Explore beyond the theme parks this summer and engage with Orlando’s hidden gems and off-the-beaten path treasures, including the Drive-Thru Safari at Wild Florida (pictured).
Looking to take your adventures beyond the theme parks this summer in Orlando? Here’s a look at some hidden gems that are worth visiting while you’re in town, offering unique outdoorsy experiences that are guaranteed to take the path off the beaten track.
Discover: 10 Summer Must-Do’s in Orlando
Orlando vacation planning made easy — and free. Make a complimentary appointment with Visit Orlando’s Vacation Planners at a time and date of your choosing for the latest insider advice, special offers and more ahead of your next visit.
Soak in the water of cool natural springs, observe wildlife in natural environments, and admire the simplicity of nature for a tranquil getaway.
These and other natural springs are all about an hour or less from Orlando’s tourism districts.
Discover: Natural Springs Near Orlando
Blue Spring State Park
Enjoy a day under the crisp Orlando sun at Blue Spring State Park, where 72-degree waters are perfect for those longing for cool relief. While traveling down the St. Johns River, keep an eye out for “sea cows,” more commonly known as manatees. Although the springs are great, there are a lot of other activities to be done at this state park, such as launching a canoe or kayak, bird watching, hiking, or taking a guided river boat cruise. Any way you choose to spend your time, you’re sure to appreciate the natural beauty.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Known for its emerald-colored waters, Wekiwa Springs is extremely popular with both tourists and locals. You can explore this park by tube, foot, bike, horseback, canoe or kayaks. Wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and Sherman’s fox squirrels may be seen throughout the park. For those who wish to explore longer and/or do multiple activities, you may want to utilize the camping and lodging amenities.
At King’s Landing, you can kayak, canoe or paddle board down the natural springs. Tubing is not permitted at this spring; however, if you favor exercise and motion-based activities, you’ll be sure to have fun with this experience. At the springs, you can choose to rent or self-launch. One popular option is the 8.5-mile downstream journey to Wekiva Island — just keep in mind you’ll need to take a return shuttle back to the beginning of your journey.
With an array of both land and aquatic animals, you will be intrigued with these group and self-guided tours.
Covering 110 acres, Gatorland is one of Orlando’s longest-running attractions. In addition to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, it’s also home to a flight aviary, a petting zoo, bobcats, a nature walk and more.
Save on discount tickets: Gatorland
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
Glide over the wetlands with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Here, you can hop on an airboat tour, explore the butterfly garden, sift through the gem mine, eat at Boggy Bottom BBQ, and learn history about the Native American villages of the past.
Save on discount tickets: Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
Visit the headwaters of the Florida Everglades through a truly wild experience. Known for their airboat tours, Wild Florida offers other unique adventures for you to explore. From seeing and interacting with exotic animals to going on a drive-thru safari, there is a lot to experience while you’re here.
Save on discount tickets: Wild Florida
You’ll find farmers markets at popular locations throughout the Orlando area. And given that they tend to start in the morning, they present ideal outdoor starts to any summer day.
Orlando Farmers Market
Held in downtown’s Lake Eola Park, the Orlando Farmers Market happens every Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Spend the morning and afternoon roaming around this lively scene filled with seasonal goods and locally crafted merchandise.
Discover: Things to Do in Downtown Orlando
Lake Nona Farmers Market
Gather at the Lake Nona Farmers Market from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays and engage with locals while enjoying a day under the sun with friends and family. Grab all the fresh produce you can and shift through local vendor’s crafts. The future-facing Lake Nona community is minutes from Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Discover: Things to Do in Lake Nona
Winter Park Farmers’ Market
Located at the corner of New York Avenue and Morse Boulevard, this Saturday market is packed with cheerful consumers. Running from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., the Winter Park Farmers’ Market is known as the No. 1 produce and plant market in Central Florida, and it also has homemade goods and much more. The upscale city of Winter Park is just north of downtown Orlando.
Discover: Things to Do in Winter Park
Winter Garden Farmers Market
This market is in historic Winter Garden west of Orlando’s tourism districts. Running from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturdays, it features sweet hometown fresh produce, herbs, artisan crafts and more. The market takes place in the city’s central plaza. Take some time to wander around town where shops, restaurants, museums and the Garden Theatre are located.
Discover: Things to Do in Winter Garden
Ice-Cold Local Delights
The perfect mouthwatering treat to cool you down after a long summer day, ice cream never fails to put a smile on one’s face. Try out these local favorites when you’re ready to beat the heat.
Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream
Indulge in the rich and creamy goodness of Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. There are several locations throughout Orlando, but the original location is about 10 minutes from downtown in Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District.
Being shaped like an ice cream cone, this “hidden gem” is hard to miss. Twistee Treat has multiple locations throughout Orlando and has an eye-catchingly unique design. They specialize in soft-serve ice cream and other treats. Get ready to have your camera out to snap a pic!
Discover Earth’s natural beauty by taking some time to engage with nature, escape to more rural areas, and see more of what Orlando has in store. Admire all the fun there is to do and see with a breath of fresh air at these standouts and other locations. As with other outdoor activities, morning is the best time to visit gardens during the summer.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Explore 50 acres of beautifully cultivated gardens with more than 40 diverse plant collections from around the world — including a tropical rainforest, Florida’s largest formal rose garden and an amazing butterfly garden. Harry P. Leu Gardens is part of the Audubon Park Garden District.
Bok Tower Gardens
Gaze upon the legendary Neo-Gothic and Art Deco marvel known as the Bok Tower. The singing tower was built in the center of 7.5 acres and is open 365 days a year. From exploring the Olmsted Gardens to following nature trails, there are many activities to enjoy. Bok Tower Gardens is about an hour south of Orlando’s main tourism districts and close to LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.
Discover: Day Trips From Orlando
Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter
Lukas Nursery is home to many different plants, and it also offers a unique fluttery experience. Thanks to their charming butterfly garden, it’s no guess as to why they are named one of the 25 largest tourist attractions in Central Florida. While here, be sure to lookout for multi-colored birds that are featured in this cool garden experience.
Stay Connected to Orlando
You never know what we’ll dream up next. Connect with Visit Orlando’s Vacation Planning Services for free, personalized assistance, and follow us on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Threads and YouTube for valuable offers, exclusive tips, fresh attractions and the latest events. You can also subscribe to our eNewsletter for more information from Orlando: Theme Park Capital of the World.
Have feedback about this blog? Let us know.