Even in winter, Winter Park is a summer-lover’s dream.
Not far from Orlando, Winter Park may not house any theme parks—but it has plenty of actual parks, with green spaces galore. Here, nature’s very own kingdom takes the form of sunny skies and the six, canal-connected lakes that wind through the city. Drive east, and you’ll reach the Atlantic Ocean in no time, or hit Orange County’s equally worthwhile state forests and parks. Beyond Winter Park’s natural beauty, the city is all about art, meaning camping in Winter Park provides access to both cultural and natural attractions, so you never have to choose between the two.
Drive east of Winter Park, toward the Atlantic Ocean. Before you hit the shores, you’ll reach Charles H. Bronson State Forest. You can hike, fish, and ride horses all throughout the park, where trails range in both difficulty and ecosystem. When you’re ready to turn in for the night, head to your backcountry campsite—but not before exploring St. Johns River.
Calling all naturalists. In the opposite direction, the wetlands around Lake Apopka harbor local wildlife, flowers, and plants. To see even more of the natural landscape, stop at Lake Apopka North Shore and explore the marshes and their bountiful habitats. If that’s still not enough of a freshwater fix, check-in to a campsite further north to experience the neighboring lakes.
Open year-round, Rock Springs Run State Reserve lets you choose your own adventure. Everyone from mountain bikers to bird watchers can find the perfect campsite, not far from Winter Park. You can canoe over the Wekiva River to reach your backcountry campsite. Or, you can horse around—and camp with a horse near Wekiwa Springs State Park. If you’d rather camp at a traditional campground, you can alternatively book classic campsites with water and electric hookups, grills, and picnic tables.
Don’t let the name fool you; Winter Park is all about warm-weather activities, which happen year round. Plan your camping trip around your preferences. Summer in Central Florida can feel unbearably hot, so if you want long hikes on difficult trails, come when the sun is at its most bearable. Winter in Winter Park may bring crowds—plan accordingly so that your only surprise is nature’s beauty.