On land, in the water and through the air, unforgettable Orlando ecotourism opportunities will amaze you, including kayaking, nature trails, zip-line adventures, airboat tours and much more (Winter Park Chain of Lakes pictured, courtesy Get Up & Go Kayaking).
Updated March 2, 2023
Orlando offers a ton of unforgettable eco-friendly adventures — and the cooler winter and spring months are the perfect time to immerse yourself in our greater outdoors. Spotlighting airboat rides, zip-lining, hang-gliding, off-roading, kayaking, hiking, birdwatching and more, here’s your guide to Orlando ecotourism experiences you won’t want to miss.
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Ecotourism Thrills in Orlando
Orlando’s flora and fauna offer relaxing escapes, but our natural beauty provides ample thrills, too. Dune buggies, airboats, zip lines and hang-gliding are some of the many ways to have a wild time with Mother Nature during your next visit.
Zip Lining in Orlando
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens features Seminole Aerial Adventures, where you can navigate between trees using rope bridges, 13 zip lines, suspended disks and other unique elements. They’re in Sanford, about 35 minutes north of our main tourism districts.
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Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
About 15 minutes southwest of Walt Disney World® Resort, Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park invites you to climb and soar with Tarzan-style swings, nets, ropes, challenging bridges and more fun for all ages — including a 425-foot zip line.
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Screamin’ Gator Zip Line
Available as an upgrade to regular admission at Gatorland, the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line allows you to soar over live alligators and crocodiles at speeds near 30 miles per hour. Explore Orlando’s wild side with thrilling animal shows, a free-flight aviary and up-close animal encounters, included in your ticket, or upgrade to go even deeper into gator territory on the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, a separately ticketed attraction that provides a truly wild ride.
Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures
Located one hour from Orlando on Florida’s east coast, Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures at Melbourne’s Brevard Zoo will send you flying over gators, spider monkeys, otters and more unique animal exhibits. With 14 zip lines, plus swinging ropes, climbing walls and other fun obstacles, this admission upgrade has something for everyone, from beginners to expert thrill seekers.
Airboat Tours in Orlando
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
Glide through tall grass and swamp in search of alligators, cranes and other native Florida wildlife with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Located 40 minutes southeast of Walt Disney World® Resort, this natural attraction offers day, sunset and night tours, as well as a gator pond, Native American village and gem mining opportunities.
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Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides
Discover incredible wildlife aboard Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides, located 30 minutes southeast of Walt Disney World. This small-group tour operator offers an intimate look at Florida’s majestic swamps, with six-passenger airboats, extended tour options, and headsets that allow you to speak with other guests and the captain throughout your tour.
Explore the headwaters of the Everglades on a Wild Florida airboat tour. All airboat adventures, including private day or evening tours, include admission to the onsite wildlife and gator park, where you can visit over 200 native and exotic animals. Upgrade your experience with up-close animal encounters and drive-thru safari tours. You can even dine next to Crusher, Wild Florida’s famous 14-foot, 1,000-pound alligator, if you’re feeling bold.
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More Ecotourism Adventures in Orlando
Real Florida Adventures
Set out on a guided manatee adventure tour with Real Florida Adventures, local experts who offer unique day trips and private tours in the greater Orlando area. Snorkel with manatees at Crystal River, kayak natural springs, explore Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and uncover more stunning eco-attractions, with transportation from Orlando included in every tour.
Just 30 minutes west of Walt Disney World, take the wheel of a Polaris ATV or RZR, Hummer, dune buggy, or amphibious “Mucky Duck” for pulse-pounding, off-road fun. Revolution Adventures also has clay shooting, archery and bass fishing.
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Offering a decidedly different eco-tour, Tank America invites you to drive an actual tank through gorgeous Central Florida wilderness. In fact, it’s the only place you can drive a tank in Florida without joining the military, and you’ll find it just east of downtown Orlando.
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Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight Park
Experience breathtaking views from 2,000 feet above ground at this attraction, which is about 20 minutes southwest of Walt Disney World.
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Ecotourism Exploration in Orlando
If you’re the type who likes to explore nature at a slower pace, you won’t want to miss the milder side of Orlando ecotourism, including kayaking, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and more.
Kayaking & Boat Tours in Orlando
Adventures in Florida
Kayak Orlando’s hidden gems with the Certified Florida Master Naturalists at Adventures in Florida, who offer unbelievably real day trips and extended expeditions throughout Central Florida. See manatees, set out on a bioluminescent adventure, or catch a rocket launch from the serenity of your kayak.
About an hour east of Orlando, Brevard Zoo is the only zoo in the country to offer a guided kayak tour around an animal exhibit. Choose from the Expedition Africa tour or keep it local at the Wild Florida exhibit.
Epic Paddle Adventures
Offering tours all over Central Florida, Epic Paddle Adventures provides opportunities to explore crystal-clear springs, search for marine life on the intercoastal, or just enjoy some local sunshine on one of our many pristine lakes. You don’t need to go far, either, with several urban paddleboard and kayak tours available in the heart of Orlando’s unique neighborhoods.
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Get Up and Go Kayaking
Known for their famous clear kayaks, Get Up and Go Kayaking offer an unbeatable view of Florida’s waterways, with tours available in Rainbow Springs, Rock Springs, Silver Springs and Winter Park.
JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
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Explore Florida’s pristine waterways on guided kayak adventures with Viking EcoTours. Glide alongside dolphins and manatees, witness incredible sunsets, and be mesmerized by shimmering bioluminescent plankton on the Canaveral National Seashore. Viking EcoTour’s accessible, pedal-powered boats leave your hands free, so you won’t miss a single shot of these unforgettable experiences.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour
See gorgeous flora and fauna — plus multimillion-dollar homes — during the one-hour, narrated Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour through its namesake city’s gorgeous lakes and canals, about 20 minutes north of our main tourism districts.
Nature & Hiking Trails in Orlando
Cady Way Trail
Stretching from downtown Orlando to Winter Park, this 7.2-mile paved corridor features water fountains and sheltered rest stops, with plenty of dining and shopping opportunities to explore along the way.
Florida Natural Scenic Trail
Explore the incredible biodiversity of Florida’s native ecosystems along the Florida National Scenic Trail, which covers 1,500 miles from the Panhandle to the Everglades. In Orlando, you can hike through pine flatwoods, freshwater marsh, oak hammock and more at Crosby Island Marsh Preserve, Moss Park and the Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area, all located near Orlando International Airport (MCO).
About 20 minutes north of our main tourism districts, the 438-acre Tibet-Butler Preserve features 4 miles of trails, seven ecosystems, and many bodies of water in the Butler Chain of Lakes, officially recognized by the state as Outstanding Florida Water.
West Orange Trail
This 20.8-mile paved trail stretches north from Winter Garden, about 30 minutes west of our tourism districts to the banks of Lake Apopka with plenty of amenities along the way — including playground equipment. If you want to bike it, West Orange Trail Bikes & Blades Co. of Winter Garden rents bicycles and similar equipment, including bike trailers for transporting kids. They can even deliver to your hotel.
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Natural Springs in Orlando
Blue Spring State Park
This park offers year-round adventure, including opportunities for camping, birding, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming and more, all about an hour north of Orlando’s main tourism districts.
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De Leon Springs State Park
In addition to showcasing Florida’s natural beauty, this park is home to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House, where you can make custom pancakes inside a 100-year-old replica of an 1830s sugar mill. It’s a little more than an hour north of our tourism districts.
Kelly Park and Rock Springs Run State Reserve
About 50 minutes northwest of our tourism districts, this park features free-flowing natural springs, several hiking and equestrian trails, and Rock Springs, a clear, swift creek where you can enjoy tubing in the summer.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Just 40 minutes north of Orlando’s main tourism districts, this massive park has trails, canoe rentals, untouched vistas and family-friendly play areas, as well as its namesake springs. It’s adjacent to Wekiva Island, a unique day resort that only charges $2 for admission. (Local tip: “Wekiva” and “Wekiwa” are both pronounced “wuh-kive-uh.”)
Wildlife & Birding in Orlando
Fishing at Walt Disney World® Resort
Experience bass fishing at its finest all year round at Walt Disney World® Fishing. Suitable for novices and experts alike, two- and four-hour options include guided bass-fishing excursions aboard a 21-foot Sun Tracker pontoon boat for up to five people, and a tournament-style NITRO® bass-fishing boat for up to three people. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance.
Gatorland Bird Rookery
On select days from March through May, bird enthusiasts and photographers can gain early morning, value-priced access to Gatorland’s expansive nature preserves with the park’s Photographers Pass. See cattle egrets, tricolored herons, great egrets and more during breeding season, as well as flamingos, macaws and other exotic birds year-round at the Very Merry Aviary.
The Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail
An amazing resource for viewing a wide variety of wildlife, this trail has 17 locations in Orlando and Orange County, as well as numerous other places throughout Florida. Start at Harry P. Leu Gardens in the Audubon Park Garden District near downtown Orlando, which hosts avian experts and other guest speakers from the Orange Audubon Society from September through June.
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JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
Guests of sister properties JW Marriott Orlando and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando in Grande Lakes can observe wildlife on a sunrise safari, take to one of 11 private lakes and ponds for fishing or angling expeditions, and even participate in a falconry class. The professionally guided eco-tours reveal fascinating aspects about the area’s history and wildlife.
Lake Apopka North Shore
About an hour northwest of our tourism districts, this gorgeous area is home to more than 360 bird species, including bald eagles, great blue herons, snow egrets and anhingas. It’s also part of the North Shore Birding Festival, which takes place each winter and offers guided birding and nature tours.
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