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Orlando is a world-class destination year round for it’s bright, warm weather, massive theme parks, awesome food, and long, fun nights. However, there is so much to do that doesn’t require you to break the bank or feel like a tourist. The natural landscape, full of parks, lakes, mountains, and trails provide a long list of fun, active, and memorable places to check out and explore with friends and family. Here are 9 awesome suggestions for you to make the most out of the great outdoors here in Orlando. Read this list and start planning today; after you visit a few of these, don’t be surprised if you consider buying a home in Orlando!
Planning a trip to Orlando? Check out my other Florida posts!
Fun things to do in Orlando besides theme parks
Nothing quite captures the essence of the outdoors like seeing birds soaring in the sky and hearing their calls in the distance from all sides. It’s one of those experiences that instantly brings you in touch with nature. While you’re likely to see birds anywhere that you can find trees, you can get close to some of the most spectacular and rare species at the Audubon Center. The Bald Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Eastern Screech-Owl, and Peregrine Falcon are just a small handful of the amazing species you can learn about here while also finding out ways to help protect the endangered species by getting involved with your community.
Bill Frederick Park is a massive outdoor haven featuring183 acres of land. This includes Turkey Lake, one of the most renown locations in Florida for fishing. Aside from fishing, Bill Frederick Park is popular for its campgrounds and recreational activities like disc golf, seasonal events like 5k runs, and of course, the beautiful landscape and lake views.
Are you good at keeping secrets? Well, after making your way to Kelly Park, you’ll see why I asked. This stunning locale is massive and has a bit of everything – lush greenery, flowing water, camping space for tents or RVs, BBQ pits, and playgrounds for little ones. It’s about 40 minutes from bigger tourist attractions like theme parks, so it’s great to keep in mind for Summer when you want to avoid the major crowds. But here’s the real secret: even in the Winter months, this area and the water are warm! Make sure to bring your inflatable tubes, or rent some while you’re here and float along.
Here’s a place that keeps locals and visitors alike coming back for more adventures. From paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, to cabanas, you’re never far from paradise at Wekiva Island, just north of Orlando. They host a wide variety of events year-round like special cheese and charcuterie tastings, river otter watching, live music, volleyball, and so much more, with an extensive beer and wine list as well to add to the fun. Check out their event calendar and you’re sure to find something perfect for your tastes.
I love horseback riding, it’s such a timeless, serene hobby. If you enjoy it or want to try it out for your first time, look no further than Hidden Palms Ranch, a private, family-owned property featuring seven gorgeous horses that would love to be your new friends. Not only are the owners and the horses’ great company, but this farmland is 5 minutes from the Orland-Sanford International Airport, 30 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, and 40 minutes from the beach. Just another perk of Orlando, so many fun things to do and they’re all so close to each other!
You might want to kick things up a notch and take full advantage of Central Florida Outdoors. Archery, clay shooting, ATVs, and mudding – the high-octane stuff. Revolution Off-road is your spot for all of this and more. If you haven’t heard of the Mucky Duck, that’s the first thing you should try out at Revolution. It’s an amphibious vehicle made to cruise on land and shallow waters, you’ll wish you could take one of these home. In addition to all of this, you can make reservations for private events and also fish here.
Deleon Springs holds remarkable history spanning far before the state of Florida’s foundation. Originally known as “Healing Waters” by the Timucuan Indians, these springs are popular for swimming, fishing, snorkelling, and scuba diving. You can also hike the trails in this subtropical forest region full of trees with roots deep in the past and rich, natural history of their own. Book a boat tour and spend time at the visitor’s centre to learn about the 6,000 years worth of humanity that has centralized around these springs.
The warm nights in Florida lend themselves perfectly to evening outdoor activities, like movies at the park. Great for group outings or for intimate dates, you have a few different choices for where to catch the viewings: Lake Nona’s Crescent Cinema offers a free viewing one Friday each quarter of the year, A La Cart Orlando shows a wide range of films every Monday night at 7 pm for free, Old Town Kissimmee hosts classic and modern screenings every Sunday night at 7 pm for free, and you can enjoy the drive-in experience at Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre any night of the week, with the awesome deal of $5 per person for a double-feature. You can enjoy your favourite movies in more special ways than ever before with these options. Some of the locations have food trucks but it’s always wise to bring your own snacks and refreshments (no alcohol at the drive-in!)
Although this arboretum is located on UCF property, it’s available to the public and certainly worth exploring. Since its foundation in 1983, its boundaries have expanded almost 7 times wide from 12 acres to 82 acres currently. You can find rare plant and animal species here, learn about the local nature, take part in volunteering projects, and leave with a deeper appreciation for the ecosystem and nature itself.
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