Are your kids a fan of the great outdoors? Or has your family been spending too much of their summer in front of a TV screen? If you live in Florida or plan to visit the Orlando area, you’re in luck — the Sunshine State is home to hundreds of beautiful state parks.
No matter where you go, you’ll get to experience the nature of Florida to its fullest. But each park has unique opportunities, so make sure to consider what will be best for your kids.
Visit for one day, or stay overnight – whatever you choose, there’s a wonderful experience waiting for you. Here are some of the best state parks near Orlando!
- Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Rock Springs Run State Reserve
- Bill Frederick Park
- Moss Park
- Lake Louisa State Park
- Little Big Econ State Forest
- Hontoon Island
- Blue Spring State Park
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- Silver Springs State Park
- North Peninsula State Park
- Lake Griffin State Park
- Dade Battlefield State Park
- Lake Kissimmee State Park
- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
- Rainbow Springs State Park
- Sebastian Inlet State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Orlando.
To see the wilderness this park has to offer, you can go for a hike through their many miles of park trails. And if you aren’t in a walking mood, you can ride your bicycle or even go horseback riding on these paths!
Bring along a camera, because you’re likely to get a good view of Florida’s wildlife here. Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises, white-tailed deer, birds of varying species, bobcats, and even black bears!
As the name suggests, this park is also great for water activities. You can go swimming, snorkeling, or canoeing in this park’s crystal-clear water.
The main park is open from 8 am to sundown, but you can stay overnight at one of their campsites. This park’s activities are enough to fill up a whole weekend, so for the best experience, make sure you pack some extra clothes and bring a tent or an RV. It’s also pet-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about leaving your furry friend at home.
Rock Springs Run State Reserve
Rock Springs Run State Reserve can give your family an experience that they’ll remember for years to come. Animal-loving kids in particular will have a great time at this reserve.
See the beauty of Florida on one of their guided tours. If your kids are six or older, you can enjoy your tour on the backs of their well-trained horses.
This state park is full of stunning wildlife, too. Bring your binoculars and keep an eye out for scrub-jays, cranes, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes, and black bears.
Other activities include geo-seeking, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing! You can bring your pets to this park, too — just make sure to keep them on a leash at all times.
Rock Springs opens at 8 am and closes at sundown, so be sure to plan your activities accordingly. For multiple days of outdoor fun, you can stay overnight at one of their campsites.
Bill Frederick Park
Bill Frederick Park has plenty of opportunities for recreational activities. Whether you stay for a single day or a whole weekend, you can expect to leave with happy memories.
This park has pavilions, gazebos, grills, and public restrooms, making this a great place to host an event — just make your reservation beforehand.
There are also designated areas for drone flying, fishing, canoe rentals, volleyball, and camping. There are miles of trails available for hiking, so make sure to put on some good walking shoes!
And if you stop by on a scorching summer day, their lake is very clean and great for swimming. They also have a swimming pool that’s accessible for people with disabilities!
This park is open from 8 AM to 7 PM, so you’ll have plenty of time to make the most of your visit. And if you feel like one day isn’t enough, you can stay overnight at one of their camping grounds.
Looking for a simple summertime getaway? At Moss Park, there are plenty of outdoor activity opportunities that will put a smile on your children’s faces.
Enjoy a day of canoeing or fishing in this beautiful park, and have a meal at one of their many picnic areas.
Kids of all ages will enjoy the playgrounds and volleyball areas. Animal-lovers will enjoy the variety of beautiful wildlife that roam their hiking trails.
Call ahead of time to book your reservation! You can come in a small group or rent out a pavilion for a big summertime party. The park is open from 8 AM to 8 PM in the summer, and 8 AM to 6 PM in the winter.
Lake Louisa State Park
With a beautiful view of Lake Louisa, your family will surely have a good time at this historic state park.
You’re likely to come across Florida’s vast wildlife on their hiking trails. From the little squirrels to the big bobcats on the ground, to the bald eagles soaring in the skies, you will want to bring along your binoculars.
The trails are excellent for biking, and even if you forgot to bring your own, you can rent one at the Dixie Lake Picnic Area.
Other activities include geo-seeking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and more!
The park is open from 8 AM to sundown. If one day isn’t enough, you stay overnight at one of their camping sites.
Little Big Econ State Forest
The scenery and wildlife at Little Big Econ State Forest are truly stunning. You and your kids will enjoy the many opportunities this park has to offer!
Bring along some walking shoes and go for a hike on their 16 miles of trails. While you’re there, you can admire the beauty of the Econlockhatchee River. Their trails are suitable for horseback riding and biking, too!
Are you a family of hunters? Luckily for you, this park allows hunting in select areas during hunting season. Or, you can catch some catfish, bass, and other big fish in their rivers.
Make sure to stop by the visitor center on weekdays, too. If you browse their educational exhibits, you’ll get to learn a little more about the park’s history and wildlife.
This state park is perfect for families who love water activities!
As the name suggests, Hontoon Island is completely surrounded by water. You’ll need to ride a park ferry or a private boat to get there, so this park may not be the best option for kids who are prone to seasickness.
Once you’ve reached the island, you can enjoy fishing, canoeing, and other water-related activities. And if you don’t have a boat of your own, you can always rent one on the island.
This park is open from 8 am until sunset, which is plenty of time to enjoy the park. But if you want a multi-day trip, you can pitch a tent at their primitive campsites or reserve a cabin.
Blue Spring State Park
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, Blue Spring State Park is a great place to go. It’s open from 8 AM to sundown, so show up early to make the most of your stay.
Have your kids always wanted to see a manatee? This park is home to plenty of them, so there is a good chance you may come across one of these beautiful creatures on their guided boat tours.
You can also enjoy water activities such as swimming, diving, and canoeing. If you need somewhere to rest, you can relax at one of their picnic areas or playgrounds.
Because manatees are a protected species, they have quite a few limits on their water activities. Fishing is only allowed at the dock near St. John’s River, and you are only permitted to swim, dive, and canoe in select areas.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Do your kids love mermaids? If so, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park may be a dream come true.
Kids will also love their interpretive exhibit, which allows an educational look at Florida’s wildlife — including alligators and snakes.
After a day of fun activities, you can relax at one of their picnic areas or even stop by their concessions for a meal.
This atmospheric park is great for birthday parties. You can also use it to host family events and even weddings!
Silver Springs State Park
The beautiful, clear waters of Silver Springs State Park can make a wonderful vacation spot for you and your kids.
If your family is a fan of water activities, the waters in this park are perfect for canoeing. You can even take a tour on one of their glass-bottom boats, which can give you a stunning view of the ocean life below.
If you go for a hike through their trails, you can experience the fascinating wildlife that makes their homes in this park. From fluffy squirrels to scaly alligators, the creatures in Silver Springs will put a smile on any animal-loving child’s face.
And if you’re looking for an educational trip, you can take a tour through their Silver River Museum. You’ll learn about the geology, paleontology, and other intriguing aspects of this historic region.
North Peninsula State Park
Make sure to bring your swimsuits and sunscreen when visiting North Peninsula State Park, because it’s home to miles of beautiful beaches.
If your kids are collectors, it’s the perfect place to look for shells, sand dollars, and other treasures.
This park is also home to a wide variety of birds, including scrub-jays and pelicans. Families who enjoy birding will want to bring along their binoculars and cameras.
You may come across some tortoises or white-tailed deer, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a Florida bobcat.
Other activities include surfing, fishing (make sure you have a license!), and guided tours. It’s open from 8 AM until sundown, so you can show up bright and early.
Lake Griffin State Park
There’s a lot to experience at this 620-acre park, so you’ll want to pack up and stay overnight to get the full experience!
If you own a boat, you can go paddling through the calm waters of Lake Griffin. Alternatively, you can go on one of their many guided tours.
No matter which option you go with, you’ll still get to experience the beauty of this state park — and even witness some of the beautiful wildlife that calls it home.
If you have a fishing license, you can catch catfish, crappies, and much more at designated spots in Lake Griffin. They even offer wheelchair-accessible fishing, so you can ensure that nobody on your trip feels left out.
Most of all, you can witness the second-largest oak tree in Florida. At around 400 years old, it is truly a sight to behold.
Other activities include geo-seeking and hiking. You can show up at 8 AM and leave at sundown, or stay overnight at one of their campsites.
Dade Battlefield State Park
Want a glimpse into America’s history? Dade Battlefield Historic State Park is a perfect opportunity to learn about Dade’s Battle of 1835.
Stop by their interpretive exhibit to learn more about this intriguing piece of United States history. Their museum is full of remnants of the Date Battle. It even has a short film you can view for free.
History isn’t the only thing this park has to offer; other activities include geo-seeking, birding, tours, and hiking.
Overall, your kids can have a fun yet educational experience at this park. If you want to keep their brains in learning mode throughout their summer break, this is a great way to do it.
The park is open from 8 AM to sundown. If you’d like to stay for more than one day, you can stay overnight at one of their cozy lodges.
Lake Kissimmee State Park
Lake Kissimmee State Park is a fun way to help your kids learn about Florida’s history.
Their interpretive exhibit will teach you about the cow hunting experience of the 1800s. You’ll get to learn about how cow hunters lived their lives and hear stories of this intriguing part of Florida’s history.
Lake Kissimmee State Park also offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities. There are miles of trails for you to walk, bike, or even horseback ride through. Keep some binoculars on hand, because this area is great for birding.
You can also go fishing in designated areas, enjoy geo-seeking, boat through the waters of Lake Kissimmee, and even stay overnight in their many acres of campsites.
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs is one of the best state parks near Orlando for animal-loving kids!
At this state park, you can go for a stroll through their miles of paved trails. These trails include elevated boardwalks for people with mobility aids. As you make your way through the park, you’ll come across many of Florida’s native birds.
You can observe both wild and captive wildlife at this state park. Stop by the Fish Bowl Underwater Observatory to see the adorable fish and manatees up close!
Other captive animals at this park include flamingos, red wolves, and even hippos. You’ll want to bring your camera along for this trip.
After a long day of hiking and seeing the beautiful creatures of Florida, you can relax at one of their picnicking areas or pick up a meal at one of their concessions.
The park opens at 9 AM and closes at 5:30 PM. Don’t forget to stop by their gift shop on your way out!
Rainbow Springs State Park
If your kids love to swim, they’re sure to enjoy the beautiful, crystal-clear waters of Rainbow Springs. This is one of the best state parks near Orlando for water-related activities.
If you’re staying for a multi-day trip, be sure to reserve a spot at their camping ground. There’s also a playground on the campsite, so even during downtime, your kids will have something fun to do.
As you hike through their trails, you can see the beautiful waterfalls and nature this state park has to offer.
You can enjoy snorkeling, tubing, canoeing, and swimming at the springs. At roughly 72 degrees regardless of the season, it’s the perfect temperature for all water activities.
Bear in mind that they do not have a lifeguard at the springs, so keep an eye on your children at all times.
The park is open from 8 AM to sundown, so show up early to make the most of your visit!
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is the perfect vacation spot for kids who love water activities.
From surfing to scuba diving, there’s sure to be something your kids will enjoy.
Or if you want something more low-key, you can go paddling through the Indian River Lagoon.
This park also offers guided tours, which can ensure that you get the best experience of the nature and wildlife this state park has to offer.
If you’re in for a multi-day trip, you can spend a night at their campground. Whether you pitch a tent or park your RV, you’ll have easy access to the rest of the park as well as free WiFi!
As you settle in for the night, you can relax and gaze at the stars. This location is ideal for spotting constellations, especially on clear nights, so you may want to bring along a telescope.
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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