Orlando City Guide

Relaxing & Unwinding in Orlando

There is nowhere better to unwind than Orlando. Play a leisurely round of golf, enjoy a poolside champagne brunch, or picnic in one of Orlando's beautiful parks. Away from the bustle of the major attractions, there are sanctuaries of peace and quiet.

Lake Enola and Loch Haven Park in Orlando offer gentle walking, waterside benches for picnics or people-watching, and breathtaking panoramic views of the city. There are spas to be pampered in and resorts with Olympic-size pools, surrounded by palm trees and tropical vegetation, where you can laze the day away. And, just a short drive away are the magnificent beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Coast.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Orlando

Spend a leisurely day at Wekiwa Springs State Park (1800 Wekiwa Circle), just north of Orlando in Apopka. It's where many of the locals hang out on the weekend, so go during the week when it's less busy. You can sunbathe or swim in the spring that remains warm year-round, or walk along 13 miles of gentle trails through Florida vegetation that hasn't changed for thousands of years.

If you take a canoe trip along the Wekiva River, you might spot river otters, black bears, and alligators. Admission to the park is $5 per car, so it's one of the best value deals around. You can also rent canoes or kayaks at the park for $12 for two hours, and barbecue grills are provided.

A great way to relax and unwind is to spend a few hours next to the pool (every resort has one) or at a nearby beach. Within a 45-minute drive of Orlando is Cocoa Beach with its white sand beaches, or drive a little farther north to New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach. 

Golf in Orlando is as good as it gets. More golf courses are located in the Greater Orlando area than anywhere else on earth. You should play early or late in the day when the sun isn't so warm. The Kissimmee Golf Club (3103 Florida Coach Drive, Kissimmee) is a challenging 18-hole course with the additional hazard of lots of wildlife.

Other good public 18-hole courses are the Wekiva Golf Club (4100 Wekiva Club Ct, Longwood) and the Hawk's Landing Golf Club (8701 World Center Drive). No matter how you do on the links, each course has a clubhouse to relax in afterward.

Relax on an hour-long, narrated Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, an 18-passenger boat ride on three of seven lakes and two narrow, manmade canals in the small city north of Orlando. The boats leave every hour from the end of Morse Boulevard at Lake Osceola in the city of Winter Park.

Spend a few hours exploring Lake Eola at Lake Eola Park (195 N Rosalind Ave) in the heart of downtown Orlando. The city was originally situated on the west side of the lake, and residents swam and fished in the lake and picnicked along its banks.

This striking fountain is part of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando.
©2006 Orlando CVB
This striking fountain is part of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando.

Today, the city has encircled the lake, and a walk around the water's edge offers panoramic views of Orlando's skyline. The park is beautifully landscaped, rich in wildlife, and has a spectacular fountain in the center of the lake.

Just east of Lake Eola is Thornton Park, one of Orlando's trendiest new areas that has some great restaurants and cafes, such as Mobil Two-Star Hue (629 E Central Blvd), which offers gourmet fare and killer martinis.

If you are interested in people-watching, grab a table at Houston's (215 S Orlando Ave) in Winter Park between 5 pm and 7 pm any weekday or sit at Bahama Breeze (499 E Altamonte Drive) in Altamonte Springs around the same hours. You can eat and drink, but most people go to see and be seen.

Are you ready for something a little more active? In the next section, you'll find suggestions on how to take in all the sights of Orlando on organized tours.