15 Best Things to Do in Orlando North

Blog written by  Kathleen Cobb, on behalf of Seminole County, Orlando North

Seminole County, Florida, is nestled just north of Orlando. Ergo, the nickname Orlando North. This county covers over 893.5 square kilometers. It’s also home to over 470,000 Floridians, making it Florida’s 13th most populated county. Its county seat, Sanford, is one of the best alternative destinations outside Florida. Visiting this county lets me explore a plethora of natural, historic, and outdoor attractions. Besides that, I was surprised to see Seminole County has zoos, state parks, and museums. Those planning to explore Seminole County will get their itinerary full of exciting activities.

So, here’s my list of the most exciting things to do in Seminole County.

Paddle Through the Pristine Waters of the Wekiwa Springs State Park



Upon arriving in Seminole County, the first attraction I visited was the Wekiwa Springs State Park. This state park, discovered in the mid-1800s, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Seminole County. Thousands of tourists, including me, flock to this state park to enjoy various water activities. I had an awesome time swimming in its crystal-clear waters.

At the same time, I grabbed the opportunity for some worthwhile kayaking and took part in its fun-filled boat tours. Those who don’t fancy getting wet can still have fun like me. I hiked to its nature trail, which spans over 25 miles, leading me to some scenic locations.

All-in-all, I had a splendid time enjoying what Wekiwa Springs State Park offers.

Have a Relaxing Time at Lake Monroe Park

There’s no better place in Seminole County to relax than Lake Monroe Park. Since it’s a stone’s throw away from Sanford, I decided to check out this park that many locals raved about. According to locals, this park underwent major renovations in 2004, improving its aesthetics and appeal.

Today, it remains one of the most charming community parks in the area. I appreciate the park’s spacious green open space, picnic pavilions, floating docks, trails, and playgrounds. It also has a campground where I can stay for the night.

Besides picnics and relaxation, I had a blast with its water activities at Lake Monroe, such as boating and fishing. So, for those yearning to destress, don’t hesitate to head to Lake Monroe Park and bask in its peaceful ambiance.

See Celestial Bodies at the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium

The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium is a spectacular attraction I spend time with at the Seminole State College of Florida. This planetarium has been open to the public for 25 years. It offers educational, interactive, and fun experiences to those who visit there. Compared to other planetariums, I had a fascinating time with its interactive activities.

I was amazed to see its full-dome planetarium facility, which features various presentations about astronomy. Some of the presentations that I experienced and worth recommending are the star displays, deep outer space viewing, and star gazing.

Thanks to the Central Florida Astronomical Society’s efforts, the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium remains one of the best attractions in Seminole County.

Hike Through the Cross Seminole Trail

The Cross Seminole Trail is a long and winding trail from Orlando to Lake Mary. This trail cuts through the entire Seminole County, thus its name. It stretches about 23 miles and is popular among hikers, which I gamely explored.
The hike led me to a mixture of urban and natural areas. Along the way, I came across people on their bikes or horseback, like me, traversing this amazing trail. The Cross Seminole Trail is one of Florida National Scenic Trails’ designated areas because of its one-of-a-kind hiking experience.

All-in-all, there’s no better place for a worthwhile hike than this trail.

Traverse the Sanford Riverwalk

Another noteworthy attraction I recommend is the Sanford Riverwalk. The riverwalk utilizes a multi-use pedestrian trail. Hiking through this riverwalk lets me enjoy the scenic view of Sanford on the other side and the southern shores of Lake Monroe on the other. This multi-use trail is often the preferred destination for tourists looking for a worthwhile sightseeing spot in Sanford. And it sure is because of the gorgeous landscape of the riverwalk’s surrounding area. The trail spans over 1.2 miles from French Avenue to Mellonville.

Besides the gorgeous scenery, the Sanford Riverwalk also connects to various city sections, leading me to restaurants, shopping malls, cafes, and other attractions.

Stroll Through the Historic Downtown Sanford



Sanford, the county seat of Seminole, is an attraction itself. It’s home to some of the country’s best attractions, including the Historic Downtown Sanford. The plethora of top-notch restaurants, shops, gastropubs, breweries, and historical attractions caught me off guard. I was amazed by the selection of businesses I could visit while strolling through this area in Sanford.

During the night, I was more hooked into the area after it transformed into a festive and colorful district filled with music and people. Of course, I appreciated the charming brick-lined streets with century-old oak trees that add appeal to the area.

Whether it’s about shopping, touring, dining, or partying, I guarantee that something exciting awaits everyone at Historic Downtown Sanford.

Test Your Skills at the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center

The Aiguille Rock Climbing Center is a one-of-a-kind place that tested my strength and determination while having fun. I head to Longwood to experience this indoor climbing center with a massive rock climbing facility catering to climbers of all skill levels. This place has been open since 1997, becoming a premier climbing center in Seminole County and Orlando.

I learned plenty of techniques and skills during my visit to the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center, thanks to its seasoned climbers who serve as its instructors. Seasoned rock climber or not, it’s one of the best places to experience this extreme sport in the area.

Appreciate the Natural Beauty of Lake Jesup Conservation Area

Lake Jesup Conservation Area is a vast wildlife-protected area east of Seminole County. I find this place perfect for nature lovers to connect with mother nature. I explored some areas of its vast wildlife conservation area and primitive campsites on foot. Besides hiking, I discovered that horseback riding, boating, and cycling are the best ways to explore this place.

Also, birdwatchers are guaranteed to have a field day visiting this attraction since it’s home to dozens of bird species. It includes white pelicans, sparrows, wintering ducks, hawks, ospreys, eagles, and migrating waterfowls commonly spotted in the area.

With all that in mind, Lake Jesup Conservation Area is another worthwhile place I visited in Seminole County.

Spot Exotic Animals and Plants at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens



Seminole County is also home to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. I discovered this 116-acre attraction in Sanford. This zoo and botanical garden is one of Florida’s treasures since it’s been treating everyone with a wonderful experience since 1923. So, I know that something fantastic awaits me inside.

And I didn’t fail because the zoo features over 350 animals of various species, and I gamely see each of them. Considering that, I spent my entire day at this zoo, but it was a worthwhile experience. From birds to mammals, reptiles to insects, I was amazed to see all of them in person. With all that in mind, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a recommended attraction to visit.

Hop On the St. Johns Rivership Company’s Boat Tours

The St. Johns Rivership Company is a highly recommended outdoor activity in Sanford. This activity is one of the most convenient ways to explore Lake Monroe. In my experience, the boat tour brought me to the lake’s most scenic and pristine locations.

It was a unique experience to explore Florida’s unspoiled natural beauty through its river cruise aboard this boat. What made me appreciate joining one of its boat tours is that this company is owned and run by a family who are descendants of pioneering sternwheelers back in the day.

Moreover, I appreciate the delicious meal I ate after the boat tour, courtesy of its chef. In addition, I was serenaded by live music entertainment aboard the boat. I can only say that St. Johns Rivership Company is a different way to explore Florida, making it a must-do activity, especially with family or friends.

Browse Through the Museum of Seminole County History

One of the best ways to get acquainted with this county’s history is by visiting the Museum of Seminole County History. I visited this museum in Sanford to cure my curiosity to learn more about Seminole County’s history. I browsed through the vast collection of artifacts, important documents, and photographs relevant to the county’s history.

It features Seminole County’s original inhabitants, culture, lineages, and other important information relevant to the area. Some of the best exhibits I discovered in this museum are the Native Americans of Central Florida, Industrial and Agricultural Development, and the Old Folks Home.

Besides history, the Museum of Seminole County History offers a one-of-a-kind paranormal tour that goes to alleged haunted historical buildings in Sanford for a spooky experience.

However, I was too scared to join this paranormal tour, but I still recommend this to try out.

Chill at the Imperial at Washburn Imports

The Imperial at Washburn Imports is a unique place to unwind and have fun all night. This one-of-a-kind bar and furniture store is situated along First Street in Sanford. It’s known for its unique setting, which combines a lively bar and antique theme. It’s one of the most popular hangout places for locals and visitors in the area.

I spent one evening at this place, and I didn’t expect it to be that lively, mingling with locals while enjoying sipping cocktail drinks from mixologists, with great music in the background. So, head to the Imperial at Washburn Imports, especially for those itching for some quality night out.

Immerse with Nature at the Little Big Econ State Forest



I headed to the Little Big Econ State Forest, another noteworthy natural attraction in Seminole County. This state forest spans over 5,048 acres just three miles east of Oviedo. Besides being an important natural habitat for local wildlife, this state forest is also a popular outdoor destination, which convinced me to visit there. It has a unique landscape of cypress swamps, bluffs, woods, and rugged terrain, home to some of Florida’s local wildlife. Like the other natural areas I visited, I explored this place also on foot.

While hiking, I was captivated by its serene natural setting. Besides hiking, I also camped at the nearby West Camp Area trailheads to rest after a tiring but memorable time wandering through this state forest.

Nature lover or not, the Little Big Econ State Forest has many things to enjoy for everyone.

Appreciate Arts at the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art

Last on my list is the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art in Downtown Sanford. This art gallery is famous for its contemporary folk art collection housed in a spacious 5,000-square-foot building. I came across this art gallery after searching for local art in Sanford.

Fortunately, I found one which happens to be where Seminole County’s local artists gather. Its gallery features many of Taylor’s and other local artists’ finest works. Besides browsing the artworks, I enjoyed attending exhibit unveilings and watching art-related events such as workshops.

So, before returning home, drop by the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art to celebrate local arts.

Get Up Close with Butterflies at the Lukas Nursery

The Lukas Nursery is best known for its butterfly encounter. This attraction in Oviedo features a gorgeous garden center home to hundreds of species of butterflies to see up close.

At the same time, this place has a shop that features homemade lawn care products, so as plants and flowers for sale. One of the best activities I enjoyed there was mingling with its in-house butterflies. Amazingly, this place is run by a family who also takes pride in growing top-notch plants, flowers, and related products for many years.

There’s no better way to encounter butterflies than visiting Lukas Nursery.

Final Thoughts

Seminole County, Florida, is indeed a wonderful alternative destination to Orlando. A few minutes from Orlando, I was treated to a unique travel adventure to nature, history, leisure, and outdoor activities. Of course, there are dozens more exciting things to do in Seminole County, Florida.

So, it’s up to everyone to continue exploring this wonderful destination in the southeast.