When you’re ready to relax, value-packed public parks in Orlando are ready for you with breathtaking scenery, ample amenities and worry-free bliss (Lake Eola Park pictured).
Updated June 30, 2021
Orlando is best known for unique experiences and unparalleled excitement, but we’re no slouch when it comes to pure relaxation, either. In addition to spas, resort pools, lazy rivers and other options, quality down time can be enjoyed at public parks with gorgeous nature and plenty of amenities — not to mention free admission in most cases. What's more, our public parks are perfect for spreading out and enjoying our beautiful blue skies, including the 10 local favorites featured here!
Public Parks Close to Orlando’s Theme Parks
Shingle Creek Regional Park
Home to the northernmost headwaters of the Florida Everglades, Shingle Creek Regional Park is located in Kissimmee, about 20 minutes southeast of Walt Disney World® Resort. With numerous points of access throughout the Kissimmee area, this expansive park offers paddling, hiking, biking, fishing, birding and more.
Shingle Creek Regional Park also features the in-progress Shingle Creek Regional Trail, which will stretch 32 miles northward to Wekiwa Springs State Park once complete. For now, the trail will take you to the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum, which is a must-visit for history buffs of all ages.
Bill Frederick Park
Encompassing 183 acres of beautiful scenery just north of Universal Orlando Resort, Bill Frederick Park is nestled on the banks of Turkey Lake, which is considered to be one of Florida’s best fishing spots. Accordingly, it’s a must-visit for nature-lovers and anyone interested in recreational activities and gorgeous views.
Bill Frederick Park also offers a robust calendar of events, including October’s Asian Cultural Expo and Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival. There is a $4 entry fee per vehicle, but that nominal sum will get you access to playground equipment, fitness stations, sand volleyball courts, boat rentals, a drone-flying area and much more.
Kissimmee Lakefront Park
Approximately 30 minutes southeast of Walt Disney World, this park received a $31 million overhaul in 2014. Today, it hosts a full schedule of high-profile, outdoor events, and it also provides quick access to downtown Kissimmee’s restaurants and bars.
Kissimmee Lakefront Park hugs the coast of Lake Toho, which offers fantastic fishing — both via boat and on the park’s pier. You’ll also find picnic pavilions and a shaded playground area, and along the shore, you can take advantage of free, mounted binoculars to get a better view of the area’s wildlife.
Public Parks in the Downtown Orlando Area
Lake Eola Park
Located in downtown Orlando, this bucolic oasis is the crown jewel of Orange County’s public parks system. Relax along the banks of its namesake lake or even get on the water with one of its rentable, swan-shaped paddleboats. (Some say you haven’t truly experienced Orlando until you’ve taken one of those beauties for a spin!)
Discover: Downtown Orlando
Lake Eola Park also features regular live entertainment at the Walt Disney Amphitheater, as well as the weekly Orlando Farmers Market on Sundays and other special events, such as February’s Downtown Food & Wine Fest. And when you’re done relaxing, it offers quick, walkable access to many of downtown’s best restaurants and lounges.
Loch Haven Park
Just 10 minutes from downtown Orlando, this unique park offers relaxation for the body amid grassy, tree-shaded lawns. What really sets it apart, though, are opportunities to rejuvenate the mind at a stellar collection of museums and galleries, including the Orlando Museum of Art, The Mennello Museum of American Art, the kids-focused Orlando Science Center and others.
Discover: Arts & Entertainment
Loch Haven Park’s museums and cultural centers also host a wide range of special events. These include 1st Thursdays at the Orlando Museum of Art, focusing on different arts-related topics each month, and the Mennello Museum’s Yoga in the Sculpture Garden program, which is held on the last Sunday of every month. However, while admission to the park is free, keep in mind that its arts offerings usually require paid admission.
Lake Underhill Park
A haven for fishing and boating, this park is just 10 minutes east of downtown Orlando. It covers 8.8 acres of green space and features a .75-mile exercise trail that’s equipped with eight fitness stations along the southern shore of Lake Underhill.
Once you’ve recharged on the shore of Lake Underhill, you can enjoy a walking tour of the immediate area along the park’s 1.3-mile loop trail, which connects to other public parks and the lake’s bridge. Lake Underhill Park is also one of the best places to catch a sunset in Orlando.
Park of the Americas
About 15 minutes east of downtown Orlando, Park of the Americas is one of Orlando’s most popular dog parks, with separate, fenced areas where large and small dogs can run free. While that aspect only benefits visitors who bring dogs with them, anyone coming to Orlando with kids will find a lot to love here, too.
The reason being, this park features a “tot lot” packed with swings, climbers and motion activities for children ages 2-5. It also has shaded pavilions, picnic tables and grills, as well as a half-mile, 12-foot-wide path that cuts through the center of the park, complete with workout stations where you can perform 120 different exercises.
Public Parks Throughout the Orlando Area
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park has an admission fee of $6 per vehicle. But its titular springs, miles of nature trails and untapped beauty make it well worth the cost for anyone who’s serious about relaxation.
You can easily spend an entire day — or more — exploring this park’s tranquil experiences, including canoeing and kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, geocaching, fishing, camping, and more. Birders and animal-lovers will also want to visit, as the springs and sandhill uplands are home to all manner of wildlife. Wekiwa Springs State Park is just 25 minutes north of downtown Orlando.
You can’t fly like an American bald eagle at this park, about 25 minutes south of Orlando International Airport, but chances are you’ll see some while you’re there, not to mention a stunning array of other local fauna. The reason being, Eagles Roost is a protected nesting area for our national mascot and other species of water-loving birds.
Speaking of water, this park includes a hiking trail that will take you to an observation pier on Lake Hart. During your walk, be sure to stop by the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge, where you can observe the park’s animal ambassadors and learn how they care for Orlando’s native wildlife species.
Known for hosting popular festival like February’s Birdapalooza and May’s Magnolia Park Bluegrass Festival, this park is adjacent to Lake Apopka, the third-largest lake in Florida. In addition to providing hiking, cycling, and even camping opportunities, it also offers free programs. They include weekly options like Campfire Chat on Saturdays and Walk n’ Talk on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus Eco Adventures for groups.
Furthermore, Magnolia Park boasts the Lake Apopka Loop Trail, a nearly 30-mile (round-trip) route around the lake. Located 25 minutes northeast of downtown Orlando, it’s also paradise for bird-watchers with more than 360 varieties of birds.
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