15 Best Things to Do in Ocoee (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Only 15 minutes west of downtown Orlando, Ocoee is a city that was mostly given over to fruit farming until the 21st century.

Even now, I love how you can pick your own blueberries here in spring. You can also buy local produce at a working farm right in the city, with goats, sheep and ducks. 

Ocoee’s main place to gather is a stunning waterfront park by Starke Lake. In March, this is the setting for the Ocoee Music Festival, welcoming a lot of well-known acts.

Winter Garden, with its bustling downtown, is five minutes from Ocoee. On Saturdays there’s an acclaimed farmers’ market, while the West Orange Trail connects Ocoee with this and a host of other communities in Orlando’s western suburbs.

1. Bill Breeze Park

Bill Breeze ParkSource: Perris Tumbao / shutterstock
Bill Breeze Park

On Starke Lake, Bill Breeze Park is a scenic waterfront park, hosting annual events like the Music Festival. 

There’s a path hugging the water by Lakeshore Drive, with a line of pavilions among the trees and landscaping here.

These have picnic tables and a charcoal grill, and are available on a first come, first served basis. I can’t think of many more beautiful places to be than this spot when the sun comes up over the lake. 

Other amenities include a boat ramp and a fishing dock, while there’s a pretty fountain in the lake at the north end of the park.

2. West Orange Cinema

West Orange CinemaSource: West Orange 5 / Facebook
West Orange Cinema

I love coming across an independent movie theater, and there’s a great one in Ocoee, off State Road 50.

With five screens, 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.

You don’t get modern perks like reclining seats, but the sound and picture are still great. What’s more, you can order beer and wine here, and there are even tables for your snacks. 

One of the popular specials here is the discounted Summer Kids’ Shows, on Wednesdays throughout the school summer break.

3. Family Aquatic Center

Family Aquatic Center, OcoeeSource: Mayor Rusty Johnson / Facebook
Family Aquatic Center, Ocoee

By the Jim Beech Recreation Center, this public aquatic facility will keep families cool and engaged for hours on end.

The center is open May-September, and includes a variety of amenities for younger members of the family.

The pool here has zero-depth entry, which is ideal for little ones who haven’t yet learned to swim. There’s a maximum depth of just four feet, and three different play features. 

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.

Ocoee’s Recreation Department offers children’s swimming lessons too, so check their website for details.

4. Withers-Maguire House

Withers-Maguire HouseSource: Ebyabe / Wikimedia
Withers-Maguire House

One of the oldest and finest residences in Orange County sits right next to Bill Breeze Park in Ocoee. 

Now owned by the city, Withers-Maguire House features Gothic Stick architecture that was all the rage when it was built in the late 1880s. One interesting fact I picked up here is that the pine used for the construction was cut on this very site. 

Touring this residence you’ll get insights about the lifestyle of the people who made their fortunes in the local citrus industry, which dominated the economy for almost a century. 

The first floor serves as an event space, while there are compelling historical exhibits for Ocoee upstairs.

5. West Orange Trail

West Orange TrailSource: Wikimedia
West Orange Trail

This 34-mile trail is a fantastic way to make the most of the marvelous scenery around Ocoee.

On the route of several abandoned railroads, the West Orange Trail passes through the north end of the city. The most convenient trailhead is the Ingram Outpost at 3024 Sugar Magnolia Dr, where there’s a small parking area. 

The trail winds through natural habitats, vibrant downtowns, and historical sites, and also passes by several playgrounds and seating areas. 

For travelers who didn’t bring their own gear, bike rentals are available close by in downtown Winter Garden. This is an excellent place to stop for lunch, or you time your trip for the farmers’ market on Saturdays.

6. Lake Meadow Naturals

If you’re like me and take an interest in food provenance, this organic farm in Ocoee definitely warrants a visit. 

Lake Meadow Naturals is a working farm, with a stellar farm market. You can shop here for free range duck and chicken eggs, which are the farm’s specialty.

Other great products on the shelves are seasonal vegetables, fresh bread, coffee, fruit spreads, olive oil, raw honey, granola, cheeses, pastured meats, and poultry.

Coming to Lake Meadow Naturals you get a true farm experience. That means you’ll see a lot of barnyard animals, all of which are happy and well cared for.

7. Tom West Blueberries

Thanks to the warm climate, springtime in Central Florida means blueberries by the bushel. There’s a U-Pick farm right here in Ocoee, just a few seconds from Bill Breeze Park. 

Tom West Blueberries harks back to the end of WWII, when agriculture was Ocoee’s lifeblood. Now in its third generation, the farm once cultivated a range of fruit before deciding to stick with blueberries.

These are grown on almost 30 acres, and there’s a picturesque little lake on the property. As well as picking some of the finest blueberries in the region, families can visit for tractor rides and boat rides.

Best of all for me were the treats at the farm stand, like blueberry popsicles and fresh-baked blueberry muffins.

8. Ocoee Music Festival

Going back more than three decades, Ocoee cuts loose with a big celebration every March. This was the Ocoee Founders’ Day Festival until a recent name change.

In the early days there were just a few hundred attendees at this event. The year I put this list together more than 45,000 people attended the Ocoee Music Festival.

Along with world-famous performers, there’s a carnival marketplace, beer garden, kids’ activities, car show, and food for all tastes.

Some headline acts from the past few editions are Joan Jett, Vanilla Ice, Night Ranger, The Mavericks, Chris Janson, Niko Moon, and Russell Dickerson.

9. Forest Lake Golf Club

Forest Lake Golf ClubSource: Forest Lake Golf Club / Facebook
Forest Lake Golf Club

A common problem for Florida’s hundreds of golf courses is poor drainage following heavy rainfall. This isn’t a problem here in the Central Florida Ridges and Uplands, unique for their sandy soils.

The par 72, 18-hole course at Forest Lakes Golf Club is a delight, with little impact on its environment. I love how the lakes, live oaks, pines and palms here are all naturally occurring. One unforgettable hole for was the par-3 #14, with a nerve-wracking tee shot over water. 

The course plays slightly more than 7,200 yards, and there’s a variety of tees, which makes it appropriate for players of most ages and skill levels.

There’s a beverage cart service, and you’ve got the Rusty Niblick Pub for tasty grub and cold drinks.

10. GameTime Ocoee

An alternative for rainy days, this indoor entertainment center is a bit like Dave & Buster’s. What you get is a restaurant/sports bar at the heart of an enormous arcade.

Spread across more than 25,000 square feet, this has more than 120 machines. Among them are dozens of brand new and retro video game machines.

Added to that are prize games, claw cranes, air hockey, rhythm games, and the world’s largest pacman machine. One thing I really liked here was the mini bowling alley, with eight lanes and HD displays showing the basketball playoffs.

The sports bar has screens almost everywhere you look, and a full menu of American classics, from pizza to buffalo chicken wraps.

11. Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ

Ellie Lou's Brews & BBQSource: Ellie Lou's Brews & BBQ / Facebook
Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ

Part of a Central Florida mini-chain with just three locations, Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ is a go-to if you want barbeque in the Orlando area. This is the brainchild of a pitmaster with more than 30 years in the game.

One thing that gets me about this place is that it’s not wedded to any particular style. If you’re about sweet and smoky flavors, go for the Memphis Sauce.

Meanwhile, If you prefer the mustard and vinegar zip of Carolina style BBQ then you’ve got that here too. For those who don’t mind a little pain, the Southern Lava Sauce is made with Ghost Pepper extract and Habanero Peppers.

The sides are fantastic too, from collard greens to the blue cheese slaw, corn muffins, cheese grits, okra, and mac and cheese.

12. Crooked Can Brewing Company

Crooked Can Brewing CompanySource: Crooked Can Brewing Company / Facebook
Crooked Can Brewing Company

This craft brewery in Winter Garden is based at the Plant St. Market, a truly international food hall.

From IPAs to malty Belgian ales, Crooked Can has a lineup with a wide range of flavor profiles, so finding something you like shouldn’t be a problem. 

I took a shine to Cloud Chaser Hefeweizen when I was here. This was one of seven core beers, and several more seasonal brewers. Unlike many craft breweries, you can pair the right beer with the right food thanks to Plant St. Market. 

Under one roof there’s sushi, empanadas, ceviche, BBQ, mac and cheese, coal-fired pizza, grilled cheese, and more than I can list here.

13. Winter Garden Farmers Market

Winter Garden Farmers MarketSource: Winter Garden Farmers Market / Facebook
Winter Garden Farmers Market

In Ocoee you’re a matter of minutes from one of America’s very best farmers’ markets, with 100+ vendors. Happening every Saturday from 9 AM until 1 PM, the Winter Garden Farmers’ Market has a permanent pavilion downtown. 

If I have to pinpoint the best time to visit, it would be around October, in time for Central Florida’s abundant fall harvest. Local farmers make up around a fifth of all the vendors here. 

As well as a variety of fresh seasonal produce, the market features many other items. For a snapshot you’ve got spices, salsas, herbs, health and body products, arts and crafts, and a huge assortment of prepared food.

Dogs are welcome as long as they’re kept on a leash. There’s also live entertainment most days, and themed events all year round.

14. Central Florida Railroad Museum

Central Florida Railroad MuseumSource: Central Florida Railroad Museum / Facebook
Central Florida Railroad Museum

Another reason I recommend a visit to Winter Garden is for this railroad museum, housed in the Tavares & Gulf Railroad depot (1913). 

The museum explores the key role that the railroads played in the development of Central Florida. Stepping inside, you’ll be wowed by the sheer volume of artifacts crammed into this small space. 

Items on display include lamps, clocks, signs, photographs, tools, uniforms, charts, and a rare collection of passenger china and silver service. The model railroad and Thomas the Tank Engine track will thrill younger visitors. 

The museum is open every day from 1 until 5 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.

15. Garden Theatre

Garden TheatreSource: Garden Theatre / Facebook
Garden Theatre

Since 2008, downtown Winter Garden has had a top-notch stage for live entertainment. This building, dating back to 1935, was originally a movie theater, but was converted into a farm supply store just a few decades later. 

The theater was purchased by the city in 2004, and went through a complete restoration, bringing its glorious Mediterranean Revival architecture back to life.

The courtyard-style design, palms, ‘windows’ over the proscenium arch, and night sky ceiling endow this venue with endless charm. 

On the menu are Broadway shows, plays, live comedy, dance performances, and concerts by important artists and tribute acts. 

The Broadway on Plant Series brings the crowds. There was a superb production of Dreamgirls when I was in town, and I had a fine old time.

15 Best Things to Do in Ocoee (FL):

  • Bill Breeze Park
  • West Orange Cinema
  • Family Aquatic Center
  • Withers-Maguire House
  • West Orange Trail
  • Lake Meadow Naturals
  • Tom West Blueberries
  • Ocoee Music Festival
  • Forest Lake Golf Club
  • GameTime Ocoee
  • Ellie Lou's Brews & BBQ
  • Crooked Can Brewing Company
  • Winter Garden Farmers Market
  • Central Florida Railroad Museum
  • Garden Theatre