Though many people visit Orlando for the rush of the theme parks, there are also many relaxing nature experiences to have here! One of my favorites is visiting the Leu Gardens in Orlando where I can be surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees. This oasis is open year-round and offers visitors a chance to see unique plant life of all kinds.
We have explored the Leu Gardens in Orlando many times and still always manage to see something new. Whether you want to spend a whole day outdoors or take a quick stroll, this garden is one of the most beautiful places to do it. In this review, I will explain all the reasons you should take a visit to the Harry P. Leu Gardens!
Where are the Leu Gardens?
If you are looking for the Leu Gardens in Orlando, you will want to head towards downtown. This 50-acre garden is located right outside Winter Park and is easy to get to from I-4. It is about a half an hour’s drive from the theme parks and Orlando Airport.
The entrance is visible from the road and there is always plenty of free parking outside. After going through admissions, they will provide you with a map that has everything to know about traversing the area. It is only a few minutes from Park Ave and I recommend stopping at a Winter Park restaurant before or after for a bite!
When is the best time to visit the Leu Gardens in Orlando?
There is no bad time to visit the Leu Gardens in Orlando, as there is always something in bloom! It is almost entirely outside though, so October through April is the most comfortable time for walking around temperature-wise. Make sure to bring an umbrella if you go during the rainy summer season. Most of the gardens are a bit of a walk to the main house!
As for the time of day, the Leu Gardens hours are from 9-5. You do not need reservations and can buy admission online or in person. They do stop letting people in at 4 PM though. I like visiting in the afternoon when the lighting is gorgeous, especially in the winter. Occasionally, there are after-dark events, but the garden is best experienced in the sunshine.
Leu Gardens Highlights
The Leu Gardens in Orlando offers thirteen unique sections to explore. There is a main house with a gallery and some exhibits, but the gardens are the main appeal. Upon entering, you traverse the tropical stream garden which feels like a jungle in Hawaii!
From there, you can either go to the flower gardens or the woods. The woods are an amazing spot for forest bathing and reflection. There are all sorts of rare trees, many dating back to the historic period! I loved seeing the palms and bamboos along the lake.
As for flower gardens, the rose garden is the most beautiful spectacle. It is actually the largest rose garden in Florida! But don’t miss the Idea Garden or the Butterfly Garden. Those with a green thumb also need to see the herb garden and arid garden for inspiration! Click here to see the Leu Gardens map for a full view of all the different sections here.
Our Experience at the Leu Gardens in Orlando
Throughout the years, we have enjoyed the Leu Gardens in all sorts of ways. The main experience we go for is a two or three-hour walk around with lots of stops for pictures. Unfortunately, you cannot bring a picnic, so we tend to have a meal or snack before visiting.
Once here, we like to start with the Tropical Stream Garden and walk down to the overlook of the lake. From there, we head to the center of the garden where the Rose Garden is and also some great photo-ops. The Rose Garden is close to smaller gardens including the butterfly, vegetable, herb, color, and ideas garden. This is the perfect section to peruse next, and there are restrooms nearby if needed.
Next, we head to the Arid Garden which includes succulent plants, and then make our way around the perimeter. Here there are lots of trees, so you can get some shade during the later part of your stroll. We like to walk around the perimeter and end up at the Leu House Museum for a walk-through. I would take this path if you are a first-timer. However, at some point, you will end up meandering and seeing what areas strike your interest!
Events and More
The Leu Gardens in Orlando is a popular spot for all sorts of community events! The first Friday of every month is the Leu Gardens movie night and they host an outdoor movie in the garden. You are allowed to bring a picnic ad drinks to this and it only costs $7. The movies tend to be more geared toward adults, but sometimes they have family movie nights.
Another fun Leu Gardens event is scavenger hunts! Themed scavenger hunts are frequently held here, like this summer’s, Leaf It in the gardens! This is included with admission and leads guests on a hunt for special leaves that have fun facts on them.
During the holidays, the gardens are lit up with Dazzling Nights. This is when the Leu Gardens in Orlando are decorated with Christmas lights and have interactive shows and holiday music playing throughout the garden. Then in the spring, another event decorates the gardens with dinosaurs! This Dinosaur Invasion is a great way for everyone to learn about plants and dinosaurs and also to keep kids entertained in the garden.
Know Before You Go: The Leu Gardens in Orlando
If you want to experience nature in Orlando, the Harry P. Leu Gardens are my favorite place to do it! I think it is a wonderful place to appreciate the beauty of plants and learn about our earth. Locals can enjoy spending a morning or afternoon here and getting some fresh air. If you are from out of town, I think this is a great day trip away from the theme parks that you can top off with a walk around Winter Park or Downtown Orlando. Before visiting the Leu Gardens in Orlando, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The Leu Gardens hours are 9 AM to 5 PM daily, except for Christmas Day, the only day it is closed.
- Leu Gardens admission currently costs $15 for adults, $10 for children 4-17, and $10 for active military and veterans. Kids under 3 are free and admission is free for all on a select three days a year.
- Parking is free and plentiful at the Leu Gardens.
- The Leu Gardens does not allow dogs, bicycles, picnics, blankets, and alcohol. Certain events like movie nights do allow food and drinks.
- You can book private tours, field trips, and weddings at the Leu Gardens, as well as other special events.
- There are free tours of the Leu House Museum Tuesday through Sunday offered every 30 minutes on the hour and the half-hour.
- There is no café here, so I recommend getting a meal in Winter Park before or after. They do allow you to bring “small bag lunches”, but they must be eaten on the Welcome Center patio.
- If you would like to help the Leu Gardens and be a volunteer, you can email email@example.com for inquiring about volunteer work.
Have you been to the Leu Gardens in Orlando before? Let me know what you thought if you have! For more activity ideas for Orlando, check out my Things to Do Besides Theme Parks Guide as well as my Central Florida Date Ideas!