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Expert Advice

3 of the Best Places to Visit Around Orlando That You Might Not Know About

One Owner shares the best freshwater springs and places to kayak for adventurous travelers visiting Orlando

Kassi P.
Florida underground freshwater springs.

Earlier this year, my husband and I officially became kayak owners. Let me tell you – it's been money well spent. And while we haven't traveled with our new toys out of state (yet), we know that having them will pave the way for great adventures.

However, as Central Florida residents, we've found some of the best local spots that any adventurous traveler should consider visiting (especially if you travel with a kayak). 

Here are three Central Florida waterways worth adding to your "things to do" in Orlando list. 

1. Lake Minneola and Waterfront Park

Point of view shot of Hilton Grand Vacations Explorer Kayaking in Orlando, Florida.    

Only 35 minutes from one of our favorite resorts, Parc Soleil® by Hilton Grand Vacations, Lake Minneola is located in the heart of Clermont, Florida, and part of the Clermont Chain of Lakes.

It's also one of our favorite places to kayak in Central Florida, and one of the best options for beginners. We know from experience because it's where we took our inaugural voyage. 

In full transparency, I'm not the best kayaker in the world, and when we first went out on Lake Minneola — let's say, I was a little rusty after not kayaking in nearly five years.

However, since Lake Minneola is one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, it gave me room to get reacquainted with being back on the water. 

If you need to take a break from paddling – or just want a refreshment – be sure to stop by Lily's on the Lake. You'll find this restaurant and bar located right off the water, and you simply paddle up.

Even if you don't have kayaks, but you still want to enjoy a lovely afternoon on the lake, visit Clermont's Waterfront Park. Here, you'll find a nice beach along the lake, a kid's splash pad and easy access to a walking and biking trail. In addition, South Lake Trail is home to various triathlon and foot races throughout the year, so if you're looking to participate in a race while on vacation – check out this area.

2. Butler Chain of Lakes

Hilton Grand Vacations Owners taking a selfie,  in Butler Chain of Lakes, Central Florida.  

Butler Chain of Lakes has become our go-to kayaking spot to visit, and we love that it's incredibly close other Orlando attractions. But, what's impressive about this chain of lakes is the experience it offers.

Thirteen interconnected lakes make up this waterway, setting the stage for a nice, relaxing day on the water — exploring from lake to lake without getting out of your kayak. 

If kayaking isn't your thing, don’t worry, there are tons of other things to do on the water in Orlando, and Central Florida has various options for boat rentals. Consider a pontoon boat for larger groups or try your hand at wakeboarding. 

On average, we kayak more than 5 miles, which is quite the workout. However, we also take advantage of the peacefulness of being on the water — enjoying our morning cup of coffee after a few miles of paddling.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Quick Kayaking Tip: The boat dock and launch area can get busy throughout the day, so opt for an early morning or late afternoon visit.

3. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Hilton Grand Vacations Explorers posing with kayaks in Butler Chain of Lakes, Central Florida.    

This next spot is a must-do next time you're in Orlando. 

Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of those places that seems to transport you out of the craziness of the city and into the beauty nature offers. 

From hiking and camping to swimming in the beautiful springs, there’s something for every outdoor-loving traveler.

Of all of Florida's freshwater springs, this was the first one that I ever visited. Now, I have a list of springs I want to see throughout Florida. 

Our Top Three Places to Visit Next

With so many things to do on the water in Central Florida, we have many more places to explore on our list that we want to explore. 

Here are the top three spots that we want to visit next in Central Florida:

Underwater shot of manatees in Florida.    
  • Blue Spring State Park is home to a wide range of activities that run the gamut, from snorkeling and tubbing to horseback riding and primitive camping (and so much more). It's also just the spot for manatee sightings during the winter months. 
  • De Leon Springs State Park is rich in history. The springs here date back 6,000 to when the Mayaca Indians inhabited the area. Today, it’s the ideal place to cool off with a dip in the 72-degree springs or escape the hustle and bustle of Orlando.
  • Lake Louisa State Park is located in Clermont and offers a long list of things to do and is home to diverse wildlife. However, it's the opportunity for camping and glamping that is most impressive. 

Check out Hilton Grand Vacations' Orlando resorts to find the perfect launchpad for your Central Florida adventure.



Hilton Grand Vacations Owner, Kassi P.

Kassi P.

Kassi is a three-time Explorer and Owner since 2018, when she and her husband, then in their late 20's, decided vacation ownership was the next step in building a life filled with travel. As Orlando locals, they enjoy staycations and exploring The City Beautiful, but have never actually stayed at their home resort, Hilton Grand Vacations at Tuscany Village.  

When she's not using her ClubPoints in Florida, this urban traveler has a love of international travel and a sweet spot for her second home — New York City, which is where she got engaged while staying at West 57th Street by Hilton Club. When asked about her long run in the Explorer program, Kassi says, "It's my goal to inspire someone to create new memories, get out and travel and make the most out of vacation ownership."

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