Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › 6 Natural Preserves and Lakes You Can’t Miss in Orlando

With attractions like the World’s Biggest McDonald’s and Disneyland rivaling for attention, Orlando can get quite overwhelming. So much so, it’s easy to forget it’s a city nestled into the glades and some of the most beautiful wetlands America has to offer. If you want to take a break from the city and enjoy a leisurely, picturesque stroll with a variety of biking and hiking options to choose from, then here are the top lakes and natural preserves you can’t leave Orlando without visiting.

Tibet-Butler Preserve

This natural preserve does what few other hiking routes in the area can; it provides clean and easy-to-navigate trails through the beautifully dense wilderness, but without compromising on authenticity, allowing you to see the natural variety of plants, trees, palms, and if you keep your eyes peel, even some animals. Want to brag about trekking through the real Florida wilderness? Then the Tibet-Butler Preserve will give you the experience. Check out their Vera Carter Environmental Center for educational programs on the animals, greenery, and even some of the influences the Disney Kingdom has had on the area.

Lake Ivanhoe

Lake Ivanhoe is a picturesque destination where you and your family can bring your paddle boats, your inner tubes, and even your surfboards for gentle boating on the calm waters. Just out of earshot from the city, you’re away from the sounds of bustling traffic, but can still enjoy the stunning view of skyscrapers looming over the mirror-like lake. It’s exceptional at night, where the sunset turns the lake and glass towers pink, and then the city lights transform the lake into a rainbow of colors. A perfect place for a barbeque or a fun day on the water, bring anything that’ll float so you can venture out onto the lake, and be sure to stay after dark —you’ve never seen anything like it.

Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve

If you’re ready to get off the beaten path, then the Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve is where you get hands-on to see the Florida still untouched by civilization. Rent a horse and head out into the wetlands to get a beautiful panoramic view of the marshy lands, or bring your camera for some exceptional bird watching, with sightings of wood storks, Sandhill cranes, and red shouldered hawks. Watch your feet for the variety of other wildlife, including gopher tortoises, limpkins, and snakes. If you pack a lunch, you can picnic at any one of their exceptional lakes, including Trout Lake, Lake Lizzie, and Bay Lake, and top of the day with a calming hike along a paved trail through the forest.

Lake Killarney

If you’re looking for an idyllic getaway for kicking up your feet and relaxing, Lake Killarney delivers. Recline on the dock with a glass of wine and overlook the vast lake surrounded by dense parkland, with overgrown trees looming at the shores, or get out on the water with a paddle boat. While there aren’t any launches for those with their own boats, rentals are reasonably priced and make for an all-day retreat out on the water with friends or family. What can be better than bobbing on the tame (depending on the weather) waters with a sandwich and good company?

Lake Toho (Tohopekaliga)

Some lakes are just lakes, but watch the kiddos’ eyes light up when you tell them there’s an island to be explored at this one. For that matter, it’s an exciting adventure for adults as well, to paddle out on a surfboard to the lush green Makinson Island. Covered from shore to shore in nature hikes and trails, the 132-acre island has a variety of local wildlife that’ll turn a fun day-trip into a locale worth coming back to. If you’re not much into hiking, then find a cozy place on the lake’s shore and enjoy Lake Toho as one of the most renowned fishing locales in the entire state, with trophy-level bass. Nearby BBQ grills and marinas make it a perfect RV spot for the entire family.

Lake Eola

While a man-made lake, this destination offers some fantastic advantages in exchange for its lack of authenticity. Situated right in downtown, it’s within walking distance of the most famous restaurants and niche cafes, making it an ideal place for the family to enjoy after a long day in the city. You can picnic on the shores of Lake Eola with a beautiful view of the multi-colored fountain at its center, encourage the kids to chase the swans (at their own risk, while you get YouTube ready), or rent a swan paddleboat to coast through the waters.

After you’ve picked up some of the most exotic souvenirs Orlando has to offer, your suitcase or RV might be looking a little packed. If you want to offload the extra, why not give it to a good cause? Check out Things You Can and Cannot Donate to Goodwill.

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