Your romance is hot enough as it is! Before the oppressive heat of summer in Central Florida rolls in, head out to explore some of the best outdoor places and activities that Orlando has to offer.
Update note July 29, 2020: While we originally published this piece as a guide for outdoor activities to enjoy before summer is in full swing, we’ve updated it for couples searching for outdoors experiences that can be enjoyed safely. We’ve updated each listing below with extra details on safety measures or temporary closures where applicable. Stay safe and don’t forget to wear your mask, wash and sanitize your hands often, and practice social distancing.
1. Wekiva Island *private cabana rentals available
Wekiva Island offers tons of outdoor activities while serving as the ideal spot to relax along the river. Kayak, paddleboard, play beach volleyball, or pull up a chair at the outdoor bar or wine bar and listen to live music. Take advantage of all that Central Florida’s best swimming hole has to offer, including a refreshing dip in the spring-fed Wekiva River.
For a private experience, rent one of Wekiva Island’s cabanas for the afternoon. Weekends fill up fast, so reserve well in advance.
2. Long and Scott Farms
Once upon a time Central Florida was mostly farmland. Clearly, this has changed, but you can still find some thriving farms if you know where to look. Long and Scott Farms is located near Mount Dora, making it a great day trip. Start off the day with a visit to the farm where you can explore much of the grounds and enjoy fresh food from their cafe, plus take home fresh produce and other goods from their market. Then head to Mount Dora for some shopping and lovely scenery. Both the farm and the town are charming and full of fun photo opportunities.
3. Orlando Urban Trail
Orlando proudly bears the name The City Beautiful in part due to all the lovely parks and recreation sprinkled throughout the city. The Orlando Urban Trail weaves through some of Orlando’s best spots including Ivanhoe Village, Mead Gardens, and Loch Haven Park.
4. Leu Gardens
Leu Gardens is a lush, botanical garden with multiple pathways and picture-perfect spots. It’s also the gateway to Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District, a lovely little neighborhood teeming with cafes, bakeries, and a brewery. Visit the gardens during normal hours or check out the events calendar for outdoor movies, concerts, and more.
5. Kelly Park *tubing and swimming temporarily closed; trails and park open
Just about 30 minutes North of Orlando, Kelly Park is home to one of Central Florida’s best springs. It is a favorite among many for tubing along the free-flowing waters. There are picnic pavilions if you’d like to have a picnic with your sweetie as well as concessions if you want someone else to do the cooking. This park fills up quickly in the summer, so go now!
Note: Tubing and swimming are not currently allowed within Kelly Park, but you can still visit to picnic or take a hike along the trails. Rent a kayak from King’s Landing outside the park down the road if you’d like to paddle another section of the spring and stop for a quick dip.
6. Visit a Farmers Market
The weekly farmers market at Lake Eola (temporarily closed) is an Orlando must-do. You can snag great finds for your home, but also pick up produce and sample food from all of the unique food and beverage vendors too. Join the morning outdoor yoga class (Sundays at 11am) or walk around the entire lake while the weather is still pleasant.
Alternatively, head to charming downtown Winter Garden for the weekly Saturday Winter Garden Farmer’s Market. Hours are 8am-1pm in the summer months and 9am-2pm in the cooler months. You’ll find dozens of vendors selling fresh blooms, organic produce, sweets, and more. The market is currently open; masks are required.
7. See Art Orlando Walking Tour
One way to make sure you view the artistic highlights of Downtown Orlando is to embark on the See Art Orlando self-guided walking tour. Nine unique permanent art sculptures are located around Lake Eola and beyond. Maps can be picked up at the Downtown Orlando Visitors office or online.
8. The Black Hammock
Florida has many natural blessings, including hammocks, which are elevated areas among wetlands. Black Hammock in Seminole County is easily accessed from Central Florida yet feels worlds away. Soak up the scenery on a thrilling airboat ride at The Black Hammock followed by drinks at the Lazy Gator bar and fish camp eats at the onsite restaurant.
Back before Walt Disney World created a theme park empire in Orlando, Florida was home to many roadside and simple attractions. Gatorland harkens back to those days. A simple and fun attraction, you’ll find it’s easy to see all the exhibits and shows in the span of a stress-free afternoon. For extra adventure check out the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line!
10. Sanford Riverwalk + Dinner and Pub Crawl
Spring is a pleasant time of year to stroll along the St. Johns River at the scenic Sanford Riverwalk. You’ll enjoy a beautiful riverside stroll past sailboats, pontoon boats, and the historic St. Johns Rivership. After your walk, venture to 1st Street or Sanford Ave where you can hop around notable spots like The Tennessee Truffle, The Imperial, The Smiling Bison, Sanford Brewing Company, Wops Hops, Bitters & Brass, Deviant Wolfe Brewing, and more.
11. Kayak Tours
From rivers to lakes to breathtaking sparkling springs, there are so many waterways to explore in Central Florida. Tours through companies like Get Up and Go Kayaking, A Day Away Kayak Tours, and Peace of Mind Kayak Tours take the pressure off of trying to navigate on your own, making it a more relaxing date for you and your honey. Here are a few of our favorite seasonal tours.
12. Paddleboard Tours
It’s no surprise that stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a popular way to enjoy the waterways of Central Florida. Near Orlando, there is Paddleboard Orlando, a popular location offering guided tours and rentals throughout Central Florida in Winter Park and along the Wekiva River. Beginners can partake in a variety of tours on the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, or join an eco tour that includes time to take a dip in the spring-fed water or enjoy a hike along the Wekiva River. More experienced paddlers will love the Sunday Venetian Canal SUP tour exploring the scenic canals that link the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.
13. Horseback Riding *Private tour options
Horseback riding can be romantic and adventurous. You don’t have to journey too far to find horseback riding experiences in Central Florida. Try Hidden Palms Ranch in Sanford (private trail rides available) and Tri-Circle-D Ranch (temporarily unavailable) at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
14. The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park
Want to combine a lot of activities into one visit? The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park offers real Florida adventure amongst Central Florida’s natural beauty. Horseback riding, zip lining, wine and chocolate tours, and kayaking are just a few of the activities offered.
15. Revolution Off Road Adventures
In Clermont, you’ll find Revolution Off Road Adventures, which has one of the longest lists of adventurous experiences in all of Central Florida. You can drive a rugged ATV, fish, or try out archery and clay shooting. Alternatively, explore the wilderness on a tour of the 230-acre property in a Myakka 20-seater canopy truck with tree-top views or drive your own Mucky Duck, an 8-wheeled amphibious vehicle.
16. Zip Lining at the Central Florida Zoo
The Central Florida Zoo, located just off the St. Johns River in Sanford, it is a fun place to visit on its own, but located near the entrance is Seminole Aerial Adventures. You don’t have to pay admission to the zoo to visit this treetop park. The zip line is coupled with a ropes course among the beautiful treetops and there are options for all skill levels. Timed entry tickets are currently available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 10am and 1pm. Timed entry tickets are required in advance. Check out more places to zip line here.
17. Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
In Kissimmee, just past the attractions area, Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park offers a ropes course and zip lining for adults and kids. The courses get more challenging as you progress.
18. Rent a Boat at Walt Disney World *temporarily unavailable
Walt Disney World is more than theme parks. There are fantastic recreational options woven throughout the 47 square miles encompassing the Most Magical Place on Earth. Cruise the waterway between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, known as Crescent Lake. Or enjoy the tranquility of Bay Lake before heading to the famed Seven Seas Lagoon near the Magic Kingdom. There are three boat types available for rent including the cute little two passenger Sea Racers or a group-friendly pontoon boat.
19. Disney’s Oak Trail FootGolf Course
Leave it to Walt Disney World to take an existing golf course and change it up ingeniously. The Oak Trail 9-hole golf course now offers an 18-hole FootGolf course. Just like it sounds, FootGolf takes the precision of golf and combines it with soccer. This new activity is growing in popularity worldwide and is perfect for a double date.
FYI: there is a temperature screening checkpoint at entry. Reservation information and safety protocols may be reviewed at the link above.
20. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Perhaps Walt Disney World’s most lush theme park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is full of vegetation and natural wonders. It is because of this that visiting in the summer is a bit of a challenge thanks to high humidity. Avoid the high humidity of summer (and take advantage of the Discover Disney pass currently on offer for Florida residents). Be sure to take a stroll through the Maharajah Jungle Trek which is currently home to two baby tigers as well as the Pangani Exploration Trail currently home to a baby hippo – so cute!
21. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour
One of Central Florida’s longest running experiences (since 1938), the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is a must-do whether you’re new to Central Florida or have been here quite a while. During the leisurely pontoon boat ride, you’ll cruise along the Winter Park Chain of Lakes via picturesque canals connecting the lakes. Tours depart every hour from 10am-4pm. The tour is most enjoyable during the cooler months.
Note: Face masks are required. Boats are disinfected after each tour.
22. DeLeon Springs and Downtown DeLand
On the Northern edge of Central Florida in West Volusia County lie DeLeon Springs State Park and DeLand. Start your day at the state park making your own pancake breakfast at the Old Sugar Mill, take a boat tour, then wrap up your visit with a refreshing swim in the springs. Check the park website for the most current information; at the time of this update, swimming is open at reduced capacity and hiking trails are open.
Then head down the road to DeLand, home of one of the best main streets in the state. Enjoy lunch, a round of craft cocktails, or shopping in the many unique cafes, bars, and boutiques that line the main and side streets.
23. Swimming at Blue Spring State Park *swimming open at reduced capacity
Not to be confused with Blue Springs State Park in Marianna, Blue Spring State Park is in Northern Central Florida and is famous for the arrival of hundreds of graceful manatees every winter. Come spring the manatees move back out to coastal waters, but Blue Spring is still worth a visit for those that love to be in the water. The water is crystal clear and surrounded by natural beauty. Visit on a warm spring day before the summer crowds arrive.
24. Dine Around Hannibal Square
Hannibal Square is a hidden gem compared to the ever-popular Park Avenue. This compact corner of Winter Park packs plenty of restaurants and boutiques into one charming square. This makes it perfect for a progressive dinner experience, especially when dining alfresco in the mild spring weather. Consider starting at VINIA Wine & Kitchen for apps and the main course, and finish with French desserts at Chez Vincent. For a more casual experience, visit the original Pepe’s Cantina for tacos and tableside guacamole.
Don’t want to dine out? Consider picking up takeout from one of the local restaurants and enjoying it picnic-style in the nearby Shady Park.
25. Stroll Through Downtown Winter Garden
The booming popularity of Winter Garden is not surprising. This town once popular with snowbirds offers a very charming main street lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes each with their own unique charm.
26. West Orange Trail
The West Orange Trail was once railroad tracks and now it is 22 miles of recreational fun. The trail has multiple entrance points, but we love starting at Killarney Station and biking into downtown Winter Garden for a stop at Plant Street Market. Alternate route: start at Chapin Station and bike to the peaceful Buddhist Temple at the Apopka Vineland Road outpost.
27. Cross Seminole Trail
Th 23-mile Cross Seminole Trail spans across much of Seminole County. There are five trailheads/access points making it pretty convenient for a run, bike ride, or a scenic walk with your partner.
28. Self-Guided Mural Tour
Orlando’s colorful murals are fully accessible and always on display. We created a comprehensive Orlando Murals + Menus Full Day Art and Food Itinerary highlighting some of our favorite street art throughout the City Beautiful. If you’d rather set out to see what you can discover on your own, the Mills 50 District has dozens of murals within walking distance of one another.
29. Bok Tower Gardens
Beyond the attractions area at the gateway of Central Florida Lake Wales, a place that is home to one of Florida’s oldest and beautiful attractions. A visit to Bok Tower Gardens is a delightful experience both for the eyes and ears. The gardens are dazzling, especially in the spring, and pleasant music chimes from the carillon bells in the Singing Tower throughout the day. Bring a picnic (you can even bring in your own bottle of wine) or dine in the cute on-site cafe.
Note: Masks are required at the entry gate, when interacting with staff, and when indoors.
30. Buena Vista Water Sports at Paradise Cove
Lake Bryan is just five minutes from Walt Disney World. Rent jet skis, pontoon boats, kayaks, and paddleboards, or take wakeboard & waterski lessons with professional instructors at Buena Vista Water Sports. You can bring your doggy, too! When you rent or take lessons you also have access to the quiet beach area and beach volleyball.
31. Showcase of Citrus
Dive into a day exploring Florida’s signature fruit with a visit to a citrus farm. At Showcase of Citrus, you can enjoy the great outdoors and good old-fashioned fun including u-pick citrus, wine tasting, fishing, and the world’s largest 4×4 truck adventure.
32. Outdoor Movies *outdoor movies currently canceled; drive-in theaters are open!
Orlando is a premium spot for outdoor movies. Nearly every city in Central Florida has at least one location for viewing outdoor movies. Summer nights can get a little hot, so take advantage of spring weather and watch Hollywood flicks under a clear and cool evening sky. Here’s our year-round guide to outdoor movies.
Alternatively, hit up our nearest drive-in movie theater to catch screenings of classics and first-run movies.
33. Big Tree Park
Step back in time and walk along the boardwalk winding through the lush woods and hammock of Big Tree Park. Although the park’s main attraction, “Senator”–the oldest bald cypress tree in the world–was lost in 2012 to arson, there is still much to see and celebrate here including the Senator’s sister tree, “Lady Liberty”, an approximately 2,000-year-old Bald Cypress Tree. The park is also a trailhead for the 23-mile Cross Seminole Trail.
34. UCF Arboretum
Nestled alongside UCF’s bustling campus is a peaceful arboretum. You don’t have to be a student to take advantage of this haven for nature lovers. Anyone can visit the nature trails or schedule a tour. If you’re into Geocaching (which is a great thing to do as a couple) you’ll have a great time exploring the arboretum.
35. Lukas Nursery
Lukas Nursery is more than just a place to pick up beautiful flowers for your garden, it is a lovely place for a scenic stroll and offers a butterfly encounter. Admission to the Butterfly Encounter is $6/person.
Feature image credit: The Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Tours