What’s Open in Coronavirus Shutdown in Orlando: Parks, Beaches, Hikes You Can Do While Social Distancing
It's the first weekend of spring in Orlando and that normally brings inspiration to us here at Mommy Poppins.
Of course, we all know these are not normal times in the Sunshine State. As precautions against the spread of the coronavirus continue, public events, particularly with kids, remain limited and fluid.
So many weekend events have been canceled or postponed, but there are some outdoor activities that are continuing with safety precautions in place. Call or research before heading out. With a bit of imagination we just might make it through coronavirus lockdown.
We have previously documented several "evergreen" and indoor activities so you can manage your kids' cabin fever should you choose to avoid public and outdoor events. We've also posted a roundup of some of the best virtual storytimes, sing-alongs, STEM activities, and more that you can access here. You also might want to check our rundown of our favorite family films.
Lastly, a word on our events calendar: Events listed in the calendar whose statuses we have confirmed should be clearly noted. Those with plans to go forward once the virus abates are labeled "postponed." Those with no plans to reschedule are noted as "canceled."
In this environment, it is a challenge to keep up with all canceled or postponed events, so we beg a bit of indulgence from readers who have been so loyal to us.
Coronavirus-Related Closings in Orlando
Our post on Orlando-area coronavirus closings has the latest on theme parks, government buildings, and schools that have temporarily closed in the region. In the mood for a good read? Check out New York correspondent Susan Miele's post from inside that state's containment zone. Also, our coronavirus activities guide contains hundreds of activities for parents and kids during this extended time off from school.
Whenever the virus abates, know that your friends at Mommy Poppins Orlando will be with you with updates on the best family happenings in the area. Remember to sign up for our FREE newsletters to receive posts such as this right to your inbox.
So on to what's possible this weekend and beyond:
Icon Park and its trademark "Wheel" are open with enhanced safety precautions. Photo courtesy of ICON Park
The walkable entertainment park in Orlando's downtown remains open despite the coronavirus crisis. The featured attraction is, of course, "The Wheel," a 400-foot-high Ferris wheel that offers 20-minute, panaromic views of the city. A message on the park's website says it is employing enhanced cleaning procedures with hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes available at key entry points. "Wheel" capsules, it says, are being cleaned after each use.
The Central Florida Zoo is, of course, closed. But some attractions in the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne remain open, including its popular Treetop Trek aerial adventure park and other outdoor attractions. Administrators warn, however, that as situations develop additional precautions could be required, which could include a temporary closure of the entire zoo.
The theme park on North International Drive says it has doubled the amount of hand sanitizing stations and made other safety enhancements. Visitors can enjoy traditional theme park thrill rides, carnival and midway games, and arcade fun.
Swashbuckling adventures continue at the popular dinner theater on Carrier Drive. Hand sanitizer is plentiful and food comes covered from servers who now wear gloves. Groups are spaced more liberally than before
Florida state parks remain open for day use. Visitors might find offices and museums unstaffed, however. Hiking trails, fishing docks, beaches, golf courses, and other amenities are available for visitors seeking quiet time in nature. Wekiwa Springs State Park is just minutes from downtown Orlando and features miles of trails that can be trekked by foot or bike as well as natural azure springs that have attracted visitors for generations. Other nearby state parks include Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont and Blue Spring State Park in Orange City.
Florida's naturally flat terain is ideal for young hkers. So break that cabin fever and get out for a quick loop around Lake Eola or Lake Baldwin, or near Mead Botanical Garden. Most trails are less than a mile, perfect for little legs and new navigators. Trail maps are available here.
7. Catch a Family Film at a Florida Drive-In
Believe it or not, there are still drive-in movie theaters in Florida, including several in Central Florida. So you can keep up to date on your family movie watching from the comfort of your car's interior. Enjoy new releases or classic family favorites. Nearby drive-ins are located in Ocala, Lakeland, and Dade City.
Orlando's location in Central Florida, near both I-4 and Florida's Turnpike, makes it a perfect starting point for a day trip. St. Augustine, America's oldest city, loaded with charm and culture, is less than a two-hour drive north. Singer Island is about the same distance to the south. Southwest of Orlando, on the Gulf Coast, lies Siesta Key and Sarasota, regarded as two of the most family-friendly beach communities in Florida. You can practice your social distancing at state parks and hiking trails in these communities and explore new parts of Florida in the process.