Get Outside in Central Florida
Published on Dec 9, 2019 by Bridgette Cude
Your guide to soaking up the sun: in the sand, on the water, at the parks, or in the stadium.
In Florida, we take full advantage of year-round great weather with plenty of things to do outdoors. And we're not just talking about a picnic in the park -- from beach bums to Potterheads, surfers to soccer fans, we've got you covered.
You may have heard: We have theme parks. Yes, they're a big deal, even here, and yes, as a local, you're likely to find yourself at a theme park one way or another. Go ahead, be a tourist in your own town!
At Walt Disney World, we recommend catching Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival or checking out the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area of Disney's Hollywood Studios. No tickets? No problem. Visit the resort areas during holidays to see some over-the-top decor or wander around the top-notch dining and shopping centers at Disney Springs.
Universal Orlando Resort is popular with locals for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Marvel Superhero Island, and Halloween Horror Nights. CityWalk, just outside of the park, is also a great place for touristy restaurants and vacation-style nightlife.
Other parks to check out include Sea World, Gatorland, the water parks at Disney and Universal, LEGOLAND, and the bustling, tourist-focused attractions of International Drive.
Full Sail's campus is about an hour to the closest beach, which means weekend trips to the coast are common here. On the east coast of Florida, you can expect bigger waves for surfing, some rugged state park beaches, and of course, the "Space Coast." Watch a rocket launch from Cocoa Beach, bring your dog to the pet-friendly Smyrna Dunes Park, or drive right on the sand of iconic Daytona Beach.
To the west, the nearest beach is a bit further, but worth the drive. Florida's west coast is famous for soft, white sand and for making "Best Beach" lists wherever you might find them. Join a festival at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach, shop boutiques near Siesta Key, watch out for turtles on Longboat Key, or catch the sunset on the laidback shores of St. Pete Beach.
Orlando is a great city for soccer fans with the MLS's Orlando City SC and NWSL's Orlando Pride in town. With a soccer stadium located downtown, the match pregaming and after-parties often take over the streets.
Home court to the NBA's Orlando Magic is also downtown, at the Amway Center. It's an expansive venue where hockey fans can also watch the Orlando Solar Bears. And just blocks away, Camping World Stadium hosts Monster Jam, college bowl games, and big events for local sports groups.
Florida is also home to three NFL teams - the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – as well as NASCAR's iconic Daytona International Speedway; all of these are just a short road trip away.
Natural beauty isn't hard to find in Full Sail's neck of the woods. Some of the best spots to get up close and personal with nature are freshwater springs where you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
You're going to want to see the manatees. And the place to see them is Blue Spring State Park, where hundreds flock during the cooler months to stay warm in Florida's natural springs.
Looking for a fishing spot? St. Johns River, the longest river in Florida, is great for freshwater fish, while shoreline fishers will want to visit Titusville's mangrove forests and lagoons.