Photo Michael Szönyi / agefotostock
Wekiwa Springs State Park
With all of Orlando’s man-made attractions, it’s refreshing to get deep into nature at this wonderful state park, located north of downtown and the theme-park corridor. Spread across 7,000 acres of pristine central Florida forest, the park centers around the headwaters of the Wekiwa River, a beautiful, blue-and-green-hued spring with a roped-off area that’s safe for swimming (alligators do dwell in the main river). Rent a kayak or canoe at the park and paddle from the spring into the river, where you can spot turtles and alligators sitting on the banks. If you’re seeking a more primitive experience, you can also book one of the park’s spacious campsites, some of which come with hookups for electricity and water.
By Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
My Favorite Florida Escape: Canoeing Wekiwa Springs
My favorite local escape is canoeing at Wekiwa Springs State Park. Get there early to rent a canoe before it gets crowded. Experience the lush greenery at canoe-level, along with egrets, turtles, herons, and (occasionally) alligators. Later, lounge on a blanket on the grass lawn and then go swimming in the whoa-it's-cold springs. Don't miss out on exploring some of Florida's natural beauty. Tip: Go on a weekday.
By Jack Barr, AFAR Local Expert
1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712, USA
Sun - Sat 8am - 8:30pm