What to Do around The Westin Lake Mary, Orlando North
Chic and happening, Lake Mary is one of the prettiest suburbs in Orlando. There’s a swath of bike trails, surrounded by boutiques, open-air restaurants, and fun-on-tap bars. To discover real Florida, visit the springs and state parks in Lake Mary’s backyard.
100 N Country Club Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746, USA
Every first Wednesday of the month in downtown Lake Mary, WineART Wednesday happens: local art, food trucks, and live music. To get a sense of the community, go where the locals hang out. Kick back in an adirondack chair and sip wine under the oak trees. The downtown district is at 101 North 4th Street, off Lake Mary Boulevard.
1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712, USA
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.
1130 Townpark Ave
Part cigar store, part bar, and part lounge: Corona Cigar Company is pretty much cigar nirvana for some. With indoor and outdoor seating, including sumptuous leather and wood chairs, this is a chilled spot for a smoke and a drink. Go before a movie or after dinner at the Colonial Town Park.
100 N Country Club Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746, USA
Alfajores are the specialty of Camilia Sweets at the Lake Mary Farmer’s Market. Two friendly sisters from Peru are happy to share a delicious bite of culture with samples of all-natural, freshly-baked artisan cookies. The delicate cookies, dusted with powdered sugar, come in flavors like dulche de leche and coconut. Fill a bag or box with a dozen alfajores for later. Find their aqua-and-pink booth at the Lake Mary Farmer’s Market in Central Park, at Lake Mary Boulevard and 4th Street. The market is held every Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.(weather permitting).
2100 West French Avenue
In the winter months, manatees seek the warmer, shallow waters of Blue Springs State Park. An observation deck allows for viewing of the manatees. It’s quite a sight—seeing the gentle, endangered species. I was invited to canoe with a manatee researcher for Save the Manatees. Massive manatees came up to and swam under our canoe, while the baby manatees stayed shyly close to their mothers. Paved paths, hiking trails, and canoe and kayak rentals are available.
2111 WP Ball Blvd, Sanford, FL 32771, USA
This locally-owned nail spa has won, hands down, Orlando’s best nail salon three years in a row. Go for a chocolate pedicure, with scrumptious scrubs and mousse lotions. Bring the family for a pedi party. On weekends, it’s best to call ahead or stop by to pencil in your name. Pass the time in nearby shops, and the owner will call when your pedi chair is available.
531 North Palmetto Avenue
If Old Florida is up your alley, visit Sanford for a walk along First Street, lined with historical buildings, charming shops, and open-air restaurants. Then stroll to Lake Monroe Harbour, which is part of the St. Johns River.
7005 Co Rd 46A, Lake Mary, FL 32746, USA
For happy hour, head to FishBones bar and outdoor covered patio. At International Parkway and H. E. Thomas Jr. Parkway, a mix of locals, young professionals and business travelers frequent here after work. The hip, underwater decor provides a casual atmosphere for enjoying appetizers such as mussels, fish dip, sushi, sashimi, dang bang shrimp, and Appalachicola raw oysters. Happy hour is at the bar and patio only, Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Cross Seminole Trail, Florida, USA
Lake Mary is as bike-friendly as a city can be. Throughout the day—especially on the weekends—locals and bikers from neighboring cities can be found out and about getting exercise or enjoying a leisurely and scenic ride. Alongside the bikers on the path are rollerbladers and walkers. The Lake Mary stretch of the Cross Seminole Trail is about four miles, and runs parallel to the residential Rinehart Road. Tip: A good place to park your bike and take a break is behind Panera or Peach Valley Cafe on International Parkway and Lake Mary Boulevard. This is also the prettiest portion of the trail, with pastoral scenery away from traffic.
1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, USA
While Orlando typically inspires images of amusement parks, the city is also home to sites that are completely separate from the manufactured worlds of Disney and Universal—such as the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The urban oasis teems with tropical plants like azaleas and palms, and includes an historic home once inhabited by the Leu family. With more than 2,000 camellia plants and 230-plus cultivars, its impressive collection ranks among the largest in the United States.
274 Cranes Roost Blvd, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, USA
In Uptown Altamonte, a one-mile walkway zigzags above the water of Cranes Roost Lake. It’s an ideal locale for a walk or an evening jog. Located near the Atlamonte Mall and restaurants, families flock here for outdoor events like the Fourth of July Red Hot and Boom. A free summer jazz concert series presents monthly performances on the floating stage of the Eddie Rose Amphitheater. Tip: Don’t forget to bring bread to feed the ducks and turtles.
37 Dirksen Drive
Locals, travelers, and dogs alike love Gemini Springs for a quick romp outdoors. Take your pick from recreation amenities and activities: a nature trail, a bike trail, a boardwalk, canoeing, and a dog park. It’s quiet and peaceful—still kind of a best-kept secret, but it’s very popular with the dogs.
635 Primera Boulevard
Taking a complete approach to well-being, Holistic Options—which bills itself a health center and spa—has the facilities and practitioners to treat you with massage, facials and wraps, anti-aging procedures, and infrared saunas. Outside of these spa services, the facility offers acupuncture, Reiki, energy healing, and a host of other related techniques.