Hidden Gems Near Orlando You Need to Visit

  • By Tammy van der Westhuizen
  • Published 11 October 2022
  • Revised 14 October 2022
Hidden Gems Near Orlando You Need to Visit
  • By Tammy van der Westhuizen
  • Published 11 October 2022
  • Revised 14 October 2022
Hidden Gems Near Orlando You Need to Visit
  • By Tammy van der Westhuizen
  • Published 11 October 2022
  • Revised 14 October 2022

Orlando is well known as the heart of theme park fun and entertainment. However, there are many hidden gems throughout “The City Beautiful" just waiting to be found...

From cute villages to supernatural delights, here's where, when and how to turn Orlando's hidden gems into treasured holiday memories.

Discover Orlando's Nearby Cute Villages

Worn down from the hustle and bustle of Orlando? Then head out to the suburbs and discover Orlando's best-kept village secrets. You’ll feel miles away from Orlando’s crowds in "out-of-town" Winter Park and Windermere. As you can tell from the city names alone, they're truly idyllic, blissful neighbourhoods.

Winter Park, Florida

You can revel in the calmness of Winter Park just 7 miles north of Orlando. Park Avenue's red brick road, bordered with greenery, is a dreamy yet quiet thoroughfare. Take a coffee break at one of the independent cafes, and people watch from your chair. You'll notice friendly locals stopping to chat in this tight-knit community. This wholesome town also has attractive boutique shops and captivating architecture. Like a city lost in time, historic double-storey houses with iron-clad balconies line the street.

You can also get swept away by Windermere’s nostalgic charm, 12 miles southwest of Orlando. Like its English counterpart in the Lake District countryside, this alluring oasis is a lakeside town. Several lagoons surround this sleepy village bathed in citrus groves. Wherever you wander, a fresh orange scent lingers in the air. Venture down the cobblestone streets and admire the old wooden houses from the 1800s. Take a scenic boat ride on Windermere's lakes for adoring views of the peaceful Floridan town from the water.

Paranormal Activities

Care to say ‘Hello From the Other Side’?

Orlando can transcend your expectations if the supernatural super excites you. Cassadaga, the psychic capital of the world, lies just 35 minutes north of Orlando. Ready your palms and get your future told at Cassadaga Spiritual Camp, Florida’s well-kept secret. And whether you believe in the afterlife or not, the quaint town is the perfect horror movie setting. The sleepy atmosphere in this quiet and remote village is excitingly eerie. 

Plus, why wait for Halloween when Mortem Manor Haunted Attraction can frighten you year-round? This hidden gem is located in Kissimmee, on the outskirts of Orlando. But beware, the scary walk-through feels so real your screams will wake up the dead, as a killer combination of special effects and a spine-chilling cast unleash your deepest fears. That's before we mention the burial simulator that would even creep a mummy out.

For another mystical encounter, head to Spook Hill in Lake Wales. When you stop on the hill and place your automatic car in neutral, the vehicle will start rolling up the incline! Legendary tales shroud Spook Hill, once an American Indian village. People believe the slain chief, killed by a gator when protecting his tribe, haunts the hill. But science explains this phenomenon differently. Spook Hill is a magnetic hill, one of nature's optical illusions, which appears to be upwards, but in fact, is actually downhill.

Get Lost in Nature

Had you heard of the City Beautiful before? The name derives from the scenic paradise beyond Orlando's entertainment playground, and with this knowledge in mind, you can take your pick of the city's hidden gems of stunning nature...

Ocala National Forest

For evergreen foliage and ever-turquoise pools, visit the Ocala National Forest. The southernmost national forest in the continental USA boasts natural springs and diverse flora - so remember to pack your swimwear for the freshwater pools. Shaded by palms and oak trees, the cold water reawakens your senses and is so pure and clear you can see the lake bed. Then journey through Ocala's leafy woods on foot, by bicycle, kayak, or horseback. You can also find similar beautiful landscapes at Blue Springs and Silver Springs state parks.

Next, explore Bok Tower Gardens' manicured lawns in Lake Wales, 53 miles south of Orlando. Seasonal flowers bloom across the 250-acre garden that 126 bird species call home. It’s such a beautiful landscape, many weddings take place in this romantic field. At the highest point stands Bok Tower, a 205-foot octagonal structure of pink and grey marble. Known as the singing tower, the 23-bell carillon chimes every hour.

Bok Tower Gardens

Another plant paradise is the Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando. Two hundred-year-old oak groves shade the woodlands in this peaceful estate - you'll hardly believe you're in Orlando. The tranquil paths trail the flower gardens, lakes, and tropical rainforest. A sanctuary for butterflies, revel in the stillness of nature and serene outdoors.

Lesser-Known Entertainment

If Orlando's theme parks entice you to visit, make amusement high on your travel agenda too. And believe it or not, entertainment is not synonymous with crowds. You can visit the lesser-known playground of Old Town USA in Kissimmee for a smaller-scale park with smaller queues.

From rides to shops and all-American food courts, there's always something to do. And who doesn't love a retro-themed park? Old Town's vintage cars, neon lights, and classic funfair rides charm visitors of all ages.

Island H2O Waterpark

You can also make a splash at Island H2O Waterpark, in Kissimmee. Like Old Town, waiting times are near non-existent compared to Orlando's famous attractions. Here, you can swiftly hop on to fast-moving aquatic rides. Or, if you prefer calmer tides, you'll find relaxation at Island H2O Waterpark as well.

Orlando From Above

Head to the treetops and the open skies for an epic adventure you'll never forget. Who needs Disney World when you can release your inner Tarzan at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park. Located in Kissimmee, here you can test your balance on a 50-foot high rope course (whilst a safety harness protects you throughout the leafy course). Then ride the skies on the zipline for a journey through the Kissimmee jungle.

Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park

Saving the most iconic for last, take an unforgettable hot air balloon ride for an awe-inspiring view over Orlando. Better yet, wake up early to watch the sunrise over the world's entertainment capital from this beautiful vantage point. You'll also appreciate Orlando's beautiful nature with views of vibrant greenery and blue lakes.

For your chance to turn Orlando’s hidden gems into treasured memories, simply click here to start planning your holiday.

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