A short drive from busy Orlando and surrounded by idyllic nature trails, Oviedo embraces its rural scenery. Settled by homesteaders along the shores of Lake Jesup in the 19th century, modern Oviedo is a city for everyone.
Whether you’re talking about its ample conservation land and waterfront just minutes from the historic downtown, renowned airboat rides with gator spotting, or great food and craft beer, Oviedo delights hikers, families and foodies alike. As if it couldn’t get any more charming, chickens still roam here freely through downtown!
Oviedo’s unique history and nature is celebrated together at Luka’s Nursery and Butterfly Encounter, a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated agri-business started last century by an immigrant farming couple from the Czech Republic. Named as one of the 25 largest tourist attractions in Central Florida, the year-round butterfly and bird conservatory invites a memorable experience to mingle among “flying flowers,” chirping exotic finches, and Chinese button quail. Here you can even feed butterflies from your fingertips!
Hikes await at every corner. By the end of your visit, Oviedo will turn you into a naturalist. The Florida Trail, one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States, crosses the city downtown. Families can easily explore the Bear Creek Nature Trail, an almost mile-long loop that follows a flowing creek. For a longer adventure, try the four-mile trail at the Black Hammock Wilderness Area.
Some of the best hiking in the area can be had at The Econ River Wilderness Area, just 1.5 miles from the nearby University of Central Florida. The 240-acre property located on the west side of the Econlockhatchee River offers about 3 miles of trails through various habitats of pine flatwoods, sandhill, and river swamp. Be ready to keep an eye out for the resident wildlife, which includes the great horned owl, white-tailed deer, bobcat, northern bobwhite, raccoon, and golden mouse. Benches are provided at a bend in the river so you can rest and enjoy the quiet serenity of this little piece of natural Florida.
One of Oviedo’s biggest attractions can hold its own against any of Orlando’s theme park rides: The Black Hammock and its renowned airboats. Go on and take the adventure of a lifetime! Strap yourself into your smooth vessel and let your captain take you through narrow green canopies, over fields of seagrass, around mangrove islets and out into open water. You’re almost guaranteed to see a gator. Why? Because Lake Jesup has one of the largest gator populations of any lake in the U.S., and the captains know where to take you to get the best views!
Food is big in Oviedo. If you’re game for fried gator tail, the Black Hammock Restaurant serves just about any of your favorite Florida delicacies, including Catfish Nuggets and Frog Legs, as well as pulled pork sandwiches and juicy, fresh burgers. For bold Cajun, head to Fire on the Bayou. Since the 1950’s The Townhouse Restaurant has been serving up hearty breakfasts, making it tough to choose: pork chops and eggs, country fried steak & eggs, 5 versions of Eggs Benedict, even catfish & eggs! Newly opened Oviedo Brewing Co. serves up great pub food and craft beer. You can enjoy your smooth pale ale there or grab it as a 64-ounce growler for later. And once a year, you can taste the best of the city’s flavors at Taste of Oviedo.
Oviedo is perfectly located right next to UCF, so make it a Knights destination weekend. Grab a snack pre-game and walk back to celebrate your winning team into the night. Guaranteed you’ll have lots to talk about all over town.
Oviedo’s lodging is as unique as its attractions. Gator Mansion is luxurious, but still not as pricey as an Orlando hotel. Gator Cottage more budget conscious and Victorian King’s Manor Bed and Breakfast Inn are exquisitely charming. Why stay, eat or go anywhere else?