Must See Destinations

Best Nature Parks in Orlando: Get Into the Wild and Nature

Nature Parks in Orlando

Do you know what is hiding around Orlando? It is not just about theme parks and exciting rides. There’s a whole different side to Florida that many people miss but really should check out. Nature parks in Orlando Florida are filled with so much natural beauty, water springs and amazing wildlife.

Nature Parks in Orlando

Orlando is famous for theme parks. But did you know that Orlando has something amazing beyond its famous theme parks? While those parks are super fun there is a whole different side to Orlando that is waiting to be explored.

There are also awesome nature parks in Orlando that you can visit if you love nature. Think of clear, cold springs, intriguing cypress trees, mysterious swamps and trails under grand live oak trees.

I have been to Orlando many times to check out these natural wonders and they add a special touch to any Orlando trip.

Visit the city and enjoy activities like an Airboat Tour, Safari Park , Helicopter Tour, Night Tour Over Orlando’s Theme Parks and more.

Top 5 Nature Parks in Orlando

If you are looking for more than just roller coasters and characters then you should visit Orlando nature parks. Here is a list of top 5 nature parks in Orlando Florida you should definitely check out.

  1. Wekiwa Springs
  2. Tibet Butler Nature Preserve
  3. Alexander Springs Recreation Area
  4. Harry P Leu Gardens
  5. Orlando Wetlands Park

1. Wekiwa Springs Nature Parks in Orlando

Wekiwa Springs Nature Parks in Orlando
Wekiwa Springs Nature Parks in Orlando

Just a short drive from downtown Orlando Wekiwa Springs State Park is like a secret treasure in Florida. Locals love it because it is one of the best spots for spring swimming. Wekiwa Springs is extra special. It has clear blue waters, lots of trails to see and tons of Florida wildlife. But there is more to this park than just floating in the springs.

Imagine paddling down the water in a canoe or kayak or setting up camp for a night under the stars surrounded by lush trees and the calming river. Bird watchers love Wekiwa Springs too thanks to the vibrant birds that call central Florida their home.

And if you enjoy hiking the park has three different trails that lead you to some incredible sights and sounds of nature. It is an outdoor wonderland waiting to be explored.

2. Tibet Butler Nature Preserve

Can you believe there is a big wild area right in Orlando? Well it is true and it is called Tibet Butler Nature Preserve. This place is fantastic with trails that wind through bushes and thick pine forests. And the best part is that it’s super easy to get to. Inside there is a place called the Vera Carter Environmental Center. Where you can check out lots of cool exhibits before you start your walk.

The trails are not tough and are mostly flat. So if you like jogging, biking or have a stroller you can all join in. It might not be a super hard hiking adventure but it is definitely a must do for a relaxing afternoon.

As you walk you will discover a Florida swamp, hear the call of ospreys and feel like you are having a real “wild Florida” experience.

And guess what else? There is a picnic area, a butterfly garden and even a sandbox all close to the nature center. Just a heads up though dogs and bikes are not allowed here.

3. Alexander Springs Recreation Area

Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Alexander Springs Recreation Area

Imagine a place in the Ocala National Forest that feels like a paradise for people who love to swim in super fresh water. That is exactly what you get at Alexander Springs Recreation Area.

This place is awesome for families because the spring is not too steep and it is easy to get to. Take a refreshing swim, rent a canoe to see cool Florida animals as you float over the water or bring some food for a picnic on the land.

Best time to check out this spring is in the Spring season. That is when it is less crowded compared to the busy summer months when everyone has the same idea of cooling off in the water.

Also this spring is more like a secret spot for locals who love nature and not just a place for tourists. So if you are into nature and want to find a hidden gem in Florida Alexander Springs is the place to be.

4. Harry P Leu Gardens

The Harry P. Leu Gardens are famous for having lots of different plants. They have collections of things like aroids, azaleas, bamboo, bananas, citrus, ferns, hibiscus and roses. The gardens are split into 15 parts with different themes. There is a Butterfly Garden, Citrus Grove, Tropical Stream Garden and even a Floral Clock. You can also see more than 240 types of camellias and really old oak trees that are 200 years old.

People often visit the gardens for special events. They have movie nights, live jazz and story time for kids, which everyone loves. If you are hungry you can bring a small picnic and eat it on the patio at the Garden House Welcome Center.

Make sure to grab a map at the Garden House Welcome Center to help you find your way around. And guess what? You are allowed to take your own pictures too. So if you want to see beautiful plants and have some fun. Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of the best nature parks in Orlando.

5. Orlando Wetlands Park

Orlando Wetlands Park
Orlando Wetlands Park

If you are looking for a quiet and less crowded place near Orlando then the Orlando Wetlands Park is a perfect place especially for those who love wildlife. It is just a half hour drive to the east of downtown Orlando and guess what? It is free. Spread across 1650 acres this man made wetland is a haven for wildlife lovers and a favorite among nature photographers. And here is the exciting part.

The city recently opened the Cypress Boardwalk which is a 2200 foot long pathway that takes you through a cypress island where birds like to nest. The park is unique because it treats reclaimed water. And over more than three decades it has become a home for a variety of birds and animals who find it to be an ideal habitat.

For those who love guided tours there are free tram tours from September to May on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays running from 9am to 3pm. If you prefer hiking there is a 3.9 mile loop trail or a 2.5 mile “birding loop.”

Don’t forget to bring your hats and sunscreen because this place is full of sunshine. And don’t worry the park has restrooms available for your convenience. So get ready to explore the beauty of nature at Orlando Wetlands Park.

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Final Thoughts

Nature Parks in Orlando offer nature escape from the busy city life. These parks are filled with so many natural wonders. You will find here beautiful emerald springs, exciting trails and unique trees. In these Orlando nature parks you will also find a great species of plants and wildlife. So make some time from your busy schedule and visit these amazing nature parks in Orlando Florida.