Paddleboarding, canoeing, live music, craft beer and even private cabanas await at Wekiva Island.
From bird watching, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding, there's plenty to do in Orlando outside the theme parks. And as part of our Like a Local series, we are taking you to Wekiva Island — one of the best places to enjoy a day full of eco-friendly fun in Orlando.
Learn more: Orlando Sports, Recreation & Outdoors
A Getaway Dream
Located in Longwood, about a half hour north of Orlando, Wekiva Island is an eco-friendly haven and the perfect spot to enjoy natural Florida for a great value. As you make your way down a spring-fed river teeming with wildlife, you are nearly guaranteed sightings of turtles and birds galore.
Visitors can absorb all the beauty around them from the comfort of a private cabana. Each cabana comes with Adirondack chairs, a comfortable couch, storage area and coffee table. As you relax in the cabana, there's no need to move a muscle: You can order food and drinks right from your cabana throughout the day, including local favorites such as beef brisket, gator tacos and craft beer.
When you are ready to venture out, there is plenty to keep you busy. Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent. Whatever you choose, skimming your way across the water of the scenic Wekiva River is one of the best ways to scope out the local marine life.
Paddleboards are $40 a day or $35 if rented after 12 p.m. and $30 if rented after 4 p.m. Canoes and single kayaks are available for rent for $30 per day or $25 for the afternoon. Double kayaks are $35 per day or $30 for the afternoon.
If you've got enough energy left after a fun day in the water, hit the volleyball courts or enjoy a game of cornhole. Keep in mind, the beach volleyball court is available for rent, so remember to make a reservation ahead of time.
Get Ready to Eat
When you are ready to refuel, The Tooting Otter, a general store and wine bar, has an impressive selection of craft beers, charcuterie boards and other snacks. Note: Happy hour is from 5-7 p.m. daily. During that time, beer and wine are $1 off the regular price.
If you visit during the winter, don't worry: There's a fire pit for roasting marshmallows. In addition, the park hosts "Firepit Friday" events, where you'll get a dose of live music and a themed dinner.
Before You Leave
End the day with a stroll down the boardwalk and plop yourself down in the line of Adirondack chairs to soak up your surroundings and start planning your next visit. Throughout the year, there are live music performances, painting activities and wine events. There is definitely no shortage of fun at Wekiva Island.
If You Go
Before you plan your trip, take a look at the events calendar at WekivaIsland.com to find your favorite and plan in advance. The cabanas fill up quickly on the weekends, so book online in advance. Better yet, go on a weekday morning to have the place to yourself.
Sarah Sekula is a national travel correspondent who enjoys telling others about Orlando's hidden gems. She works as a travel writer, social media influencer and video host, and her assignments for USA Today, CNN.com, ESPNW.com, NBC.com, GoEscape and Islands.com have taken her to all seven continents. Follow her adventures via social media @wordzilla (Twitter) and @sarahsomewhere (Instagram).
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