Lake Eola represents the antithesis of most of the rest of Orlando: calm, spacious and quiet, with no direct pressure to buy anything from a multinational corporation. Swan boats can be rented, there's a farmers market on the weekends, and the various sections of the park have something for everyone. And, being just steps for the lively and trendy Thornton Park's bars and restaurants, you can escape the car for a period. Really one of the nicest and most redeeming things in Orlando.
Downtown Orlando has always attracted visitors to its lovely Lake Eola and surrounds. In the center of the lake is a large fountain which is lit up at night and can be seen from the surrounding neighborhoods. Concerts are preformed along the shores and farmers markets can be frequented for "goodies" to eat, wear, display. .
The photo of the fountain was taken by someone else, not me.
Lake Eola is a small lake which can be found in downtown Orlando.
Surrounding the lake, you will find Lake Eola Park. The lake itself is actually a sink-hole which goes to a depth of approximately 24m.
The lake is 1,380m in circumference and has a pleasant walking path around its circumference which is a little less than a mile in length.
Originally established in 1888, the park and pond were donated, in piecemeal, to the City of Orlando by several different families and officially declared a park in 1892. At times the park has been home to a zoo, a horse racetrack, tennis courts, a pier with a dance area, as well as the site of a local radio station. The fountain was originally installed in 1912 at a cost of US$10,000 and was then replaced in 1957 by the "Centennial Fountain" and is the unofficial symbol of Orlando. Unfortunately, as a result of a lightening strike, the fountain was out of order during my visit in October 2009.
The park is open 7 days a week from 06:00 to midnight.
Lake Eola is centrally located and most major City events take place there, like the 4th of July fireworks, many arts and crafts shows, plays, concerts, and local cultural events.
People like to feed the birds ( and I wished they didn't , since they make a mess...) which there are entirely too many of, and there is a nice playground for the kids. You can also rent a swan boat.
What you can't do is rollerblade there...and I don't think you can ride a bike either ( against Park rules and too many people go there...)
located just east of orange ave. in downtown orlando is lake eola park. lake eola is an oasis in the middle of the city. pictured is the lake eola fountain which is a landmark of the city. a nice place to visit during the day to jog or just relax and have a picnic lunch. however lake eola park should be avoided after dark due to orlando's large homeless and drug dependant population.
You can watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, hike Florida's version of desert, called scrub, open pinelands, explore a cypress swamp, and fish on a natural lake -- all within an hour from Orlando.
Here are some of the places I especially enjoy.
Hidden River Campground (1-407-568-5346) in Orlando offers canoe and kayak rental and a shuttle for $40 per person Camping is available in the Little Big Econ State Forest for $5 per night.
Disney Wilderness Preserve
This Disney experience 15 miles south of Orlando. Managed by the Nature Conservancy, has miles of trails through pine flatlands and a boardwalk to a serene lake. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $3. 1-407-935-0002, nature.org/florida.
Blue Spring State Park
In winter, manatees gather in the warm spring-fed waters in Orange City, 32 miles from Orlando. In addition to wonderful manatee-watching, swimming, scuba diving and canoeing are also available. Open 8 a.m.-sundown, $5 per vehicle. 1-386-775-6888, www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/default.asp.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Titusville, 45 miles east of Orlando, is the gateway to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Black Point Wildlife Drive - self-guided tour Admission is free. 1-321-861-0667, merrittisland.fws.gov/.
Cape Canaveral National Seashore
Just east of Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral National Seashore. 24 miles along the Atlantic. See shuttle launch pads, sanderlings, terns, brown pelicans. $5 per vehicle fee. 1-321-867-4077, www.nps.gov/cana/.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
This park, 20 miles north of Orlando, has a spring-fed creek that is fun to canoe, mountain biking trails . Open 8 a.m. to sundown daily. $3.25 per vehicle. 1-407-884-2008, www.abfla.com/parks/WekiwaSprings/wekiwa.html.
Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve
Near Lake Lizzie, about 30 miles south of Orlando. By foot or horseback. Open sunrise to sunset daily. Free. 1-407-343-3400 or 1-407-892-2397, www.floridabirdingtrail.com/.
This is a small lake, 9/10 of a mile around, but it is right in downtown Orlando and just a short walk to Thornton Park (5 minutes tops) great place to walk, jog, take your dog, and people watch.
Here's a bit of Trivia: the city is named after Orlando Reeves who was killed by American Indians on the sight of Lake Eola in 1835.
I am fortunate to be staying within walking distance of this beautiful park. The waterbirds and botanical delights are everywhere.
There is an outdoor cafe and a path that circles the entire lake that is home to many types of birdlife like white swans, blue jays, shags, ducks and geese. In the gardens there are many squirrels and lizards. Its great to discover such a peaceful place in the heart of a thriving city centre.
The fountain is beautiful and continually flows in the centre of the lake. There is a sound shell where concerts and plays are performed with seating for at least 200. While I was there they were billing 'A Mid Summers Night Dreams'. A perfect Shakespearian place for an outdoor venue under a blanket of stars.
Lake Eola is Orlando’s signature park, with its spectacular fountain. Along its shore, at a tiny kiosk called the Lake Eola Cafe, you can rent paddle boats decked out as graceful white swans and take them for a spin on this picture postcard lake.
Or do what I do, bring your bike;-)
downtown Orlando. Walk around Lake Eola, ride in one of the swan boats.
an airboat ride on the St. John's River. This is a 1 1/2 hour tour of the St. John's River. You'll see alligators, egrets, herons, turtles and other wildlife. It is unspoiled and enjoyed by those who love nature. This is the true image of Florida that I would like people to remember AND it is only $35 pp. I take all of my out-of-town guests to do this and it is all they talk about the rest of the visit. Your pictures will be spectacular!!!
Tower Gardens is beautiful for a quiet day of rest under a shade tree.
to Winter Park and take the Winter Park Boat Tour. The cost is $5 per person and it lasts for 45 minutes. You board a pontoon boat and a guide steers you around the lakes in the chain. He knows all of the stories about the homes that sit on the lakes. The homes are gorgeous!! It is a carefree way to spend the morning. After the boat ride, grab some lunch on Park Avenue (a block away).
These are very non-touristy things to do. You'll see mostly locals doing these things.
wonderful place to take in a little local culture--take a stroll around the lake and fountain (less than a mile)--you stroll right past Lee's Lakeside a locally owned and operated upscale restaurant. At night the fountain is spectacular and during the day you can take a Swan paddleboat ride.
Since 1910, there have been three bandstands constructed at Lake Eola. The Walt Disney Amphitheatre was donated to the city in 1989 and hosts many functions throughout the year.
for such a small lake (9/10 of a mile around) there is so much to see. I've always loved the Chinese Temple.