With a size of just 5.6 square miles and a population of around 13,500 at the last census, Longwood is one of the smaller towns in Florida. It is noted for being home to two of the oldest trees in the U.S, which date back over 2,000 years – The Senator and Lady Liberty, both used by the Native American tribes as reference points.
Located around 13 miles – a 30-minute drive – from Orlando, this is a nice, quiet place to establish yourself. It’s just far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy the Florida countryside, but near enough to drive in if you want to explore an attraction there for half a day, or go out for dinner or drinks in the evening.
Here are the best 15 things to do in Longwood, FL.
1. Planet Obstacle
This amusement park is a great day out for the kids and allows them to blow off some steam during their holidays.
It includes 50,000 square feet of space and is laid out to simulate America Ninja Warrior, the cult classic TV show. Features include an extreme zip-line, aerial ropes course, a giant rock-climbing adventure, and an adult ninja course. There are also bungees, trampolines, dodgems, and a ball pit.
Located near Emma Oakes trail, Planet Obstacle also includes a Sky Cafe for you to indulge your children with some classic American fast food when they are done playing.
2. Cross Seminole Trail
This impressive trail is divided into three separate paths that it is hoped will one day converge into one 23 mile trail. It stretches from the edges of Orlando to the famous Lake Mary.
The trail offers a wide variety of different scenery for you to enjoy on foot throughout the day. From architectural feats of design – in the way of bridges near the busier built-up areas – to some off-the-beaten-track, quieter countryside, the Cross Seminole Trail has something for everyone.
Some sites to look out for on your way are the pedestrian bridge near Route 434, Soldier’s Creek Park, and Big Tree Park in Longwood itself.
3. Lake Concord Park
At nine acres, this park is very much the cultural and musical heart of Longwood. The park serves as the venue for the local Casselberry Jazz Concert, a big part of the local calendar.
The park also contains a water play area that is interactive, a sculpture garden, and an amphitheater – as well as a boardwalk and some fountains, all of which are great for kids to play in.
4. Lil 500 Go-Karts
First opened in 1968, Lil 500 Go-Karts in Maitland is a must-do attraction when you’re in the Orlando area around Longwood.
The circuit is adult and child-friendly: grown-ups and kids can ride together with the dual controlled steering installed in selected cars.
If you have children who are little boy (or girl!) racers, then be sure to book them in for a session. With three different tracks, there’s bound to be something for everyone. The family track is more for the very youngest riders, aged 1-8, and is the oldest of the three tracks. The motto track is aimed at riders over eight years old and is a little bit more intense, while the fast track is for those over the age of 10.
5. Bradlee Mcintyre House
This Victorian house was first built in 1885. It is an example of Victorian cottage and Queen Anne style architecture, which is relatively rare in America. In fact, it is the only surviving example of such in the local area.
With 13 different rooms to explore, the house is open to visitors. It was originally located in Altamonte Springs, but in the 1990s, was moved to its current location.
One of its most unique features is the octagonal tower that gives it an interesting character.
6. Red Bug Lake Park
This is very much an active park and the place to come and get fit. There are a host of activities that you can do here; join the adult softball league or the adult tennis leagues – there’s even a league for children.
You can also go fishing, use the tennis courts, or go for a walk around the beautiful pier and lake.
There’s even a playground for younger kids to enjoy themselves if they’re not yet up to the softball or tennis league.
7. Lake Hodge Park
This five-acre park is another place in town where you can get into shape if the weather isn’t too hot. With a basketball court, a playground, and a tennis court, there is no shortage of workout options.
The fishing pier and picnic facilities are also excellent if you want to take it easy for a little while.
The park is located off Osceola Trail in Casselberry. It is sandwiched between Lake Kathryn to the west and Lake Fairy to the south, with the route 17 road running between them.
8. Paint the Trail
On the Seminole Wekiva Trail, there is a panel of fences that brightens up your ride. A host of pop-art style portraits of famous artists adorn the panels. So what’s it all about?
Artist Jeff Sonksen was made redundant during the recent global financial crisis and decided to do something about it. His back garden fence backed onto the trail, so he started painting his own artwork on it.
Three years later, he has asked homeowners all along the trail to volunteer their fences to his artwork in the hope of creating a series of portraits that stretches for miles.
9. Lake Lotus
This lake is situated on a nature preserve of around 150 acres, 120 acres of which is wood and wetlands. It was first settled in the early 1800s, but soon saw rapid development after the railways came through town.
It was purchased by the City of Altamonte Springs in 1972. Today, it includes a variety of activities for the average user to enjoy, including a boardwalk, a fishing pier, a picnic pavilion, as well as pavilions for private rental.
There is even an education center to learn about the local area and the different types of wildlife that you can find in the vicinity.
10. Masjid Al Hayy Mosque
This spectacular mosque is an unusual sight in the middle of Florida, but it is a place that can only be described as breathtakingly beautiful. Located in nearby Sanford, the white marble of the mosque looks like an ancient Middle Eastern palace that wouldn’t seem out of place in Turkey or historical Arabia.
Even if you’re not religious, a visit to the mosque is a must, simply to see it and enjoy the warm hospitality of those that practice their faith there on a regular basis.
It’s a cultural activity not to be missed, and something different to experience on your Floridian adventure.
11. Lake Jesup Park
Also located in Sanford, this six-acre park is the main gateway into Lake Jesup, one of the larger lakes in the area. But while the park itself is relatively small in relation to the 16,000-acre lake, there is a much larger conservation area.
The lake is infamous, locally, for having a large number of alligators circling the waters. So, this is the perfect place to come for a bit of gater-spotting, though do be careful not to go for a swim. Other animals you might see at Lake Jesup include a variety of eagle species.
The lake is named after Brigadier General Thomas Jesup (1788-1860) who was involved in the 1835- 1842 Second Seminole War, which involved putting down various Native American tribes known as the Seminole’s and claiming the land for the European settlers.
12. Greenwood Lakes Park
Located north-west of Lake Jenna and near Greenwood Lakes Middle School, Greenwood Lakes Park was first opened in 1990.
This park is a kids paradise and has everything they could ever need to get active. With 14 acres of land for them to play on, they will never feel trapped or enclosed.
But they don’t have to entertain themselves; there are two volleyball courts, a roller hockey rink, and three tennis courts. On top of this, there are two playgrounds for younger and older kids, a picnic table, and a signposted jogging trail.
13. Secret Lake Park
Everybody loves a secret, but this park is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Casselberry.
With a park-wide boardwalk and sidewalk, there’s plenty of time for quiet contemplation and reflection in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of life in America.
But if getting active is more your thing, be sure to check out the facilities for basketball, softball, tennis, racquetball, and soccer.
14. Spring Hammock Preserve
As the name suggests, Spring Hammock Preserve is a place to enjoy gentle relaxation and incredible views in the springtime. It’s a great hiking trail, though two-thirds of it are in fact swamp.
One of the great things about it is the sheer amount of interesting varieties of plant life that can be found here. There is a rare couplet fern and host of poplars, among hundreds of other plants to discover.
Some of the attractions to check out include the Magnolia Trail, the Osprey Trail, and the Mud Walk Pavilion.
15. Seminole-Wekiva Trail
This 14-mile trail was built on a former railway line – the Orange Belt. It connects to the Cross Seminole Trail, and, as with the Cross Seminole Trail, there are plans for an extension.
Some of the key sites to see here include San Sebastian Trailhead, the Jones Trailhead, the softball complex, and the Markham Trailhead.