ‘Gator-Spotting on Lake Jesup
Lake Jesup, located in Seminole County – about 25 miles northeast of downtown Orlando – is famously home to more alligators than anywhere else in Florida. The Black Hammock offers airboat rides where you zip around the lake at high speeds. Afterwards, there is a restaurant and bar with lake views to enjoy.
Go Standup Paddleboarding in Winter Park
Standup paddleboarding is a popular outdoor sport in Orlando’s many waterways. The folks at Paddleboard Orlando offer various paddleboarding tours ranging from a canal tour through historic Winter Park to a manatee-spotting river paddle through Silver Springs State Park.
Play Footgolf at Walt Disney World®
For an alternative golf experience that comes with an Orlando theme-park twist, try your hand – well, more your foot – at footgolf. It’s pretty much as it sounds – a round of golf played with a soccer ball. Disney’s Oak Trail footgolf course is a nine-hole course that takes about an hour and a half to complete.
Hike the Cross-Seminole Trail
The Cross-Seminole Trail is a locals’ favorite hiking trail. And while Orlando isn’t necessarily known as a hiking destination, Seminole County, just north of the city, is an outdoor haven. There are five trailheads along the 23-mile walking and biking path, and along the way you will pass through suburban parkland and into lush forests.
Surf the Waves at Cocoa Beach
There are plenty of places for surfing near Orlando, but the most famous is undoubtedly Cocoa Beach. In addition to being the home beach of world champion surfer Kelly Slater, it also houses the world’s largest surf shop, the Ron Jon Surf Shop.
Pick Oranges at a Citrus Farm
There’s nothing more quintessentially Floridian than oranges. For a nice alternative outdoor activity, visit Showcase of Citrus, a working citrus estate owned by a third-generation farmer. You could spend a whole day here, picking your own fruit, feeding the farm animals, and shopping in the farm store. There are also kids’ activities including a gem mine.
Hike in Wekiwa Springs State Park
Located northwest of downtown, Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of the best places near Orlando to go hiking. There are miles of unpaved hiking trails throughout the park, which is sliced in two by the emerald-green Wekiwa River. Paths range from short strolls less than a mile long to day hikes over 13.5 miles, over diverse terrane that includes wetland boardwalks and deer-filled forests.
Admire the Botanical Wonders in Leu Gardens
In the middle of Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District, Leu Gardens is a 50-acre botanical garden teeming with seasonal flowers, creeping vines and Florida’s largest rose garden. There’s also a tropical rainforest and a butterfly garden.
Go Geocaching at UCF Arboretum
The University of Central Florida’s Arboretum is an 82-acre wild green space right in the middle of the campus in northeast Orlando. There are walking and nature-exploration trails that showcase the natural resources present in this part of Florida. One fun activity at the UCF Arboretum is geocaching, a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS coordinates to locate caches. Geocaching gives you the chance to really explore the arboretum’s ecosystem, which includes ponds, hammocks, sand scrub, and pine forest.