Annual Manual 2013
Parks, gardens, rides and adventures in the Orlando area
Published: April 12, 2013
Formal Gardens and Botanical masterpieces
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales
A botanical and historical masterpiece designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., crowned with a neo-Gothic/art deco 205-foot bell tower. Open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. $12 for adults, $3 for children.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
1920 N. Forest Ave.
Three miles of paved paths wind through truly gorgeous botanical displays, including the largest formal rose garden in Florida, a bamboo forest and a butterfly garden. You can also visit the historic on-site house museum. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission: $10.
Mead Botanical Garden
1500 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park
This green oasis features bike paths, boardwalks and picnic areas set amongst native plants and wildlife, restored wetlands and riparian forests. This unique ecological oasis is a hidden gem. Open daily, 8 a.m. to dusk, free.
2267 Hempel Ave., Gotha
This garden was once the home of pioneering horticulturist Henry Nehrling, who liked to experiment with tropical and subtropical plants – he tested more than 3,000 types of plants here for the USDA. The gardens and Nehrling’s historic home are currently being restored, but private tours are available by appointment.
Central Florida Railroad Museum
101 S. Boyd St., Winter Garden
A cool little museum located in adorable, walkable downtown Winter Garden. This museum features the finest collection of Florida railroad memorabilia in the state, housed in the former Tavares & Gulf railroad depot. Free.
Fort Christmas Historical Park and Museum
1300 Fort Christmas Road, Christmas
An interesting little regional history museum that showcases pioneer life in Florida, housed in a replica Seminole War-era log structure. You’ll also find seven restored Florida cracker-style homes, as well as picnic pavilions, playgrounds and basketball courts. Free.
Fantasy of Flight
1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E., Polk City
This one’s a haul from downtown Orlando, but if you’re a plane buff, it’s worth the drive. See how old planes are restored, tour hangars holding more than 40 airplanes – some them are the last of their kind – or climb into the cockpit of a flight simulator. Admission: $25.95.
Florida Air Museum
4175 Medulla Road, Lakeland
This museum, adjacent to the Lakeland Regional Airport, isn’t too far from Fantasy of Flight, so you can combine a visit to both and make a day of it. Check out the collection of Howard Hughes memorabilia on permanent display, including leather flying suits, scrapbooks and personal artifacts that once belonged to the world’s most notorious recluse. Admission: $10.