The Best State Parks Near Orlando
Do you love exploring state parks? If you do, you’ll definitely want to learn about the best state parks near Orlando!
Here at Florida Travel with Kids, we love State Parks! You can do many other things inside the best state parks near Orlando. The warm weather makes it possible to visit these state parks in Orlando any day of the year.
The best part is the parks aren’t crowded, and visiting one is an excellent way to escape the crowds Orlando is known for.
If you are in the area soon, keep reading. I will share some information about all the best state parks near Orlando.
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Best State Parks Near Orlando
Here are the best state parks near Orlando, in no particular order!
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of the best state parks near Orlando for kids. This park is approximately 20 minutes to the north of Orlando.
Your family will love hiking the trails in this tropical paradise. History is abundant in this park. The Timucuan Indians used to fish in the Wekiva River. You can rent a kayak or canoe and head out on the river. A stand-up paddleboard tour is another fun option.
Photo is property of Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Relaxing is possible at the springs. Divers will want to find a tree to jump from. This will allow them to dive into Wekiva’s lagoons.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park is a little further from Orlando. The car ride will take you approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. However, this gorgeous park makes the drive worth it.
During your visit, you can check out stunning blue water, plus man-made waterfalls. Add in the ornamental gardens, and you might think you are in the most beautiful destination in the world.
There is so much to do at this state park. Your family can ride in a tube down the river. You can rent glass-bottom kayaks, which is fun for the whole family. But, of course, you won’t want to forget about hiking the trails, snorkeling, and checking out the wildlife.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is another one of the best state parks near Orlando. This state park is to the southeast of the city. It will take you approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive there.
This is the best park for surfing. Everyone is encouraged to catch a few waves, especially at First Peak or Monster Hole.
You can swim or hang out on the shoreline if your family doesn’t want to surf. Fishing is also a popular activity at this state park. However, I recommend keeping your eyes on the water. It is possible to see dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles from the shore.
History lovers will want to check out the McLarty Treasure Museum or the Sebastian Fishing Museum. They will both take your family back in time. Sebastian Inlet State Park is also one of the best places to see sea turtles in Florida.
Bill Frederick Park
Bill Frederick Park is about a 20-minute drive to the west of Orlando. This low-key park is on Turkey Lake. It is a wonderful place to visit to become one with nature. It is not actually a state park but a city park in Orlando. However, it’s still worth mentioning since it’s so close to the city and a great place to relax.
Moss Park is a 30-minute drive from Orlando. There are 1,551 acres of land to explore. This park is between Lakes Hart and Mary Jane. That means plenty of water adventures for your family!
You can take a boat out onto one of the lakes. Hike the trails. Take a bike ride along a path. The possibilities are endless at this state park near Orlando.
There is a downside to visiting Moss Park, no pets are allowed.
Rock Springs Run State Reserve
Rock Springs Run State Reserve is about a 40-minute drive north of Orlando. This is a wonderful park to visit if you want to see Florida’s wildlife. Cranes and scrub jays are everywhere in this park. You can also spot black bears and gopher tortoises. Make sure you keep your distance and give these wild animals their space.
There are plenty of opportunities to check out the wildlife while doing other activities. First, take a guided horseback ride along the 17 miles of trails. Then, hike one of those trails. Geocaching is also popular.
One thing you cannot do at Rock Springs Run State Reserve is accessed the Wekiva River.
Lake Kissimmee State Park
About 1 hour and 30 minutes to the south of Orlando is Lake Kissimmee State Park. There is an infamous oak tree within this park. You will definitely want to get a few selfies with it during your visit.
The lake brings boating and canoeing, as well as fishing opportunities. The 13 miles of trails are perfect for hiking and checking out the native wildlife. A large picnic area is an ideal spot for lunches and snacks. Or a quick break from all the fun you are having.
Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area
The Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area is approximately 30 minutes east of Orlando. You will discover during your drive that this area is near Christmas, Florida. You can easily check two destinations off your list in a single day!
There are 60 miles of trails here. The trails can be used by hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. So keep that in mind and plan your family adventure carefully.
When you get tired, hop into one of the hammocks for a little nap. Or check out one of the many vistas.
Lake Louisa State Park
A quick 30-minute drive to the west of Orlando will have your family enjoying time at Lake Louisa State Park. There are three lakes within this park. They are Lakes Dixie, Hammond, and Louisa.
Your family will love paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking on any of these lakes.
Photo is property of Lake Louisa State Park.
There are also 20 miles of unpaved roads and 7 miles of paved roadways, so you’ll have a few hiking and biking options during your visit.
This is easily one of the best state parks near Orlando, and you will be thrilled with the chance to see the wildlife. Bald eagles fly through the air. Bobcats and deer run through the woods. Tortoises spend lots of time near the water.
There are plenty of different plants in this state park too. Hopefully, you will take the time to stumble upon a few of the 11 different plant communities.
Highlands Hammock State Park
The Highlands Hammock State Park is the best state park near Orlando for hiking trails. You must drive 1 hour and 30 minutes south of Orlando to reach this park.
There are nine hiking trails, plus a boardwalk. They will all have your family wandering through a cypress swamp area. It is common to see black bears and panthers below the hydric hammock oak trees.
Silver Springs State Park
You will find Silver Springs State Park northwest of Orlando. It is about a 1 hour and 30-minute drive. One of the favorite things to do at this state park is rent glass-bottom canoes. It is a wonderful way to check out the underwater world.
Your family can wander around the historical sites. This area used to be a steamship port, and you can learn all about that during your visit. Don’t forget to visit the spectacular gardens as well.
Colt Creek State Park
Colt Creek State Park is about 1 hour and 10 minutes southwest of Orlando. The 5,000 acres contain 15 miles of hiking trails.
As you hike those trails, you may spot American alligators, otters, and deer. Birds and butterflies can also be seen flying around.
Little Big Econ State Forest
A short 30-minute drive to the east of Orlando will have your family at Little Big Econ State Forest. This state park near Orlando used to be an indigenous area. It is now full of historical and archaeological sites.
You will go through lush forests and soggy marshes as you hike the preserved trails. I recommend hiking along the Econlockhatchee River to check out the different ecosystems. Besides the ecosystems, you may spot bald eagles, alligators, foxes, and wood storks.
Hunting is allowed at this state park near Orlando. When visiting during hunting season, it is best to wear bright orange.
Blue Springs State Park
Blue Springs State Park is approximately a 45-minute drive north of Orlando. An annual manatee festival takes place at this best state park near Orlando every January. I recommend keeping that in mind when planning your visit. It is a festival you won’t want to miss!
Due to many manatees in the water from November through March, no one else is allowed in the water during those times. However, your family can canoe or kayak at any other time of the year. Along with Homosassa Springs State Park (mentioned below), this one is one of the 12 best places to see manatees in Florida.
If you don’t want to spend time on the water, your family can always hike the trails in the park.
Lake Griffin State Park
Approximately 1 hour to the northwest of Orlando is Lake Griffin State Park. This state park near Orlando is known for its scenery and massive oak trees. The trees near the entrance have been there for almost 400 years.
Paddling along the Dead River until it turns into Lake Griffin is one of the most popular activities at this state park near Orlando. Guided pontoon boat tours are also available if you don’t want to navigate the river alone.
Kids can take a class to learn how to fish. Then, you can all enjoy a picnic lunch under the trees.
This is one of the best parks for spending time outdoors in the Florida sunshine!
De Leon Springs State Park
De Leon Springs State Park is about 1 hour north of Orlando. The Timucuan Indians called this park, Acuera or Healing Waters. You will quickly learn why once you experience the natural springs for yourself.
History has been preserved at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant. You can eat a delicious breakfast while planning the rest of your day.
I recommend taking one of the 50-minute boat rides. It will allow your family to see manatees and alligators in the wild.
North Peninsula State Park
North Peninsula State Park is another park about 1 hour away from Orlando. This is the best state park near Orlando to visit if you want to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. A day on the beach may be precisely what your family needs during your vacation in Florida.
When you tire of the sand, you can walk on the trails. Keep an eye out for turtles and all the birds native to Florida.
Hontoon Island State park
A quick 50-minute drive will get you closer to Hontoon Island from Orlando. However, you must take a ferry, or private boat, to this state park.
Photo is property of Hontoon Island State Park/Florida State Parks.
This state park near Orlando is the perfect place to truly get away from it all. The island is rustic and full of history.
Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park
A quick 1-hour drive to the east from Orlando will have you at Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park in no time at all. This state park near Orlando is near Cocoa Beach. It is another excellent option if you want to check multiple destinations off your list in one day.
This park is full of beaches, playgrounds, kayaking tours, and walking tours. In addition, this is another state park that will allow you to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. So, if you want to relax in the sand one day while the kids swim, this is the best state park for your family.
Dade Battlefield State Park
Dade Battlefield State Park is about a 1-hour drive from Orlando. The history of the Second Seminole War can be learned while exploring this state park.
You can take a ranger-led class during your visit. A favorite activity is hiking the trails throughout the park.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Your family can reach this state park near Orlando during a 1 hour and 45-minute drive. This state park is a sanctuary for wildlife that can’t survive out in the wild.
Your family can learn more about the wildlife in this park during park tours and educational programs. I also recommend hiking at least one of the trails during your visit.
Tomoka State Park
Tomoka State Park is about 1 hour and 20 minutes northeast of Orlando. This state park used to be a plantation. The Timucuan Indians also lived there.
You can learn all about that history during your visit. Or you can choose to hike the trails or do a little kayaking.
The best state parks near Orlando
These are the best state parks near Orlando. Which state park near Orlando is your favorite? Make sure to let me know in the comments!
For more things to do in Orlando, check out some of our best Orlando blog posts:
- Things to do in Orlando for Christmas
- The Best Instagram Spots at Universal Orlando
- 7 things to buy at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The best strawberry farms in Florida
- The best food at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- 50 Things to do at Hollywood Studios
- 25 Free Things at Disney World
- Where to find Dole Whip at Disney World
- The 20 Best Beaches near Orlando for Families
About Florida Travel With Kids
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