Established in 1937 as a memorial to world-renowned horticulturalist Theodore L. Mead, Winter Garden’s original showcase of camellias was reborn in the 1960s with community volunteers enhancing the property with nature trails, boardwalks, and formal gardens. This 47 acre urban preserve is a mix of natural habitats – many under restoration after the 2004 hurricanes – and planted areas. An easy loop of less than a mile highlights the best views on the premises.
Location: Winter Park
Length: 0.6 mile
Lat-Long: 28.584522, -81.358184
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: moderate
Restroom: near parking area
Open 8 AM to dusk daily. Free guided walks are often offered for birders and botanical lovers; see their website for details. Late winter is a wonderful time to visit to enjoy the long-established camellias.
From Interstate 4 in Orlando, take the Princeton Street exit east towards the Orlando Science Center. Turn left on N Orange Avenue and follow it past Florida Hospital for 1.6 miles, crossing US 17/92 in Winter Park. Turn right onto S Denning Drive. Continue 0.4 mile; the park gate will be on the left.
The trail system starts near the Mead Garden amphitheater at a kiosk which shows the original loop through the gardens, which included an extensive boardwalk. My first visit here was more than a decade ago and I led a group on a walk of more than a mile through the gardens. Today, very little of the original boardwalk is usable; most of your walk will be along a waterway with burbling micro-rapids formed by tree roots up and through the main portion of the old gardens to the south of the parking area.
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