Over 100 parks in the Metro Orlando area exist, ranging from hundreds of acres of preserved land to smaller neighborhood spots. Hiking, fishing, wildlife-spotting and more can be found at the parks on this list, and all of them are perfect for fresh air and leisure activities.
Orlando Loch Haven Park covers 45 acres and is known as a destination for the cultural arts. The park lies between three lakes: Lake Estelle, Lake Rowena and Lake Formosa, right in the Mill 50 area of town. In addition to beautiful lawns, stunning old oak trees (including “The Mayor,” a tree that is older than the Constitution), and outdoor sculptures, Loch Haven is home to the Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Fire Museum, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Reparatory Theatre and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. It’s also the home of the annual Orlando Fringe Festival.
At the Bill Frederick Park, 183 acres of land are available to enjoy, all alongside Turkey Lake, a top-rated lake for Florida fishing. There are recreational activities, views, and campgrounds, and it’s minutes away from the major area attractions. The park is home to disc golf events, 5k runs, and other cultural and sporting activities.
This neighborhood park is small but beautiful, with just under nine acres of green along the southern bank of Lake Underhill. Ramps for boaters are available, and the lake is stocked for fishing. Bird-watchers will be thrilled with all the avian wildlife along the shore. Want to exercise outdoors? A 0.75-mile (1.2-kilometer) trail, complete with multiple fitness stations, awaits. The hiking trail in this park connects to other area parks in both directions—Festival Park, Orlando Skate Park, Colonel Joe Kittinger Park, West Underhill Park and Park of the Americas.
President Obama named this local gem as one of “America’s Great Outdoors.” Shingle Creek Regional Park is at the Headwaters of the Florida Everglades. The “park” is actually several different properties, all of which Osceola County, the City of Kissimmee, South Florida Water Management District, Trust for Public Land and Florida Communities Trust, all working in partnership, purchased for conservation efforts. The area is often called the “Northernmost Headwaters of the Florida Everglades,” and it begins right in the Orlando Metro area. The best place to start a visit is at the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum.
This enormous 7,000-acre Florida State Park lies 20 minutes north of Orlando, right off Interstate 4 at exit 94. The park contains the headwater of the Wekiva River, which is a Florida State Canoe Trail, an “Outstanding Florida Water” and a protected aquatic preserve. This is old Florida, a protected space that shows what the state was like before colonization. Camping is huge here and includes four sites for swimming and tubing (the water stays a cool 72°F [22°C] all year round), and it gets crowded in the summer. The wildlife in and out of the water is spectacular here, and hikers of all levels can find a trail that works for them, from under a mile (1.6 kilometers) to nearly 14 (22.5 kilometers).
The Park of the Americas offers something for every member of the family, from the smallest to the furriest. Children can have fun at the “tot lot,” and dogs can run free at the dog park. Adults can enjoy a half-mile-long path that winds through the park and features five workout stations with a combined 120 exercises for any fitness level. There are also shade pavilions, picnic areas with tables and grills, and a community meeting space that doubles as a District 2 satellite office.
Not far from Orlando International Airport is a park that offers some of the best wildlife the area has to offer. True to its name, Eagles Roost is home to bald eagles and is a protected nesting area for them, but there are also many other birds that enjoy the waters of Lake Hart. Hike the trail to the observation pier on the lake. Along the way, visit the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge to see how local wildlife is cared for in the event of an injury or other emergencies, and meet the animal ambassadors.