This place is a little slice of heaven on earth. I was fortunate enough to live nearby this park for a year, and guess what? We would go there at least once a week. It is that addictive.
So, if you're planning a trip to central Florida, especially during winter, here's my personal recommendation: Don't miss the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Orlando Wetlands Park.
This 1,650-acre park offers breathtaking wetland habitats that attract an array of wildlife, including over 220 bird species and 63 butterfly species, making it a prime destination for bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
You'll get to enjoy the peace and serenity of its landscapes while experiencing its diverse ecosystem.
The park is open seven days a week and allows for various passive activities like hiking, biking (non-motorized), and horseback riding.
The park also offers guided tours led by volunteers, giving you a chance to immerse yourself in the fascinating environment while learning more about this natural gem.
It's accessible too!
Anyone can visit! If walking is a problem, consider joining the tram tours offered from September to May.
These popular tours fill up quickly, so make sure to arrive early and sign up at the Education Center.
You'll definitely want to bring your camera to capture this unique destination's stunning wildlife scenes and memories.
Exploring the Park
There are multiple ways to enjoy this peaceful park.
Orlando Wetlands Park is a haven for birdwatchers, attracting a wide variety of species. With over 1,650 acres of hardwood hammocks, marshes, and lakes, it's a perfect destination for both casual and avid observers.
The best spot to see different bird species is the Education Center, where tram tours are available. Just remember to check the schedule and plan accordingly.
Hiking and Biking Trails
Over 20 miles of roads and woodland trails crisscross the park, offering opportunities for visitors to hike or bike. With various paths to choose from, you're bound to find a trail that suits your fitness level and sightseeing interests.
Keep in mind that dogs are not permitted in the park, so plan your visit accordingly.
The park's stunning landscape and diverse wildlife make it an ideal location for nature photography. Capture images of:
- Birds in their natural habitat
- Beautiful marshes and lakes
- Woodlands and trails
So, be sure to bring your camera and immerse yourself in the wonders of the Orlando Wetlands Park.
Check out the small education center right by the entrance and see if you can tag along to a local docent.
Orlando Wetlands Park offers guided tours for visitors to explore the park. These tours provide insight into the wetlands ecosystem and are led by knowledgeable guides.
Wildlife Viewing Platforms
The park has several wildlife viewing platforms that provide opportunities to observe various species in their natural habitats. Whether you're an avid birdwatcher or just enjoy nature, these platforms are perfect for a day out.
Environmental Education Programs
Orlando Wetlands Park also offers educational programs for schools and organizations. These programs aim to teach participants about the importance of wetlands and their role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
The park keeps evolving, with a new large visitors center being built. But there's already a lot you can enjoy in terms of amenities.
Orlando Wetlands Park is a great place to enjoy a picnic. There are several picnic tables available throughout the park for visitors to use.
Bring a blanket and enjoy your meal while surrounded by nature.
The park also provides restroom facilities for visitor convenience. These restrooms are available during the park's open hours, which are from sunrise to sunset.
Orlando Wetlands Park is designed with accessibility in mind. The park offers wide berm roads for walking, biking, and even horseback riding.
These pathways make it easy for visitors to explore the park's 1,650 acres of various wetlands habitats.
Planning Your Visit
Hours and Admission
The Orlando Wetlands Park is open 7 days a week, from sunrise to sunset. This allows you to plan a visit at a time that suits your schedule.
Make sure to check for any tram tour schedule changes before heading out.
What to Bring
When visiting the park, it's essential to be prepared for various conditions.
- Sun protection: Full sun exposure is common, so bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
- Insect repellent: Helps to ward off any unwanted insect encounters.
- Water and snacks: Stay hydrated and energized during your visit.
- Comfortable shoes: Ideal for walking on the park's berm roads and trails.
- Camera and binoculars: Capture memorable moments and spot distant wildlife.
Rules and Regulations
To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, follow the park's rules and regulations.
- Keep a safe distance from alligators and other wildlife.
- Dogs are allowed, but must remain on a leash and cleaned up after.
- Do not feed or disturb any animals, including birds.
- No alcoholic beverages or glass containers are permitted.
- Biking, horseback riding, and trail hiking are allowed, but off-road vehicles are not.
What's the best time to visit the Park?
Hands down, that would be wintertime. This park is a little piece of primordial heaven between December and March.
It's the right time to see an amazing array of birds. The soundtrack is amazing as well.
The cooler months are also prime alligator-watching time. In fact, this is one of our six locations where alligator sightings are nearly guaranteed during this season.
Early in the winter, you'll see vultures galore. Both turkey vultures and black vultures crowd the trees and paths.
Later in the season, the sandhill cranes strut around with their young in tow.
And in May, that's when the elusive huge softshell turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. I had the privilege of witnessing this. Not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions.
Honestly, you can't go wrong any time between December and May.
We used to visit the park almost every week during those months - with new adventures and new animals to see on every visit.
I'm so glad I get to share my favorite happy place with you!