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Lake Eola Park
Photograph: Visit Florida/Julie FletcherLake Eola Park

The 8 best parks in Orlando

The best parks in Orlando showcase Florida’s natural beauty and allow you literally dip your toes in nature

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois

Orlando might scream tourists and theme parks, but there’s a whole other side to this city just waiting to be discovered. The best part? These bountiful lush green escapes are the perfect place to escape the tourist rush. 

Whether you want to float along a freshwater spring, follow a bike trail or spot swans in a nearby lake, Orlando’s parks and green spaces have everything you need for a spot of tranquillity. So if you’ve had a bit too much fun at one of its many theme parks, you know where to come. Here are the best parks in Orlando. 

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Megan Dubois is a journalist covering theme parks, travel and more. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Best parks in Orlando

Kelly Park and Rock Springs
Photograph: Visit Orlando

1. Kelly Park and Rock Springs

Kelly Park features a natural spring that’s always a cool 68 degrees, which honestly feels great in the middle of a Florida summer. You can rent tubes to float down the springs or you can bring your own, but they have to be less than five feet across. The ride takes about 25 minutes but you can go as many times as you wish. Just be sure to arrive early – the park will close when it reaches capacity, which is typically only an hour after opening on warm days.

Wekiwa Springs State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs is known for its glittering emerald waters that feed into the Wekiwa River. The park is more than just floating along in the springs though. Here you can canoe and kayak down the waterways or set up a spot for an overnight camping adventure among the lush trees and river banks. Birders from around the state also flock to Wekiwa Springs for the vast amount of colorful birds that call central Florida home. Hiking is also plentiful at the park, with three different trails taking visitors around the park to see some of the sights and sounds of nature.

Leu Gardens
Photograph: Visit Orlando

3. Leu Gardens

A few minutes from downtown Orlando, there’s a stunning garden oasis ready to be explored. The Leu Gardens is 50 acres of uninterrupted botanical bliss. Each of the gardens at the site are designed to help visitors be inspired with ideas for their own home garden. Throughout the year, Leu Gardens also hosts a variety of events including a movie night and live concerts. Those looking for a more in-depth look at the flowers can book a tour of the gardens and of the historic home on site.

Lake Eola Park
Photograph: Visit Florida/Julie Fletcher

4. Lake Eola Park

Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, this walkable park has a large pond in the middle that’s often filled with cute but somewhat aggressive swans. (And we're talking about the real animals here, not the rentable swan boats — though, those are cute, too.) Lake Eola is also home to the Walt Disney Amphitheater where groups of musicians and local acts perform throughout the year.

Blue Spring State Park
Photograph: Save the Manatee Club

5. Blue Spring State Park

The waters at Blue Spring State Park are always a refreshing 72 degrees, which is ideal for floating along during warm Florida afternoons. You know who else finds it ideal? The large number of manatees that float alongside guests in the spring runs! (Though guests are discouraged from touching or getting to close to the gentle giants.) After your float, you can hike along the spring run path or take a separate four-and-a-half mile trip to see ospreys, eagles and more birds of prey. 

De Leon Springs State Park
Photograph: Visit Orlando

6. De Leon Springs State Park

Another Florida natural spring worth jumping into, De Leon Springs boasts crystal clear waters that are always a cool 72 degrees. The park also has a unique history: The spring was once used to turn a sugar cane mill, grist mill and flour mill during the Civil War. You can choose to float down the spring run, or you can take a heritage boat tour around the park and a nearby wildlife refuge to learn about the history of the location and see some of the animals that call the springs home.

West Orange Trail
Photograph: Visit Orlando

7. West Orange Trail

This unique "park" is actually a 22-mile-long bike trail called the West Orange Trail. At the northern end is Apopka, then the trail winds through Winter Garden (stop for a drink at Crooked Can Brewing Company) before continuing the last five miles west. You don’t have to own a bike to trek the trail – it’s also good for walking, running, skating and even horseback riding. Along the way you’ll come across cute towns and little spots to stop and take a break before heading back out again.

Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake

Bill Frederick Park takes up 183 acres of land along the shore of Turkey Lake, which is one of the top-five fishing lakes in Florida. The park is well loved by nature enthusiasts who head there to see a variety of wildlife and try their luck at catching a big one. The shady sidewalks and grassy areas make this a fantastic spot for a picnic with friends or just a day set aside to enjoy the great outdoors.

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