Orlando Nature and Parks
Flora & Fauna
With a beautiful climate like Orlando’s, it’s a great idea to take a moment to smell the roses—literally! Thankfully, there are several parks in Orlando, FL dedicated to showing off the best of its flora and fauna. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, a vigorous hike, or birdwatching, Orlando’s parks, preserves, and nature areas make for a great trip!
Orlando Wetlands Park
A man-made wetland to the east of the city, Orlando Wetlands Park is vital not only to the local ecology—birds and gators especially—but also to the treatment of Orlando’s water. During the winter, all sorts of waterfowl journey here for the pleasant temperatures—an astonishing variety of birds are drawn here, making it an ornithologist’s paradise! The Orlando park even offers tram tours on Fridays and Saturdays, and are great for learning about Florida’s environment in ways a museum could never teach you.
Orlando Wetlands Park is 45 to 60 minutes from Orlando heading east on FL-408.
Split Oak Forest Mitigation Park
Southeast of Orlando you’ll find this preserved site. It’s got two loops that make pleasant hiking and is a great spot to see wildlife that you can’t spot in Orlando. Deer, tortoises, birds, and more make their home here, far from the bustle of the city. There’s a variety of scenery too, with ponds, pine trees, and soft sand all making up the environment. Head out early in the morning while the animals are still active for the best pictures!
Split Oak Forest is a bit out of the way, but easy to get to if you’re near FL-417; take this highway to Narcoossee Road and you’re nearly there!
Harry P. Leu Gardens
A more carefully cultivated approach to enjoying nature, the Leu Gardens in Orlando features about a dozen gardens, all designed to help visitors better appreciate plants. The plants thrive in every season, from the seasonal annual flowers to the mighty oaks, from the bromeliads to the vines. If you want to go for a lakeside stroll and see nature carefully arranged in front of you, this should be on your list!
Not far from downtown, you can reach Leu Gardens on N. Forest Ave near Lake Rowena.
Smaller Orlando Nature Parks
For a more casual stop, there are plenty of Orlando parks throughout, especially in the area stretching from the I-4 to S. Crystal Lake Drive, sandwiched between Curry Ford Road and Livingston Street. These offer such varied activities as work out stations, dog runs, and more!