Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
Unspoilt Orlando – Relaxation Amongst The Excitement
The biggest attractions in Orlando are our parks and shopping. They give us our most memorable experiences (and most memorable credit card statements! ) but it can get a bit much when it is day after day of noise, concrete and action. So how about getting away from it all - without actually getting away from the area?
Celebration is a name you see on the I4 and the 192 and you may even have visited it. It has a lovely centre with good eating and shopping, set by a large lake. But have you ever seen the other side of the lake?
Follow the “Trail” sign to the left of the lake or go to the right of Celebration Hotel (past the old cars) and join the timber boardwalk there. Once across the lake, further boardwalks take you through marshland to a second lake and then a third. There are information signs about the wildlife – both birds and mammals – to be found there. There are nice houses across the second lake but there are truly spectacular ones across the third lake! One has its own waterslide feature and a neighbour is trying to catch up with the Jones’ at the time of writing. The architecture of the whole frontage is breathtaking and adds to the natural pleasure of the walk through lake and marshland. Beyond the third lake is a delightful park, which is well worth a circuit before returning. Maximum distance about 2 miles (45 minutes). Be sure to treat yourself to a well-earned coffee and pancakes at a lakeside hotel when you get back.
The Tibet-Butler Preserve is a superb area of conservation land. It is found by leaving the I4 at junction 68 and heading west on the 535. Follow the road left at the second lights (after Disney), just before Shoney’s. The Preserve is about 5 miles out and comes up quickly after Cypress Isle – there is no advance notice.
It contains an Environmental Center and a host of interlinked walks. Please note that these can be restricted during very wet weather and strollers may be hard work at these times. You are quickly into dense scrubland with a variety of birds (especially eagles) wheeling overhead. There are plenty of informative signs dotted around which explain about the vegetation and wildlife. Be sure to collect the green Interpretative Trail Guide (at no cost, just like the whole site is) and also be sure to include the “Osprey Outlook” trail, which takes you to Lake Tibet-Butler itself. If you go in the heat of the day, most wildlife is out of sight but going out early and sitting patiently can be rewarded by seeing various waterfowl and alligators on the lake. There is a small chance of seeing venomous snakes on site (rattlesnake, coral snake, cottonmouth) but you have to be very lucky (or unlucky? ). There is currently a total of 4 miles of trails and more are planned. It has no dedicated website.
Lake Louisa is found on the US27, 5 miles north of the 192. It is signalled several times beforehand. There is a $4 per car entrance fee but it well worth the cost.
There are a series of six lakes with some wonderful walking around them. You can camp there and Lake Louisa itself has a patrolled beach for swimming in Summer. It is patrolled by alligators during the rest of the year. Like Tibet-Butler, this place is a magnet for bird lovers. For more details, see the excellent article on this site.
There are a number of other state and local parks in our region (see the floridastateparks. org website), so don’t get jaded by Mickey and McDonald’s, take half a day to get some recreation in real Orlando. You will love it.
Author: Scott Kirkham and Kathryn Statton
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