Although most people who take vacations in the United States have likely found themselves in Orlando, Fl at one time or another, few venture past the city’s many dazzling theme parks. Although a trip to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando will be fun for the whole family, these well known Orlando tourist locations could very well be distracting from some of Orlando’s other beautiful and charming destinations.
Today, we’ll take a break from discussing Orlando SEO services and talk about some must-visit locations in and around Orlando FL, for those looking to take a break from the busy touristy theme parks.
Best Orlando Secret Spots
1. Wekiwa Springs State Park, Orlando
Especially for tourists not used to extreme heat, on Florida’s hottest days it can feel almost impossible to be outdoors unless you are swimming. Most travelers will take this opportunity to seek out themed water parks, completely unaware of the beautiful, natural swimming locations within a few miles of downtown Orlando. Wekiwa Springs is certainly one of Orlando’s best kept local secrets, that is perfect for everyone of every age and interest on those unbearably hot days.
Drive 20 minutes north of Orlando to be greeted by the perfect tropical swimming hole, a slice of paradise in the middle of the Longwood suburb’s lush forests. On the year’s hottest days you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking in Wekiva Springs’ crystal-turquoise waters, and on cooler days, you can enjoy the park’s other activities, such as hiking, cycling and horsebacking trails.
Although Wekiwa Springs is perfect for a day away from the bustling city in Orlando FL, if you want to spend a little more time enjoying the jaw dropping natural sights at Wekiwa, you can spend the night at the park’s campsites. They have restrooms with showers, water and electrical hook-up, and a fire ring with grill.
2. Hidden Palms Ranch, Orlando FL
Animal lovers who would rather experience the animals from up close rather than behind walls at theme park’s zoos should pay a visit to the Hidden Palms Ranch in Orlando FL. Located about 30 minutes away from downtown Orlando, Hidden Palms Ranch in Florida’s Seminole County is a perfect place to get away from the busy bustling tourists downtown and unwind in nature with some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.
Hidden Palms Ranch, Orlando is a family-owned ranch that offers horseback riding adventures to people of all ages and experience levels. For those who are unfamiliar with horseback riding, Hidden Palms Ranch offers the Horse Experience which is a one-on-one lesson about all things horses, making it a perfect educational gift for any horse-loving child.
For those who have some experience with horseback riding, you can take one of the ranch’s seven beloved horses on a guided experience on a picturesque trail. While riding your horse through the magical-looking Lake Jesup Conservation Area, you will be able to see some of Florida’s unique flora and fauna, with some likely sightings of the state’s numerous eagles, osprey, hawks and other birds of prey. It’s truly a hidden gem not to be missed.
3. Blue Spring State Park
In Orange City, around 45 minutes north of Orlando, is the Blue Spring State Park which features gorgeous tropical hanging vegetation, crystal clear waters and best of all, manatees.
Before the creation of Blue Spring State Park in Orlando FL, the spring that now runs through the park contained only a couple manatees. Thankfully, within 50 years of conservation efforts made by the Florida State Park, the population grew to over 500 manatees.
Although you can see manatees all year long at theme park’s aquariums and zoos in Orlando, in the winter at Blue Spring State Park, you will have a unique opportunity to see manatees in their natural habitat.
From a boardwalk running along the spring, visitors can safely watch the manatees swimming and socializing with one another in the crystal clear blue-green waters, without disturbing the incredible creatures’ natural activities at all.
If your goal is to see manatees, it is best to check the park’s website before you visit to ensure the manatees are around during that season. However, if you happen to visit and they aren’t there, there is still plenty to enjoy at Blue Spring State Park. Hike through some of Florida’s beautiful, tropical forests along the spring, rent a canoe or kayak to travel through the gorgeous crystal clear waters, or better yet, rent some scuba gear and swim where the manatees do.
4. Enjoy a Drink at a few of Orlando’s Unique Bars
Although many people travel to Orlando to visit the theme parks with their family, 21+ locals know that Orlando has one of the most unique bar scenes out there that is definitely worth checking out if you are visiting with other adults or if you can have a night away from the kids.
For an example of Orland’s eclectic and unique bar scene, look no further than Hanson’s Shoe Repair, which was a once historic shoe repair shop opened by Andrew Hanson in 1894. Although it may still look like a shoe repair store from the outside, if you check Hanson’s Shoe Repair’s twitter to unlock the needed password, you can get into downtown Orlando’s hidden speakeasy.
For a bar on the opposite end of the historical spectrum, you should visit Player 1 Video Game Bar. This unique bar is located in a strip mall, but despite the rather unassuming outer appearance, when you step inside to Player 1 Video Game Bar, you will be greeted by a classic 1980s or 90s arcade, equipped with games, neon lights, and cosplayers.
Although this beer bar may make you feel as if you are stepping back into your childhood, Player 1 Video Game Bar is very much intended for adults, so pay the $5 cover charge and enjoy the bar’s selection of beers, sakes, meads, and wines.
Whether you are visiting the Central Florida city with family, friends or on your own, Orlando is an incredible destination filled with just about anything a tourist could be looking for. While you could very well spend your whole trip happily at Disney World theme park, beach or down the city shopping strip, to get a true understanding of Orlando’s beauty and charm, you should definitely take a day to hit up some of these Orlando secret spots and discover your very own hidden gem.