Located near Orlando in central Florida’s Orange County, Ocoee had a population of just more than 35,000 residents at the time of the last census.
The city’s interesting history dates to the mid-1800s, when a local plantation was overrun with malaria and the plantation owner led a group of sick slaves to the then-undeveloped area in the hope the fresh air and water would help the outbreak.
Thankfully, Florida’s malaria days are long gone. Now, Ocoee offers visitors a variety of outdoor, cultural, and family-friendly recreation options.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Ocoee, Florida.
1. Bill Breeze Park
Located on North Lakeshore Drive, Bill Breeze Park is a relaxed and natural setting near the center of town that offers guests a great place to temporarily escape life’s hustle and bustle without spending hours in the car driving to a remote area.
The park includes walking paths that follow the lake’s shore, and there are plenty of easy access areas and docks for those who’d like to do a little fishing.
There are also covered pavilions and open grass areas perfect for picnics, sunbathing, or lounging with a good book.
The park is free to visit and open daily from 7 AM until 10 PM.
2. West Orange Cinema
Movie theaters are often overlooked as vacation activities, but during the summer months when the Florida weather can be downright unpleasant, indoor, air-conditioned attractions are at a premium.
West Orange Cinema is smaller than many of its national mega-chain competitors, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character and charm.
The cinema offers special summer movie deals in both 2D and 3D; they even have a number of summer programs for school children.
Tickets can be bought at the box office or online, and it’s best to arrive early before the best seats get taken.
3. Family Aquatic Center
The Family Aquatic Center on Mims Road in Ocoee is another popular dog-days of summer destination that’s been known to keep families cool and engaged for hours on end.
The center opens for the season in May and includes a variety of amenities for children of all ages, as well as adults.
For little ones who haven’t yet learned to swim, there’s a zero-depth pool. For those with children who can swim on their own but need supervision, there are plenty of covered seating areas for parents who’d prefer to watch from a safe distance.
They offer children’s swimming lessons too, so check their website for details.
4. Withers-Maguire House
Since 1987, the Withers-Maguire House in Ocoee has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the perfect place to visit for history-minded travelers interested in learning about the area’s interesting past.
The house features Queen Anne style architecture that was all the rage when it was built in the late-1880s.
Located on East Oakland Avenue in town, the house is full of period art, furniture, and housewares, as well as historical plaques that give visitors insight into the lives of those who lived there more than 130 years ago.
5. Princesses & Princes Playground
Princesses and Princes Playground is a local, veteran-owned business dedicated to providing children with a safe, engaging, and educational recreation option. It features a variety of interactive activities and a well-trained staff.
Located on East Silver Star Road in Ocoee, they even offer parents the option of dropping their children off for up to three hours of supervised play time while they run errands or just enjoy a little alone time.
Check out their webpage for schedules and activities and the bio pages of their employees. The facility is also available for birthday parties but must be reserved well in advance.
6. West Orange Trail
Though summertime in Florida can be unpleasantly hot, for much of the year, the Sunshine State is blessed with near-perfect weather. For visitors looking to enjoy the great outdoors, the West Orange Trail in Winter Garden is a great place to do just that.
The trail winds its way for more than 20 miles through a variety of natural habitats that are scenic and historical, and dotted with playgrounds, seating areas, and parks.
For travelers who didn’t bring their own gear, bike rentals are available; many families choose to make a day of it and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way.
The trail passes through Oakland, Apopka, and Winter Garden, and is accessible at four major stations.
7. Forest Lake Golf Club
Florida has more golf courses per capita than any other state; though many of them are expensive and exclusive, some are reasonably priced and open to the public.
Located on Clarcona Ocoee Road in nearby Apopka, Forest Lake Golf Club is spread over more than 200 scenic acres and is known for its natural lakes and treed areas.
The par 72, 18-hole course plays slightly more than 7,200 yards and features a variety of tees, which makes it appropriate for players of most ages and skill levels.
The course offers a beverage cart service, and there’s a popular bar and grill on site that’s known for its tasty grub and cold drinks.
8. Municipal Lakefront Park
Ocoee and the surrounding towns are dotted with dozens of lakes of varying shapes and sizes, providing residents and visitors with a variety of recreation options.
Located on North Lakeshore Drive, Municipal Lakefront Park is one of Ocoee’s most visited parks and a favorite of walkers, bird watchers, and fishermen.
The park’s amenities include restrooms, a boat ramp, and dedicated fishing dock that’s a great place to teach children the fine art of angling.
There are large covered pavilions available to rent for parties and special occasions, and Ocoee residents get a 10% discount on all costs.
9. Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ
The American South has always been big barbecue country, and for those who aren’t too concerned with counting calories, watching their waistlines, or eating healthy, there are a variety of restaurants available to choose from.
Located on Moore Road in Ocoee, Ellie Lou’s Brews and BBQ is a local favorite of the beer and barbecue crowd. It is particularly well-known for its relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere, generous serving sizes, and reasonable prices.
Their menu even includes some gluten-free options, and savvy eaters can choose from four distinct barbecue sauces for their ribs, chicken, sandwiches, and chopped barbecue.
10. Crooked Can Brewing Company
Located on West Plant Street in nearby Winter Garden, Crooked Can Brewing Company is known for its wide variety of craft brews, full menu, and family and pet-friendly environment.
Crooked Can features beers with a wide range of flavor profiles, so finding something you like shouldn’t be a problem. Unlike many craft breweries, they offer a full menu that includes burgers, wings, and even a selection of vegan items.
Brewery tours are offered for those who’d like to learn the science behind the beer, and guests will get to sample a few different varieties along the way.
They’re open daily with extended weekend hours.
11. Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
Known for its varied habitats and idyllic setting, the Tibet Butler Nature Preserve in Orlando is a wonderfully convenient escape destination for those looking for a little time in nature.
The preserve’s trails range from nearly four miles to less than a half a mile and lead through pine and oak forests and wetlands; they’re generally appropriate for visitors of most ages and levels of physical ability.
The preserve’s protected butterfly garden is a big hit with children, and there’s an environmental center onsite that’s an excellent place to stop first; it’ll give you an overview of the preserve’s layout and amenities.
12. Winter Garden Farmers Market
With such an abundance of warm weather, sun, and rain, it’s no wonder that Florida is home to so many farmers markets; the Winter Garden Farmers Market is one of the most extensive in the Ocoee area.
Open every Saturday from 9 AM until 2 PM, in addition to its fantastic variety of fresh seasonal produce, the market offers guests many other items, including health and body products, arts and crafts, and a huge assortment of prepared food items.
Dogs are welcome as long as they’re kept on leashes, and there’s live entertainment most days as well.
13. Central Florida Railroad Museum
Located on South Boyd Street in Winter Garden, the Central Florida Railroad Museum is a free attraction that’s a must-see for history and railroad buffs who find themselves with an hour or two to kill.
The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the role railroads have played in the development of the central Florida region specifically. The items on display include equipment, photographs, memorabilia, and first-hand accounts of interesting and historically significant moments in local transportation history.
The museum is open every day from 1 until 5 PM, and most guests find that their experience far outweighs their expectations.
14. Garden Theatre
Intermittently since 1935, the Garden Theatre on West Plant Street in Winter Garden has been offering guests high-quality performances by both upcoming local talent and nationally known figures.
The theatre’s historic Mediterranean architectural style, balconies, and painted fresco ceiling give it loads more charm than many of its more modern contemporaries. Though it closed for a time in the ‘60s, it was purchased by the city in 2002 and has since undergone significant renovations to bring it back up to snuff.
Visit the calendar of events section of their website to see what’s on the schedule for when you’ll be in the area.
15. Kraft Azalea Garden
Located on more than 10 acres of public land on the shores of Winter Park’s Lake Maitland, the Kraft Azalea Garden is open year-round from 8 AM until sundown and is one of the region’s most visited natural attractions.
In addition to its namesake – azaleas – the gardens feature a variety of wooded and open areas that are great for walking, exploring, or enjoying a relaxing afternoon and picnic lunch with your significant other.
Due to its idyllic setting and natural splendor, the park is a favorite destination for romantic types looking to make a good impression on their love interests, so don’t be surprised if you witness an actual proposal or two.