Admission: $6 per vehicle
Hours: 8 am – sun down
Distance from downtown Orlando: 15 miles (20 mins)
Wekiwa Springs Website
Sometimes spelled Wekiva Springs (because that’s how it’s pronounced), the large circular part of the spring is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It is surrounded by a path, grass and benches. There are lockers, restrooms, a snack store, and grills in the garden for picnics. A boardwalk takes you for a short circuit through the forest.
Hire a kayak (about $25 for two hours, $5 every hour after that) and paddle down the river. You’ll see alligators, turtles, cranes, eagles, egrets, lilies, and graceful trees draped in spanish moss. The only civilization you’ll pass is Wekiva Island, a cluster of tiki bars, decks, and deck chairs. Stop for a drink or bite to eat if you like, or keep on paddling and the river eventually opens up into a broad lily pond. But the waterway keeps going for 15 miles, so this is by no means the end.
Wekiwa Springs fills up in summer so arrive before 11 am. We went in October and there was hardly anyone there.
Photo credits: Alligator: IG cpm_images. Turtles: IG krissybeenz. Trees: Mcmarkle_snavely and chancejsweat