By Gary McKechnie

To cool off in the summertime, most travelers who visit Orlando will seek out a theme park’s water park.

Nothing wrong with that, but locals know of an alternative. They’ll look for a natural watering hole. A creek or lake or river. Those that know the area best will look for Wekivwa Springs State Park, just 20 minutes north of Orlando in the suburb of Longwood.

A preserved piece of paradise, this is where you want to go when you want to see what Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted here hundreds of years ago.

Drive into the park and the forest surrounds you. From the top of a hill you can look down a sloping lawn and see a fantastic image: A crystal-clear blue-green natural spring that is the headwaters of the Wekiva River.

Summertime in Florida can be hot; Wekiva Springs is a constantly cool and refreshing 72 degrees.

Beyond plunging into this beautiful natural pool, this one park features 13 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding.

Just beyond the main spring, you can rent a canoe or kayak and explore the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. There are picnic pavilions and concession areas as well, and if you can’t get enough of this natural paradise, stay a little longer – Wekiwa has primitive as well as full-facility camping. Yes, Wekiva is the spring and river, Wekiwa is the overall park.

I first started going to Wekiwa Springs State Park when I was a kid. I still go there today. It’s a natural oasis near the world’s most popular tourist destination.

If You Go:
1800 Wekiwa Circle
(407) 884-2008

Florida Travel: Visit Wekiwa Springs State Park & Wekiva Island

Places To Remember