If you’re in Orlando and grow tired of visiting the many theme parks, with their attendant crowds and long lines, then consider a visit to a beautiful southern garden. In my research, the most recommended garden in Orlando was Harry P. Leu Garden, donated to the city by Mr. and Mrs. Leu in the 1960s.
Situated on 50 acres just north of downtown, the Leu Garden did not disappoint. It’s truly lovely, with a beautiful assortment of shade trees including gigantic ancient oaks draped in Spanish Moss (which have survived a number of hurricanes over the years). Orlando’s climate is conducive to a variety of temperate and tropical plants which the gardeners have arranged in a number of themed regions you can visit (a map you’re provided as you enter explains these). These include a rose garden, butterfly garden garden; there are large numbers of camellias (which weren’t in bloom when we visited).
Situated in the center of the garden is the Leu’s old family home. The home has been restored with early 20th century decor, and guided tours are given by docents every half hour. These tours are interesting and include a history of the different families that lived here, including the Leus. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.
You enter the Garden via a modern visitor center which contains a nice gift shop. No restaurant on site, but a variety of good restaurants are available in the surrounding neighborhood. The Garden’s hours are 9 – 5 most days (closed Christmas) and admission for adults is $10. Rates are lower for children and there are some free admission dates for locals. The Leu Gardens hosts special events, including weddings and other private functions if this sort of thing interests you.
I hope you enjoy this photo-tour of the Leu Gardens, more-or-less in sequence as I experienced it: