7 Amazing Hidden Gems In Orlando For Nature Enthusiasts

Hidden Gems In Orlando

When most people think of Orlando, they imagine theme parks and tall buildings. While you can certainly find plenty of those around, you can also find natural beauty if you know where to look.

Orlando and its environs are home to numerous hiking trails, local parks, and other secret spots just waiting to be discovered. Since the area is known for its year-round sunshine and warm weather, it’s the ideal environment for nature enthusiasts.

Our guide will unlock the secrets of central Florida that are waiting for those hardy souls brave enough to venture outside downtown Orlando. Let’s get started!

1) Discover Orlando’s Hidden Gems On An Unforgettable Kayak Tour

On a guided kayak tour, we’ll take a closer look at the hidden gems in Orlando that are worth visiting. Even repeat visitors to the Orlando area are bound to be impressed by these secret spots:

  • Blue Spring State Park

  • Rock Springs Run

  • Lake Norris

  • Black Water Creek

  • Indian River

  • Black Bear Wilderness Area

While you’re planning your stay, check out our comprehensive list of adventurous kayak tours. We’ll help you appreciate the lakes and hiking trails of the Orlando area from a fresh perspective.

2) Go Birdwatching On Lake Norris

At the Lake Norris Conservation Area, you have a better-than-average chance of spotting osprey. More than 100 active osprey nests have been counted in the cypress trees that cluster around the north shore of the lake.

Paddle a kayak up Blackwater Creek for an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience. In addition to osprey, you might also spot:

  • Alligators

  • Gopher tortoises

  • Snakes

  • Black bears

3) Get Wet And Wild At Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs isn’t exactly a hidden gem – it’s so popular that the park has been known to close to new arrivals on days of heavy attendance. But we would be remiss not to mention it because it offers some of the best opportunities for water sports and wildlife viewing in the Orlando region.

After a hike or horseback ride through the scenic trails, let the turquoise waters wash your cares away.

Camping is also available – plan ahead if you think you’d like to spend more than a day here. Embark on an unforgettable camping adventure and discover the finest campsites available:

  • Wekiwa Springs State Park Campground

  • Big Buck Camp

You won’t have to venture too far to discover Wekiva Island, home to some of the most amazing natural springs in the state. Set off in a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and get up close and personal with the local flora and fauna.

4) Uncover The Hidden Gem Of Lake Eola Park

You don’t even have to leave downtown Orlando to enjoy the wonders of this perfect spot. It’s right in the heart of the city, offering a trail that runs nearly a mile in length and encircles the scenic lake.

Here are a few activities you might enjoy during your visit to Lake Eola Park:

  • Admiring the live swans

  • Enjoying the colorful flower beds

  • Snapping photos of the Orlando skyline, especially at sunset

  • Taking a paddle in a swan-shaped boat

  • Attending a play or concert in the Walt Disney Amphitheater

5) Sample The Local Fare At Winter Park Farmers’ Market

When you stroll through the Winter Park Farmers’ Market in Central Park, you’ll feel like an honorary Florida resident. The market takes place from 8 AM to 1 PM every Saturday, but you’ll want to arrive early to have the first crack at all the tempting goods.

Whether you’re in the market for produce, baked goods, or gourmet dog treats, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

With its lively atmosphere and wide selection of vendors, the market offers a delightful experience for those seeking high-quality, locally sourced goods.

6) Take A Stroll Through The Audubon Park Garden District

If you find the overall Orlando experience to be a bit sanitized for your taste, the Audubon Park Garden District is here to answer your prayers. This is a haven for shopping and dining enthusiasts. Explore the district’s charming streets lined with unique boutiques, vintage shops, and local artisans, offering a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

When it comes to dining, indulge in a culinary journey with a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and food trucks, serving up delicious dishes from around the world. From trendy eateries to cozy cafes, Audubon Park Garden District has something to satisfy every palate.

Indulge in the finest boutiques, eateries, and cafes in the area:

  • East End Market – Wide selection of artisanal vendors all in one marketplace

  • Sushi Lola’s Restaurant – Serving up Japanese and Korean dishes

  • Bem Bom on Corrine Restaurant – Serving up Mexican and Portuguese dishes

  • Lobos Coffee Roasters – They roast the best quality coffees from seven different countries

7) Experience The Cultural Splendor Of Bok Tower Gardens

Since 1929, this site has been offering cultural and spiritual enrichment to anyone who’s lucky enough to visit. Bok Tower Gardens offers a serene escape from the bustling city, where visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and enjoy breathtaking views from the iconic Singing Tower. The tower alone, with its Gothic Revival structure and Art Deco detailing, would distinguish this spot.

But the bird sanctuary, musical events, and intriguing lectures are what keep visitors coming back for more. Explore the meticulously manicured gardens, take a peaceful stroll along the trails, and experience the enchanting melodies of the carillon bells for a truly unforgettable experience.

Let’s Head Off The Beaten Path!

Now that you know how much natural beauty there is to be found outside the theme parks, why not spend your next Orlando vacation admiring the lakes and native wildlife?

Stop by today and start exploring all the hidden gems Orlando has to offer! Get off the beaten path and book your kayak tours with us!

1 hour
Group Size
1 to 2

Private Instruction

We offer private lessons for those that want to work on their skill development.

6 to 8 hours
Group Size
1 to 5

Aca Skills Assessment- Level 2

The ACA Skill Assessment course is designed to evaluate a participant’s ability to perform all of the fundamental skills along with demonstrating an appropriate level of knowledge. This assessment course provides the participant with the opportunity to receive documentation of having achieved ACA’s Level 2 of paddling ability.

6 days
Group Size
2 to 5

Kayaking Essential

The Kayaking Essentials program continues where the Introduction to Kayaking course left off. We will refine your skills while introducing a few new strokes and the concept of edging. This 6-week course also covers advanced rescue techniques and foundational skills needed to advance to rolling class.

Completion of the Introduction to Kayaking program is not required. However, this is not an introductory course and students must demonstrate the necessary prerequisite skills.

The course concludes with a day paddle at Cape Canaveral National Seashore where you can put all you have learned into practice.

4 hours
Group Size
2 to 5

Flatwater Kayak Safety & Rescue

Our Flatwater Kayak Safety & Rescue course introduces essential flatwater safety practices and rescue techniques that can be performed with a minimum of equipment – in the first few minutes of an emergency. The course covers key self-rescue skills for different mobility levels, and kayak types as well as assisted rescues, rope handling skills, and more. The focus is on fast, simple, low-risk rescue techniques to manage minor in-water incidents.

4 hours
Group Size
2 to 5

Kayak Paddle Strokes & Safety Primer

Our Kayak Paddle Stroke & Safety Primer is a fast-paced training course offering the paddler the opportunity to learn and refine some of the most used paddle strokes and maneuvers.

Some of the strokes we will work on are: low brace, forward stroke refinement, reverse stroke, forward and reverse sweep, stern rudder, and sculling draw. In addition we will also go over the most used rescues: assisted T-rescue, and cowboy/cowgirl self-rescue and paddle float self-rescue.

6 to 8 hours
Group Size
1 to 5

Aca Skills Assesment - Level 1

The ACA Skill Assessment course is designed to evaluate a participant’s ability to perform all of the fundamental skills along with demonstrating an appropriate level of knowledge. This assessment course provides the participant with the opportunity to receive documentation of having achieved a ACA’s Level 1 of paddling ability.