Best State Parks Near Orlando, Florida

10 Best State Parks near Orlando, FL to Check Out This Season

When it comes to activities, Orlando is often nearly synonymous with one thing: theme parks. More specifically, the city is known as the home to Disney World and maybe not much else. We handpicked best state parks near Orlando, that deserve as much attention as DW.

However, Florida’s natural topography and warm climate lend itself to having created many wonderful state parks. These parks are perfect for tourists looking for a more slow-paced experience away from crowds as well as locals looking for an interesting getaway from the hustle and bustle.

Thanks to Florida’s warm climate, many of these parks are accessible year-round and offer a variety of great activities for the whole family. From trail hiking to kayaking and more, the state parks of central Florida are stand out and must-see attractions that are often overlooked in favor of their more commercial theme park counterparts.

Rich with Native American history and featuring amazing wildlife, Orlando does state parks like no other state.

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Wekiwa Springs State Park – Best for Kids!

  • 20 minutes from Orlando,
  • direction: NORTH

Wekiwa Springs may hands-down be the most popular state park among Central Floridians.

Nearly 30 minutes out from Orlando, a drive of any length is more than worth it to get to this natural wonder.

Visitors are able to rent kayaks or canoes and explore the historical Wekiva River where the Timucuan Indians themselves once fished. Visitors looking for a more relaxing experience will be able to luxuriate in the springs or find the perfect tree to launch themselves off of and dive into one of Wekiva’s beautiful lagoons.

Meanwhile, those looking to hit the pavement will likely enjoy hiking or biking down Wekiwa’s scenic trails, or even enjoy some casual horseback riding.

The grounds offer camping facilities for those looking to ditch the hotels on International Drive, giving visitors a more truly authentic Floridian experience.

Wekiwa is a lushly tropical paradise, and visitors will likely forget the busy city is a mere car ride away.

Bill Frederick Park

  • 20 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: WEST

Bill Frederick Park in Florida encompasses 183 acres fronting Turkey Lake. The park offers scenic views of nature at its finest. There are a variety of recreational activities, including fishing, camping, picnicking, and more. There is a pool on the property.

Nature lovers choose the campgrounds at Bill Frederick Park because the accommodations are modern and family friendly. Wi-Fi is available in the campgrounds as well as laundry facilities and outhouses. The park is located only minutes from all of the Orlando attractions making it a popular destination for large and small groups, families and visitors to the region seeking an alternative to traditional hotel lodging.

It is fast and easy to book a reservation at Bill Fredrick Park. You can reserve a spot in the campgrounds on the park’s website. Everything you need to know, including your reservation confirmation and fee schedule, is viewable and printable online.

Moss Park

  • 30 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: South/East

Moss Park‘s 1,551 acres of beauty are just 15 miles southeast of downtown Orlando while 54 spots for tent and RV camping are offered here for those who want to stay overnight. The park is also situated between Lake Hart and Lake Mary Jane, which provide plenty of boating and other water-related activities in addition to the park’s dry-land hiking and biking opportunities.

The cost to take advantage of one of those spots ranges from $3 to $23, depending on the type of accommodations and if the renter is an Orange County resident. Each of its campsites offers electric, water, grills, picnic tables and fire rings amidst the park’s tall pine trees.

For those just staying here for a day, take into account that it opens at 8 a.m. throughout the year and closes at 8 p.m. during the summer months and at 6 p.m. in the winter. The cost to enter is $1 for those walking or bicycling in and between $3-$5 for those taking their vehicle onto the grounds.

Amongst this park’s features that is a favorite for many is its easy access to incredible wildlife, such as deer and raccoons. With that said, note that you cannot bring your own animals – i.e. pets.

Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area

  • 30 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: EAST

Located near Christmas, Florida, and just off of the St. John’s river, Tosohatchee is a great trail for wilderness explorers. Featuring winding creeks as well as expansive trails, perfect for horseback riding, biking, and hiking, one feels as though they could lose themselves in the park.

Visitors won’t lose themselves, of course, as the park’s trails are clearly and safely marked. Visitors can feel free to relax in a hammock or one of the park’s many open vistas, perfect for any outdoor activities they may find themselves engaged in.

Featuring over a whopping 60 miles of trails, this park is for the serious trekker. This is also a great spot for fishing, as the park boasts a wide selection of natural Floridian wildlife.

Those most interested in trails and getting up and moving will likely enjoy Tosohatchee most of all, as the area’s impressive trails are a major point of pride for the park.

Lake Louisa State Park

  • 30 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: WEST
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Known as one of central Florida’s “natural theme parks”, visitors to Lake Louisa will have as much fun as they allow themselves to. Holding three major lakes, the area utilizes biodiversity to its advantage.

Lakes Louisa, Hammond, and Dixie allow for paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing. Bordering the critical conservation effort Green Swamp Area, as well as Lake Wales Ridge, Lake Louisa is a perfect and safe intersection of some of the most interesting wildlife species seen in Florida.

Home to animals such as the ever-present osprey, bald eagles, tortoises, bobcats, deer, and more, visitors will likely be amazed at the company they keep in this park.

Lake Louisa is also a must-visit for flora and fauna enthusiasts. Home to 11 natural plant communities, the wide variety of wildlife that works to support these creatures is truly astounding.

The park features seven miles of paved roads as well as 20 miles of unpaved roads, perfect for hiking and biking.

Little Big Econ State Forest

  • 35 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: EAST

Established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature, this state forest is only 25 miles from Orlando and includes 10,279 acres of unique wilderness. At one time, the forest was home to turpentine distilleries, row crops, and cattle ranching.

The forest is now protected as a state landmark and designed to restore indigenous environments and protect archaeological and historical sites.

Trail systems are preserved for hikers to travel through towering forests and soggy marshes. You hike for 10 miles along the Econlockhatchee River, and the trail drops you into different ecosystems. The trails are designed to be multi-use. Keep your eyes open for alligators, fox, squirrels, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys, wood storks, and roseate spoonbills.

Hunting is allowed in the Culpepper and Kilbee areas. If you are hiking or paddling through the forest, you must wear bright orange during the hunting season.

The Econlockhatchee River flows 17 miles through the forest and catches the St. John River at the park’s southern end. The forest and rivers are important sources for wetlands and ecosystems in the Econlockhatchee and St. Johns Rivers flood plains.

Blue Spring State Park near Orlando

  • 40 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: NORTH

Home to some of the most relaxing and luxurious waters in central Florida, Blue Spring State Park is truly a must-visit.

Nestled along the St. Johns River, these temperate waters are enjoyed by more than their human visitors and are home to an impressive annual manatee festival.

Thanks to the conservation efforts of local researchers, Blue Spring State Park has been turned into a haven for these magnificent aquatic creatures. Home to 14 manatees in 1970, the area’s conservation efforts boosted that number to over 485 manatees in 2018.

Because of these efforts, the waters are closed to activities from mid-November to the beginning of March. However, a manatee festival is held at the park every January and is definitely worth a visit.

Otherwise, visitors can enjoy birdwatching, hiking the park’s impressive trails, canoeing, kayaking, and more. The area truly showcases central Florida’s astoundingly beautiful array of wildlife like no other park.

Hontoon Island

  • 50 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: NORTH
Hontoon Island - State Park Near Orlando

Hontoon Island stands out from many of the parks on this list for one reason; it is truly an island. Because of this, the park is only accessible to those traveling by water. Visitors must take either a private boat or the park’s ferry to the island, where they can enjoy a truly secluded stay away from the city.

Leaning into the historical significance of the land, visitors can even opt for the truly rustic experience of renting a bathroom-less cabin or simply pitching a tent.

Those less interested in roughing it can simply soak in the island’s solitude and learn about the island’s historical significance in their visitor’s center. Visitors may boat, canoe, fish, grill, and more.

With the ferry operating nearly up until sunset and overnight boat rentals available, this is a great place to escape to after a full day’s worth of exploring.

Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park

  • 60 minutes from Orlando
  • direction: EAST
Best state parks near Orlando - Robert P. Murkshe Park
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A beautiful state park in Cocoa Beach, Florida is the Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park. The park is conveniently located near Orlando, Florida, and the amenities at the park are impressive. There are playgrounds, beaches, kayaking tours, walking trails, and campgrounds.

Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park provides many amenities throughout the campgrounds. There are showers and toilets, laundry rooms, Wi-Fi connections, and a large outdoor community area. The park is very large and boasts 2.5 natural acres of outdoor beauty. Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park lies along the banks of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cocoa Beach, rated as one of the best Florida’s beaches, is a wonderful setting for this enclave of natural beauty. It’s a very short drive to all of the tourist attractions in Orlando and its surroundings. The campgrounds within Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park are open year-round.