It can be downright hot, humid, and unbearable in Orlando, especially during the summer months. But you don't have to stay inside to be comfortable. With natural springs and some fun beaches, the city offers locals and visitors a variety of cheap or free places to swim throughout the year so you can have fun outdoors even when the weather is anything but delightful.
The temperature of Central Florida's springs remains in the low 70s F year-round, providing residents and tourists a refreshing break from Orlando’s hot summer sun. The springs are also home to manatees during the winter, when temperatures drop in local rivers and lakes. But swimming in the cool water isn't the only draw; other popular activities include canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.
Florida’s state parks are open from 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. Entry fees typically range from $4 to $10 per car, making the springs very affordable swimming destinations, but it's always wise to call ahead or check the website to determine the cost of each park before visiting.
Of all of Central Florida’s springs, Kelly Park and Rock Springs Run are at the top of most residents’ lists of places to visit. The reason for this destination’s popularity is that it offers a lot more than just swimming; visitors to the 245-acre park enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding, canoeing and tubing, one of the biggest draws to the park.
Tubing at Rock Springs Run is free with park admission if you bring your own inner tube or you can rent a tube for $7 per day from one of the vendors just outside the park. The water is clear and remains 68 F year-round, making it a perfect place to spend a hot day.
Splash pads are popular play spots for children of all ages. They offer an escape from the Central Florida heat while providing kids an outlet for excess energy. Some are bigger and more elaborate than others, and most are attached to parks with playgrounds, but all are free or cheap in the Orlando area.
Not all Orlando splash pads are open year-round, and some close for specific periods in the middle of the day for cleaning or maintenance. Call ahead for hours and fees before visiting.
Public pools in Orlando offer residents an affordable and safe place to swim. Many also provide additional community benefits, such as low-cost exercise programs, swim lessons, summer camps, and private and group rental opportunities.
Some Orlando pools are open year-round, while others only remain open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Residents can pay per visit or buy seasonal swim passes to save money. Always check online or by calling to confirm hours and fees before visiting.
Orlando’s central location gives you a chance to visit either coast for an ocean swim, but locals generally prefer the East Coast beaches because of their proximity, large expanses of white sand, and warm rolling waves.
Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach, both about an hour's drive from Orlando, are two popular spots for spending a day in the sun, but most of the Atlantic Coast is accessible if you want to find a more secluded spot.
Some areas allow driving on the beach, so look into that before visiting with small children. And check water conditions and warnings before heading to the coast.