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Visiting State Parks local to Central Florida is one of my family’s favorite things to do.  This was our first adventure when we moved here and has since become a fun way to spend time together.  The State Parks in Orlando and its environs can offer natural springs, hiking, camping, swamps, beaches, and interpretive exhibits on local animals, insects, and amphibians. Orlando is a prime spot for easily accessing all kinds of parks and outdoor adventures. 

Some are in our backyard, while others are a great excuse for a day trip or a weekend to disconnect. So, pack your bug spray, sunscreen, and plenty of water and let’s get exploring what our State Parks have to offer!

Orlando State Parks

Here are 15 parks in and around Orlando to visit with the family.

things to do in longwood

Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park is simply beautiful.  Located 45 minutes from Orlando Blue Spring offers a constant 72 degree temperature making it a perfect summer spot for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing or kayaking (rentals are available at the park), and fishing. 

Blue Spring is the largest spring located on the St. Johns River and is also a designated Manatee Refuge.  Check out their campsites or cabins to rent for a weekend and enjoy the crystal clear water and hiking trails.  If you’re headed for a day trip, get there early, the park closes when it reaches capacity.

Location: 2100 W French Avenue Orange City FL 32763
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $6 per vehicle (limit of 8 people), $4 single-occupant vehicle, $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Dade Battlefield State Park

Dade Battlefield State Park is a National Historic Landmark that walks visitors through the history of the Second Seminole War.  Classes, hiking, bird watching, and picnicking are among visitors favorites at Dade Battlefield State Park.

Location: 7200 Battlefield Parkway Bushnell FL 33513
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset every day of the year. Visitor Center: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission Fees: $3 per vehicle for up to 8 people, $2 per additional person, $2 pedestrian and bicyclist

Related Post: Places to go Kayaking with Kids in the Orlando Area

De Leon Springs State Park

De Leon Springs State Park is not only known for it’s beautiful natural spring, but also it’s many layers of history.  This historic site allows you a stroll through the history of this land. At their visitors center take a look at artifacts, photo albums, and their touch table with bones and shells.

You can also enjoy a meal at the Sugar Mill Restaurant. The restaurant is located inside the replica building of the old sugar mill that was lost in the 1800’s.

De Leon Springs is full of exciting outdoor activities for the whole family, including that beautiful natural spring perfect for a cool swim.  

De Leon Springs State Park is located about an hour north of Orlando.

Location: 601 Ponce de Leon Blvd. De Leon Springs FL 32130
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $6 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $4 single-occupant vehicle,      $4 motorcycle, $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers 

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

The Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park also offers the beautiful trails for hiking, bird watching, and picnicking that we love about our parks in Florida.  This State Park stands out because it is also a sanctuary to wildlife that can’t survive on their own in the wild.  This gives us the opportunity to learn about these beautiful creatures through the parks tours and educational programs.  You can also enjoy the underwater webcam for highlights of the local manatees.

Location: 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. Homosassa FL 34446
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: Adults (age 13+) $13, Children (ages 6-12)  $5, Children 5 and under are free.

Lake Kissimmee State Park

If wildlife sightings without hiking too deep in nature is what you’re hoping for, look no further than Lake Kissimmee State Park.  Campers have been known to spot wildlife such as deer and wild turkeys.  Birding adventures can give way to even more wildlife such as bald eagles and sandhill cranes.

Enjoy a host of activities as you relax and disconnect from everyday life and soak in nature. Alligators, tortoises, and bobcats call Lake Kissimmee State park home as well.  Visit on the weekends to experience Cow Camp a live reenactment of life in 1876 as a cow hunter. 

Located an hour and a half from Orlando

Location:14248 Camp Mack Rd. Lake Wales FL 33898
Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Admission Fees:  $5 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $4 single-occupant vehicle,       $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

Related Post: Fun Places to go Tubing with Kids in Orlando

Lake Louisa State Park

Located only 35 minutes from Orlando, Lake Louisa State Park is the epitome of outdoor life in Central Florida.  Their Camping experiences vary from primitive, to family campground sites, cabins, or choose their glamping bell tent. 

Getting out to the great outdoors is easy with all of the activity options available to you at Lake Louisa State Park. I personally can’t wait to take my kiddos horseback riding on our next visit!

Location: 7305 U.S. Hwy 27 Clermont FL 34714
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $5 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $4 single-occupant vehicle,       $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park

While you will not find any swimming holes at Lower Wekiva River Preserve, but you will find nature in its purest form.  Explore this State Park by land or  by water at one of it’s 3 access points. Make sure to take plenty of water and supplies for this hike, you will be surrounded only by the beauty of nature and its wildlife. Camping is only available for those camping with horses.

Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: Honor Admission $3 per car with up to 8 people, $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

North Peninsula State Park

With the beach, marsh, and intercoastal in one park. How can you go wrong with a trip to North Peninsula State Park?  Enjoy an almost 3 mile oceanfront strip of undisturbed Florida Beach while sunbathing, shelling, or surf fishing.  Take a bicycle ride along the Ormond Scenic Loop or hike the Coastal Strand Trail.

*Even though you are on the beach, pack bug spray, this is still a state park after all.

Location: 40 Highbridge Rd Ormond by the Sea FL 32176
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: No fee Required

Rainbow Springs State Park

Located an hour and a half away on the west coast of Florida, Rainbow Springs State Park is a beautiful excuse for a day trip.  Hike their trails and marvel at their man made waterfalls, formed during the lands mining days and private ownership.  Tube down the river, or swim in the sapphire waters.  The activities and amenities at Rainbow Springs are perfect for a day or weekend away with your family.  

*Be sure to  plan ahead for this trip they reach capacity quickly and hours and closings change throughout the year. 

Location:19158 SW 81st Place Rd. Dunnellon FL 34432
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Fees: In an effort to reduce contact and ensure the safety of their visitors, they ask that all cash transactions be with exact change for their $2 per person entrance fee. They do accept major credit cards as well.

Related Post: Natural Springs Near Orlando 

Ravine Gardens State Park

Ravine Gardens is one of the farthest state parks from Orlando that I’ve listed.  However, it has to be mentioned because of its amazing beauty and the unique sites and treks that it offers for Florida hiking, bicycling, and driving.  A 1.8 mile paved road (open to cars and bicyclists) wraps around the gorgeous ravine. The road gives way to outlooks allowing you to sit a spell and enjoy the views of the gardens below.  The 2.5 mile hike along the Azalea Trail is strenuous with winding trails and natural obstacles such as root systems and historic stone steps. The beautiful gardens and experiences at Ravine Gardens State Park will make memories to last a lifetime. 

Location: 1600 Twigg St. Palatka FL 32177
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year
Admission Fee: $5 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $4 single-occupant vehicle,     $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Sebastian Inlet State Park is one of the best spots for outdoor activities. Located on 1,000 acres, Sebastian Inlet offers waves for surfing and calmer waters on the lagoon side for more relaxed swimming and wading.  The experiences offered to you provides you with the opportunity to be as adventurous or as relaxed as you would like, making it the epitome of what Florida outdoor life is all about. 

Location: 9700 South Highway A1A Melbourne Beach FL 32951
Hours:Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Admission Fees: $8 per vehicle up to 8 passengers, $4 single occupant vehicle, $2 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Admission Pass.

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs is the largest artesian spring in the world. It is also one of the first tourist attractions in Florida, with recorded visitors dating back to the 1870’s. Visitors can enjoy a glass bottom boat tour, kayaking, and numerous other activities while at Silver Springs State Park. 

Silver River Museum and Environmental Center remain closed due to Covid-19.

Location: 1425 N.E. 58th Ave. Ocala FL 34470
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $8 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $5 single-occupant vehicle,      $4 per vessel launch fee for personal canoe or kayak, $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

Tomoka State Park

Enjoy a peaceful day kayaking, fishing, hiking, or any of the other activities available to you at Tomoka State Park.  A day in nature in this park is sure to rejuvenate any visitor.  If learning more about local history is your thing, take a walk through time learning about the Timucuan Indian and the plantation that once stood here.

Location: 2099 North Beach Street Ormond Beach FL 32174
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $5 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle, $4 single-occupant vehicle,     $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weekie Wachee Springs State Park is one of Florida’s most popular state parks. Known for its iconic Mermaid Show and Buccaneer Bay it is also home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the country.  You are also able to go kayaking and paddleboarding at the springs. 

*Due to protecting visitors and staff during Covid-19 only the Kayak launch is open at this time. Check their website for reopenings. 

Location:6131 Commercial Way Weeki Wachee FL 34606
Hours: 9am to 5:30pm
Fees: $13 for adults and $8 for kids (kayak rentals are priced separately – see pricing here)

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of my family’s favorite parks to visit close to home.  Our first trip here was for a small hike to explore and get familiar with the park.  Since that time we have camped, hiked, and swam, and we have still only scratched the surface of what Wekiwa Springs State Park has to offer. 

We have also seen deer, beautiful butterflies, owls, and some pretty curious squirrels during our excursions. Make sure you plan to get there early.  The park fills up fast and they close it down when it reaches capacity.

Location: 1800 Wekiwa Cir. Apopka FL 32712
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days
Admission Fees: $6 per vehicle (limit of 8 people). $4 single-occupant vehicle.  $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Which of these state parks in Orlando or around Orlando do you most want to visit with the kids?

by Abby O’Connor