Summer’s winding down and that means two things: It’s not so unbearably hot all the time and you might want to start looking at your summer fling a little more seriously. A little less “let’s hangout” and a little more, “hey, let’s go on a date.” Why avoid talking to each other for a couple hours at a movie when the weather’s turning oh-so-perfect ? Here are a few ideas for outdoor dates around Orlando that will create a more memorable experience.
1. Night Zip in Ocala
Leave Orlando around sunset and head northwest for a little over a while and you’ll run into Ocala. It’s a rural town that has one of the thrilling nighttime adventures out there—a night zip line. During the day Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours run guided zip-line tours that are chocked-full of fun, but it’s a completely new experience at night. Fly across five zip lines, cross a rope bridge, and your final flight is across the moonlit water.
2. Get Lost in the Corn Mazes
They say a true test of a relationship is a road trip, or more specifically, when you get lost on a road trip and you have to ask for directions. Save the road trip for a latter date and test your skills at navigating through a corn maze. The Smith Family Ranch hosts a spectacular fall festival, and the Egyptian wheat maze will challenge the most intrepid explorer. The ranch also features other farm games, a petting zoo, hayrides, a bounce pillow and plenty to eat and drink. You can even take a ride on “Big Allis” the monster tractor. With so many autumn adventures to explore on the ranch, you'll have no trouble finding your fall festive spirit!
3. Bike to the Neighborhood Market
Take your date to the grocery store? Not exactly. You can bike, walk, skate, or run to get there, but you need to check out what East End Market has to offer. The market features classes like yoga, cooking, or even gardening that are perfect for couples. Or stock up for a picnic with some of the fresh produce and goodies some of the vendors have to offer. And if you love coffee then you’re going to love what Lineage Coffee Roasting has got brewing up.
4. Tear Up Some Singletrack
All summer you’ve grinded it out on the singletrack through the sweltering heat. Now the weather conditions are turning perfect to get your significant other out there with you. If they’re not already into it, we know we’ve got to make it a great experience and that starts with some comfortable weather.
The 9,300 acre Hal Scott Preserve, which was established to help preserve the area along the Econlockhatchee River, has nearly 17 miles of trail to explore. The trails in Hal Scott Preserve consist of 3 large loops: White, Yellow and Red. The terrain on each trail is fairly similar. You’ll alternate between grass and hard packed sand. Don’t expect to find many roots or hills, as this area is very flat. So if your date isn't so sure about off-road riding, this is a great place to find out why it’s so much fun.
5. Ride in a Critical Mass
Take back the streets of Orlando together with hundreds of others on the last Friday of every month at the Critical Mass bike ride in downtown Orlando. It's a casual ride for to help promote alternative forms of transportation, so you can find out quickly if you and your date are on the same page when it comes to cycling. Afterward, you can stop at the Hourglass Brewery for a drink. It’s one of the only breweries around Orlando, and you will usually find six or more of its own beers on tap, which they rotate out with other craft beers as well, depending on the season.
Don’t want to get political on a date? Create your own bike ride that ends at a local watering hole. We've got five options you to help inspire you.
6. Hike Sections of the Florida Trail
Hiking season in Florida starts in the fall. The Florida Trail, one of our National Scenic Trails, runs right through Central Florida and really close to Orlando. Some of the best trails for hiking in central Florida can be found in Seminole State Forest in Eustis, Florida. With more than 23 miles of multi-use trails, 8 miles of which are part of the Florida Trail, this is a great area that you will return to again and again, whether it be for hiking or trail running. Hop on a section of the trail for a day hike or plan a night or two out together underneath the stars.
7. Paddling at Blue Springs State Park
Blue Spring State Park is located in Orange City, Florida about 50 miles north of Orlando. Blue Spring is the largest spring on the St. Johns River, and it is the habitat for more than 15 threatened or endangered plants and animals. While paddling along the St. Johns River and the neighboring lakes you will have the opportunity to see animals such as gar, sunfish, turtles, alligators, and even manatees. Once you've launched your boat, you can exit Blue Springs Run and begin heading down the St. Johns River. While heading south from the spring you will pass a small opening that will lead to an enticing body of water called “The Lagoon.” In addition to The Lagoon, you will have the option of paddling down Snake Creek or you can keep going north towards Lake Beresford.
If you do not have your own equipment, canoes and kayaks can be rented at St. Johns River Cruises located along the St. Johns River. They also offer guided kayak tours along the river.