In Central Florida, locals have their favorite places to grab some fresh air, spend the day outside and cool off from the heat; those places are Wekiwa Springs State Park and Wekiva Island. Located adjacent to each other, they are 20 minutes north of Orlando and happen to boast some of the best in outdoor activities throughout the entire state of Florida.
Take a look at these insider tips and get the most out of your time at Wekiwa Springs State Park and Wekiva Island.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
There is so much to do and see in this little slice of paradise; you could visit every day and never get bored. Wekiwa Springs State Park is home to 13 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Kayakers and canoers can paddle along 16 miles of the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, located right past the very busy Wekiva Island. If there is only one thing to remember, it’s to get there early. Open daily at 8 AM, it’s not uncommon for park rangers to close access by 10 AM because the park has reached capacity.
Know Before You Go
• Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the park’s concessionaire
• Camping options include both a full-facility campground and primitive camping areas
• Other activities and features include: geo-seeking, birding, swimming, wildlife viewing, interpretive nature center, snorkeling, fishing, picnicking, a playground and more
• Snorkeling is only allowed in Wekiwa Springs, not in Wekiwa Springs Run, Rock Springs Run or the Wekiva River
• Canoe/kayak/SUP rentals go fast and start at $25 per hour
• Pets allowed on a leash
• No lifeguards on duty
Like Wekiwa Springs State Park, Wekiva Island is an eco-friendly destination that offers much to do and much to see. Take a dip in the refreshing water, cool off with a drink at the bar, burn some calories with a beach volleyball game, kayak the river or just play a round of corn hole with friends. On the weekends, enjoy live music by the firepit.
If you’re just looking to relax and enjoy the riverfront, grab one of the many Adirondack chairs lined up on the boardwalk, which overlook the Wekiva River and Sweetwater Canal. Wekiva Island also hosts paint nights, wine events, Firepit Fridays and more. The firepit is great for cooler winter months when you can cozy up to the fire and even roast marshmallows.
The Tooting Otter
Wekiva Island’s craft beer and wine bar, the Tooting Otter, is hands-down the place to be and be seen on the island. Catch the game on the flat screens or just relax and refresh with a Tooting Otter Blonde Ale from Southern Tier Brewing and a basket of chicken wings. Along with an impressive selection of craft beer and wine, Tooting Otter offers snack food and a full menu. All food is under $13, while drinks are usually $6 or under – during happy hour, take an extra $1 off beer and wine prices.
There are several other activities and features at Wekiva Island, such as the boat launch. For a small fee, launch your own boat into the river and explore the waters or go fishing, or rent a boat slip on a monthly basis at the marina, dubbed “The Sanctuary.”
Know Before You Go
• On weekends and holidays, there is a $1 entrance fee to Wekiva Island (cash only)
• The events calendar is an excellent reference as it is continuously updated with the island happenings
• Leashed pets are allowed
• Outside food and drinks aren’t permitted; however, if you’ve rented a cabana (River Banas), you can bring these items
• River Bana rentals ($85 – $185): several different sizes; they do sell out on the weekends from March to September – book online in advance
• Alcohol is never allowed on Wekiva Island (except at the Tooting Otter), in the parking lot or on the river
Book Your Vacation Home Accommodations
After an action-packed day spent kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and more, you’ll be ready for rest and relaxation. Plan your vacation in style and come home to Encore Resort at Reunion. Our guard-gated community features modern, beautifully decorated 4- to 13-bedroom homes with backyard pools, washer/dryer units, and fully equipped kitchens, plus resort-style amenities like an AquaPark and concierge services.