8777 State Road 535, Orlando 32836
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: About five miles north of I-4 Exit 68
Just a stone’s throw from Walt Disney World and SeaWorld, amid the gated communities of Orlando’s burgeoning southwest district, lies this 440-acre patch of Florida wilderness. The spiffy new Vera Carter Environmental Center building, with its state-of-the-art interpretive displays, is the kickoff point for four miles of beautifully maintained trails and boardwalks that meander through bay swamps, marshes, cypress swamps, pine flatlands, and Florida scrub. The park borders the Tibet-Butler chain of lakes from which it takes its name, but you can’t get down to the water. You can get close, though, on a lovely pavilion at the end of Osprey Overlook Trail. This is a great spot for bird watching and an excellent place to escape the bustle of tourist Orlando. The Preserve is home to bobcats and foxes, although it is unlikely you’ll spot any of these elusive creatures. Special programs and guided nature hikes are offered from time to time. Call for details.
Nearby: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove.
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