Turkey Lake Park
3401 Hiawassee Road, Orlando 32835
(407) 299-5581, (407) 299-5594
Admission: $4 per car ($2 if it’s just the driver)
Hours: Daily 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. November to March; 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. April to October
Location: From I-4 Exit 75 take Kirkman north, turn left onto Conroy then right onto Hiawassee to park entrance, about 4 miles total
Just a stone’s throw from the hurly-burly of Universal Orlando, the city of Orlando has created a 300-acre oasis along the shores of Turkey Lake. Officially called the Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, this beautifully landscaped and maintained park offers picnicking, hiking along seven miles of nature trails, biking along a three-mile bike path, and a number of other diversions. The picnic areas are close to the lake with beautiful shaded tables and “picnic pavilions” (additional charge). There are nearby kiddie play areas and sandy “beaches” but no lake swimming. Instead there is a large pool overlooking the lovely lake. A fishing pier lets you test your angling skills against largemouth bass and other species. If you prefer to fish from a boat, you can rent one for $15.00. Thursday through Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Call (407) 299-1248 to make a reservation.
Across the park, an “all children’s” playground offers an enormous wood and car-tire wonderland that will offer little ones hours of exploration and fun. Shaded gazebos nearby keep Mom and Dad out of the sun. No eating here, however, as food draws rats and other not-so-welcome wildlife. Next door is a “Cracker” farm featuring an authentic 100-year-old barn, to give kids an idea of what pioneer Florida looked and felt like.
There’s camping here, too. Cabins that sleep up to 10 are available for $35 per night. “Family” camp sites for trailers and RVs are $15 per night including electricity and water. If you need a sewer hookup as well, the price is $18. The area is beautifully shaded, with picnic tables and barbecue pits. A “primitive” camping area nearby is less shady, but at $7 per four-person tent, the price may be right. Camping requires reservations.
Nearby: Universal Orlando.
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