Orlando North — where trees are made of wood, the grass is real and the waterways have not been manufactured. Seminole County, which borders Orlando to the north, provides a generous helping of real Florida, with a wealth of natural riches that’s a welcome respite from the theme park crowds.
But why choose when you can do both? Those theme parks are just a short ride away from this outdoor wonderland, and Orlando North runneth over with genuine Florida.
There are lakes, rivers, streams, and springs to satisfy the water enthusiast in you. The St. John’s River which makes up most of the county’s northern border. There are three major lakes: Harney, Monroe, and Jessup (which is said to have the highest alligator population in Florida). More than a dozen State Parks, Preserves and Wilderness Areas dot the landscape.
There is an abundance of recreational pursuits that you can do on your own or experience through tours. You can hike, and swim ‘til you drop; go fishing, boating, sailing, kayaking, tubing, paddleboarding, airboat riding, eco-touring, cycling, zip lining, mountain biking, and even horseback riding. “I love bringing people out here on the trail to show them the wilder side of Florida,” says Rebecca Herrbach, who offers horseback tours at Hidden Palms Ranch in Sanford. “A lot of people come to the state and don’t get the chance to see all this natural beauty.”
One of Orlando North’s particularly beautiful experiences is found in its natural springs. We encourage you to rent a kayak or bring a tube to Wekiva Springs State Park. The spring-fed Wekiva River is a crystal-clear 72 degrees year-round. During the hotter months, a dip in this water is about as refreshing as it gets. “I mean, to think you can get this just a few minutes outside of Orlando,” says Ned Johnson, who runs the paddleboard rental at Wekiva Island.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife. Gators, of course (they’re docile, but we advise to keep a safe distance). Also, a striking array of birds, wild turkeys, pigs and hogs, bobcats, coyotes, and maybe even black bears.
These are sites you definitely won’t see at the theme parks. Genuinely Florida. Genuine Orlando North.