Central Florida has long attracted visitors and residents looking to enjoy its lush subtropical landscapes, mystical springs, and inviting green spaces. Explore them with your sweetheart while connecting out in nature. To help you plan, we’ve compiled a complete list of the best Central Florida and Orlando parks.
Plus, we’ve included a few locations that are worth a day trip, and our picks for parks when you have little ones in tow.
Remember, as you set out to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty, do your part to ensure your visit does not have a negative impact on the land. Stay on marked trails, pick up after yourself and reduce waste. Look for sunscreen and other products that do not have chemicals that can harm Florida’s aquatic ecosystem. As they say, take only photos and leave only footprints.
Cypress Grove Park – Orlando
4801 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando
Bask in the beauty of cypress trees, an estate built in 1925, and stroll along the lakeside. The estate and charming garden pavilion area make this a popular spot for celebrating a special occasion.
Shadow Bay Park – Orlando
5100 Turkey Lake Rd, Orlando
There’s lots of recreation at this 111-acre park. Trails, playgrounds, fishing, and a 17-court tennis center with pro shop. This park is popular with Orlando residents, couples, and families.
Blue Jacket Park – Orlando
2501 General Rees Avenue, Orlando
Home of a former Naval base, Blue Jacket Park is a 75-acre loving tribute to this legacy. The white stone arch bridge makes for a scenic setting. There are pavilions and grills great for gatherings and celebrations. You’ll be just 10 minutes from East End Market…may we suggest stopping by to pick up some provisions for a picnic?
Lake Eola Park – Downtown Orlando
512 E Washington St, Orlando
Orlando’s landmark park is not to be missed. Rent a swan paddle boat, or stroll the beautiful walkway that wraps around all of Lake Eola. Enjoy live music and other events year round. And, of course, take in the incredible vistas of Downtown Orlando’s skyline enveloping the park.
Lake Eola Swan Boats
Dickson Azalea Park – Orlando
100 Rosearden Drive, Orlando
Central Florida is home to multiple azalea parks, which are a must-visit during azalea season (late February to mid-March). Dickson Azalea Park is beautiful year round. This park has been part of Orlando’s history since the city’s birth in 1924.
The Washington Street Bridge built in 1926 is a definite highlight. Grab something to go from one of the many wonderful eateries in Mills 50 or The MIlk District and bring it to this park for a lovely lunch outdoors.
Central Park – Winter Park
150 W Morse Blvd, Winter Park
Similar to Lake Eola, this park is surrounded by a city, but in this case the city of Winter Park and its landmark Park Avenue. This park has been the gathering place of Winter Park residents and visitors since the late 1800s. You’ll find events here throughout the week, and annual events include the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and charming holiday events.
Note – the park is under construction, but there is still plenty to enjoy.
READ MORE: Winter Park Farmers’ Market – Know Before You Go
Lake Lily Park – Maitland
701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland
Here you’ll be able to walk hand in hand with your honey along Florida’s oldest brick road. Progressive date idea: Start with drinks and appetizers at Luke’s Kitchen. Walk across the street to Antonnio’s Italian Restaurant for entrees and dessert. Then take an evening stroll around Lake Lily Park.
If you have kids along with you there is a great fenced-in playground here. Keep reading for more Orlando parks that are kid-friendly.
Lake Lotus Park – Altamonte Springs
1153 Lake Lotus Park Rd, Altamonte Springs
One of Seminole County’s best parks, Lake Lotus Park features a one-mile long raised boardwalk, scenic views of Lake Lotus, an education center, fishing pier, multiple pavilions, and a playground. The park is comprised of over 120 acres of woods and wetlands!
Make sure to venture over to the enclosed “Window on the Lake” building overlooking Lake Lotus. Parking during the week is at the park, whereas on the weekends it is off-site with a tram service.
Window on the Lake Pavilion at Lake Lotus Park | Dani Meyering
Big Tree Park – Cross Seminole Trail
761 General Hutchinson Parkway, Longwood
Big Tree Park is part of a larger conservation area in Seminole County known as Spring Hammock Preserve. This park can be accessed via the Cross Seminole Trail, a 23-mile trail with five trail heads. Big Tree Park is home to dense woods and a boardwalk.
The old historic cypress tree, known as the “Senator” was 3,500 years old – until it was sadly destroyed in an act of arson. A memorial pays homage to the park’s namesake, and a clone of the tree has been planted near the playground.
Magnolia Park – Apopka
2929 S Binion Rd, Apopka
This small but mighty park is a charmer. The Lake Apopka Loop Trail winds through wooded areas and near Lake Apopka. A sand volleyball court offers a chance to have some fun. You might even catch sight of a peacock or two!
WORTH A DAY TRIP
Hontoon Island State Park
2309 River Ridge Road DeLand
This awesome state park is free to visit and is in fact, an island. Parking is free and a ferry takes you across the water, a short ride, to the island itself. There you can explore walking trails, and biking trails, or stay close to the dock with picnic facilities and a playground. Hontoon Island State Park is the featured image.
Ravine Gardens State Park
1600 Twigg Street, Palatka
One line sums it all up: “Ancient ravines transformed into a rustic tropical garden.” Ravine Gardens is a great stop if you’re in the St. Augustine general area. Once inside the park a 1.8 mile paved road offers dramatic views of the ravines and gardens. There are picnic facilities and walking trails. The best time to visit is January – March, especially early March which is azalea season. For hiking enthusiasts, this park offers terrain that is different than most of Florida’s hiking, thanks to the ravines.
$5 per vehicle (cash)
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park – Micanopy
100 Savannah Blvd., Micanopy
Attention wildlife lovers, this is your park! This is the only park in Florida where you can see wild-roaming bison and horses. Nearly 300 species of birds also frequent the park along with alligators, deer and many other animals. Start your visit by catching breathtaking views at the top of the observation tower. A total of eight trails wait to be explored (sometimes high or low rain levels can cause a few of the trails to temporarily close). Be sure to stop into the Visitor Center. Pair your visit with an afternoon spent in the charming, Old Florida town of Micanopy.
$6 per vehicle
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson
Tibet Butler Nature Preserve – Orlando
8777 Winter Garden – Vineland Rd., Orlando
This 438-acre preserve provides multiple trails and a large education center for connecting with nature. Educational programs are offered every Saturday, check out the website for the current schedule. Some visitors claim they can hear the faint whistle of the train at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, if the wind is just right.
Oakland Nature Preserve – Oakland
747 Machette Trail, Oakland
Located just off the West Orange Trail near Kilarney Station, the jewel of this 128-acre preserve is the 2/3-mile boardwalk leading to the shores of Lake Apopka. Once you’ve arrived, soak up the views from the comfort of a rocking chair facing the water. Other perks include nature trails, wildlife spotting, and a spacious visitor center.
Oakland Nature Preserve at sunset. Image credit: Oakland Nature Preserve
Econ River Wilderness Area – Oviedo
3795 Old Lockwood Rd, Oviedo
One of Central Florida’s wildest, natural areas, this park has a 3-mile trail popular with runners and hikers. Views of the river and wetlands are found throughout the trail. This park is best visited outside of our rainy season, as the trail can get a bit soggy.
Bear Creek Nature Trail – Winter Springs
1555 Winter Springs Blvd, Winter Springs
This small, but mighty 1-mile trail and park allows you to soak up nature in the middle of suburban Seminole County. There are picnic facilities and a well-maintained trail, ideal for a morning or late afternoon visit.
Orlando Wetlands Park – Christmas
25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas
One of Central Florida’s most natural parks and full of wild Florida terrain, Orlando Wetlands Park is perfect for nature enthusiasts. There are hiking trails, overlooks, and observation areas. You’ll definitely want to dress in comfortable clothes (and closed toed shoes) for hiking.
Geneva Wilderness Area – Geneva
3485 N. CR 426, Geneva
Explore 180 acres of native Florida plants, woods, and wild animals. The diverse natural wonders make for beautiful surrounds. Hiking trails offer glimpses of a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer and grey fox. A nature center offers space for education programs and can also be booked for private events.
Leu Gardens – Orlando
1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando
Leu Gardens is one of Orlando’s iconic spaces. Monthly and annual events are offered, including a monthly outdoor movie night. A butterfly garden, rose garden, and shady pathways add a romantic atmosphere.
Kraft Azalea Garden – Winter Park
1365 Alabama Dr, Winter Park
This little park packs a picturesque punch. Nestled on Lake Maitland, Kraft Azalea Garden is a scenic spot beloved by many. Enormous cypress trees provide old Florida charm. The Exedra monument creates a regal atmosphere and makes for a popular picture spot. Consider a visit in early March to see the bright brilliant colors of the azalea plants.
Mead Botanical Garden – Winter Park
1300 S. Denning Drive,
Winter Park, FL 32789
Mead Garden is the hub of nature within Winter Park. This stunning park is popular with Winter Park residents and visitors. Explore the trails, bike path, pavilions, and gardens. In fact, there are five different gardens including a butterfly garden and bee garden. Be sure to check out the website to view all the events held here including concerts and guided hikes.
READ MORE: Orlando Gardens You Can Visit for FREE
WORTH A DAY TRIP
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Boulevard
Lake Wales, Florida 33853
This place is sure to take your breath away and is one of Central Florida’s most exquisite places. Quiet romantic hideaways are sprinkled throughout the acres of dense ferns, ancient oak trees, ponds, pines, and palms. There are special events and concerts throughout the year, with notable activities in the holiday season and beautiful blossoms in the early spring. The website offers sample itineraries based on the amount of time you wish to spend at the park.
Plus, we’ve got a guide for a romantic day at Bok Tower Gardens.
The on site Blue Palmetto Cafe is a great place to grab a fresh lunch, or you can pack your own picnic.
$15/person ages 12 and older, $5/child ages 5-12
Bok Tower Gardens | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson
Dr. P Phillips Community Park – Orlando
8249 Buenavista Woods Bv, Orlando
This spacious 43-acre park is one of the best parks for Orlando residents with children. The playground is somewhat lacking, but the large splash pad park makes up for it and then some. There is plenty of room from spreading out, fountains and sprayers are everywhere, and water spray cannons for family water fights. ou’ll find picnic facilities, a beautiful 0.6-mile nature trail, and sport fields.
Splash park admission: $1/person/session on weekends and holidays March-October and weekdays June-August
Chapin Station Park – Winter Garden
501 West Crown Point Cross Road
Winter Garden, FL
Combine a beautiful family bike ride with some quality time at a community park. Located on the West Orange Trail, this park is a great place to start your bike ride. Enjoy the playgrounds and the Path of Life engraved brick pathway winding through the garden. It is important to note that bike rental is not available at this park, so you’ll need to bring your own, or visit nearby Winter Garden Station for rental.
Waterfront Park – Clermont
100 3rd St., Clermont
Waterfront Park is the hub of activity for the city of Clermont. Nearly every weekend there is some sort of event. The main feature for families is the large Champions Splash park – one of the largest splash parks in Central Florida.
$2/person (CASH) for splash park
Fort Mellon Park – Sanford
600 E. 1st Street, Sanford
Fort Mellon Park offers one of the largest playgrounds in the area, a splash pad, picnic pavilions, a basketball court, tennis court, and expansive greens pace near Lake Monroe. After enjoying the park, bike along the Sanford Riverwalk. The free Sanford trolley stops here, so hop on board, go for a ride, and stop off at some of Sanford’s other sights along 1st Street, Sanford Avenue, and Palmetto Ave.
Wooton Park – Tavares
100 E. Ruby Street, Tavares
Tavares is known for its lakes and seaplanes. Wooton Park is the perfect encapsulation of this, with its lakeside location, views of incoming and outgoing seaplanes, and its spectacular seaplane-themed splash pad. The splash pad is one of Central Florida’s best, with a mini water tower topped with a seaplane that sprays water in all kinds of ways, and multiple other features like cattail-themed fountains. Right next to it is the Wooton Wonderland, a beautiful wood playground sheltered by shady southern oaks. This lakeside park also has canoe and kayak rental, picnic facilities, and a boat ramp.
Lake Mills Park – Chuluota
1301 Tropical Avenue, Chuluota
Inside Lake MIlls Park you will find Florida’s natural, subtropical landscape all around. The boardwalk trail brings you up close with a variety of Florida trees, mixed hard and soft woods. There is a sandy shore along the lake ideal for a hand-in-hand stroll, or laying out a blanket to sit and admire the views.
The playground is new and offers equipment for preschoolers and older kids too.
On site camping, a fishing dock, and canoe launch add to the rustic charm of this park, while a small soccer field and pavilions provide recreation opportunities.
Gilbert Park, Graham Point Park, and Mount Dora Lighthouse – Mount Dora
310 South Tremain Street, Mount Dora
Gilbert Park offers one of Central Florida’s most whimsical playgrounds. It has a wood castle theme with unique features and lots of additional small structures perfect for little ones ages 2-5 to explore. From Gilbert Park it is a two minute walk to Grantham Point Park, a lakeside park home to the Mount Dora Lighthouse. Grantham Park is a nautical, harbor like park, perfect for romantic views and for your little sailor too.
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