Orlando’s Outdoor Adventures: Beautiful Exploration
Why not take a day off from the parks, relax in the amazing Florida weather, and enjoy your favorite outdoor activity? Orlando is sunny just about year-round, and it’s easy to take advantage of the warm temperatures and make your escape to the great Central Florida outdoors. Whether you’d like to try golfing, boating, or fishing, take a look at this list of favorite recreational activities to help you plan an Orlando excursion.
Hiking and Exploration
You may be surprised to find that Orlando is a popular place to find hiking trails, sprawling state parks, gardens and even wilderness preserves.
- Big Tree Park got its name because it’s home to giant cypress trees like the 2,000-year-old Lady Liberty. It’s a top choice for Orlando hikes, and you can hit the trails in the easy-to-explore 1,500-acre Spring Hammock Preserve.
- Bear Creek Nature Trail is a great choice for new hikers as it follows the creek side in an easy loop.
- The Citrus Hiking Loop is one of the state’s longest backpacking loops with more than 40 miles of trails and even though most of Florida is flat, this trail features rolling hills!
- The Wekiwa Springs State Park covers more than 7,000 acres and features a 13.5-mile hiking loop for those into a longer venture, but it also has smaller trails for shorter walks.
- The Cady Way hiking trail is an urban hiking adventure that runs from the Fashion Square Mall area in Orlando to Cady Way Park in the community of Winter Park. Along the trail, you can catch a glimpse of the Orlando Naval Training Center, a golf course, and a memorial garden.
If you’re in Orlando but think it’s much too far inland to enjoy time spent on the water, don’t worry, you’re still good to go! Here’s a rundown of boat-related activities near Orlando, from Everglades tours to cruises to watercraft rentals.
Alligators, snakes, and other wild water creatures make their home in this “river of grass” that is the Everglades National Park. Though most people think of South Florida for Everglades adventure, the natural preserve originates in the lakes and wetlands around Orlando. Take an airboat ride across the swamps as your boat pilot takes you through the cypress and reed thickets and you sit back in safety to take in the view.
- The original Orlando-area airboat service, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides embarks on guided tours from two Kissimmee locations. Tour selections range from 30 to 60 minutes in length, in crafts that seat either six or 17 passengers. Some selections require reservations but others are walk-up. One 60-minute ride requiring a reservation tours the wetlands after sunset, the best time to spy stealthy alligators.
- Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Tours explores the area in longer tours, up to 2 hours. The crafts all seat six and each passenger is provided a headset to better hear the pilot’s narration, and even ask questions, over the massive propeller’s roar.
- Orlando Airboat Tours also offers a large selection of narrated, 60- to 120-minute tours. Some, however, including an Extreme Sunset/Twilight ride, are available only November through February. The tours all take place aboard the more intimate, six-passenger crafts.
- The parasailing adventure at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre is an exciting way to take yourself to new heights – 450 feet to be exact. After a safety briefing, you and a partner will be fitted with life jackets and a tandem harness for an 8-to-10 minute ride high above Walt Disney World®. The views are incredible, so be sure to bring your camera and capture some high-flying memories.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour
- There’s no more memorable experience at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala than a glass bottom boat tour. This mesmerizing tour slowly glides through water that is 99.8% pure, and clear as day, all the way to the depths where 70 million-year-old fossils lie quietly. Glass bottom boat passengers get to visit all seven spring formations at the headwaters, and can gaze down upon alligators, crawfish, shrimp, dozens of fish varieties, turtles and clams. These boats have seating for everyone, and an overhead enclosure to protect from the sun. The 90-minute tours depart daily, every half hour to 45 minutes.
Whether you prefer dock fishing, lakeside fishing or boat fishing, and whether you fish for the fry or for the sport, Orlando has plenty to lure you in.
- Lake Tohopekaliga, affectionately known as Lake Toho, is minutes from Orlando and offers some of the best bass fishing The bass can grow to pretty big size here, so you’ll want to consider hiring a bass fishing guide to help you catch the best.
- Lake Kissimmee is one of many lakes along the Kissimmee chain of lakes, and the vegetation shelter makes it great for not only bass, but also crappie.
- For deep sea fishing, a charter boat is recommended. Mahi-mahi, marlin, swordfish and kingfish are just a few of the fish you’ll catch on a deep-sea tour.
Florida is a golfer’s dream state, and Orlando’s courses sit right at the heart of it. Here are some of the better places to call “Fore” in the Orlando area.
- The Modern Nine and Classic Nine converge to form an 18-hole championship golf course at North Shore Golf Club. Florida’s native wetlands and oak trees are on display while you swing for a hole in one.
- Disney World itself offers four golf courses: three exquisite 18-hole championship courses and a nine-hole gem that’s ideal for family fun. Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course is the longest, and a test for the most serious of golfers. Disney’s Palm Golf Course has been freshly renovated and updated by Arnold Palmer Golf Course Design. Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Golf Course has hosted popular events on the PGA and LPGA tours. Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course is a par-36 walking course with three sets of tees perfect for family members of all ability levels.
- For those that want a virtual golf experience instead, the golf simulator at Dewey’s Sports Simulators will help you finesse your short game. You can even have your drive analyzed. Feedback is given so you can adjust your swing on the spot.
The Fountains: Your Adventure Home Base
Whatever outdoor excursion you have planned, The Fountains should be your relaxing home base between adventures. Plan your outdoor trip today!
Sunrise on the Boardwalk by Arturo Donate CC-BY-2.0