June is here, which means it’s officially Great Outdoors Month! Living in Central Florida, the temperatures are starting to really heat up, but there are still plenty of fun ways to soak up the sun. (You just might have to start a little early!) Getting outside is incredibly important for our immune systems and our mental health, so pick one or all of these items to add to your summer to-do list.
Take a stroll along the Sanford RiverWalk.
Okay, I love Disney and all, but to me, the Sanford RiverWalk is the happiest place on Earth! Located about 30 minutes north of Orlando, the RiverWalk is located along the shore of Lake Monroe and gets a really nice breeze (which is rare when you live this far inland!). The trail is pedestrian-friendly and runs about five miles long. My perfect morning involves a stop at Rosie Lee Tea Co. for an iced royal blackberry tea in Historic Downtown Sanford (just steps away from the RiverWalk), before walking along the pathway and – on some days – stopping to read a book on one of the benches. Unless an event is taking place downtown, parking in Sanford is pretty painless. The RiverWalk is not shaded, so wear sunscreen and arrive early in the summer months.
Visit Green Springs Park.
I’ve written about Green Springs before, but this park in the Debary area is breathtaking and home to one of Florida’s few green sulphur springs. It feels absolutely magical! If you’re a more ambitious hiker, you can stop at this park and others along the Spring-to-Spring Trail. There are natural and paved pathways, along with a playground if you decide to bring the little ones.
Stop at one of our beautiful botanical gardens.
In Florida, we’re especially spoiled to have so many beautiful gardens in our midst! There are countless gardens to choose from, but I have a few favorites. Leu Gardens, located near the Mills 50 District, offers 50 acres of gardens and a variety of plant life, including azaleas, the rose garden, the floral clock, a butterfly garden and more. (Check out my recap here!) They are also home to a collection of fairy doors every year, which are hidden throughout the gardens for a fun scavenger hunt. The fairy doors will be on display through September 5 this year!
If you’re willing to venture out of Orlando, Bok Tower Gardens is another favorite of mine. Bok Tower is located in Lake Wales, between Orlando and Tampa. The singing carillon tower, the koi pond, and the variety of plant life are absolutely breathtaking. You can check out my recap of Bok Tower Gardens here, along with my summary of their Christmas tours here.
A more recent discovery of mine was the Ormond Memorial Art Museum‘s botanical garden in Ormond Beach. The garden is an incredible hidden gem, an “urban oasis” with a gazebo and plenty of areas to relax and enjoy the flora. This garden and adjacent museum are free to visit, so I encourage you to make the trip!
Go to Lake Lotus Park.
This park in the Maitland/Altamonte Springs area has quickly become a favorite of mine! Lake Lotus Park offers one mile of raised boardwalk, which is perfect for avoiding those flooded out trails after a rainy day. The trails are well shaded and home to some spectacular wildlife. I saw a barred owl on my first visit there! The park also offers a fishing pier and playgrounds, along with a pavilion available for rental.
Rent a kayak at Wekiwa Springs.
Kayaking can be quite the workout, but a great way to enjoy the outdoors and cool off! Wekiwa Springs State Park offers birding, camping, kayak and canoe rentals, hiking, swimming and more. I loved spending a relaxing morning at Wekiwa with my very first kayak rental, and highly recommend it if you can get there early before the park fills up.
What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors in Central Florida? Sound off in the comments below!