15 Best Things to Do in Lake Nona, FL

Lake Nona, FL
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

This little neighborhood in Orlando, Florida, might be one of the most progressive and technologically advanced communities in the United States.

At least its flagship hotel, the Lake Nona Wave Hotel, bears the latter honor.

The upscale hotel opened last December 2021, with 234 rooms available for guests.

During your stay, you’ll find a digital concierge, smart lighting and temperature control with voice commands, and smart glass windows inside each room.

These dynamic windows block out 99% of all UV light throughout the day.

Likewise, the community’s commitment to progress and development is clear in its medical education and research.

Lake Nona Medical City hosts several colleges of medicine and biomedical research facilities, such as the University of Central Florida’s various medical colleges.

Moreover, the same university’s College of Pharmacy holds the #5 rank among all the pharmacy schools in the country.

Lake Nona’s development is truly staggering.

It has ballooned from a population of a measly 1,000 in 2000 to more than 50,000 in 2015.

Do you want to know more about Lake Nona, FL?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town:

Innovate Dining at the Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen

Exterior of Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

The Lake Nona Town Center offers plenty of unique and innovative restaurants, and one of them is the Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.

As the “cornerstone” of the complex, this restaurant freely tinkers with the concept of dining space.

Guests enter a specialized environment designed to let them connect with other people, eat good food in pleasant company, and unwind over drinks.

Name sign of Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

Chroma’s kitchen is visible, facing the bar and lounge.

You can order from a diverse selection of craft beer, local beer, specialty cocktails, and wines.

You can stay on the outside patio or the lounge when you eat.

Likewise, you can enjoy your meal in the solarium, where you can marvel at Lake Nona’s crowning art installation, “The Beacon.”

The back entrance of Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen.
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Swing for the Fences at Lake Nona’s Drive Shack

Fences around Lake Nona’s Drive Shack.
Cari Rubin Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you’re a golfer or just want to swing and hit some balls, you should visit the first Drive Shack location in the United States, found in Lake Nona.

This sprawling 57,000-square-foot facility is three stories tall and comes with several amenities for your golf and entertainment needs.

You have a restaurant, bar, a lounge, meeting spaces, and the hitting bays.

This place is perfect for a friends’ night out or corporate gatherings.

You can even hold large events at their private space, which can accommodate up to 10,000 guests.

Check Out the Predators at Gatorland

A breeding marsh at gatorland.
Jamie Sanford from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The alligator might be Florida’s most famous reptile, and you can check them out in their fullest glory at Gatorland in Orlando.

Bring your kids to this 110-acre reptile wonderland and see thousands of crocodiles and alligators hanging out.

You can also visit the Florida panthers there if you want another flavor of predator.

An alligator on the water at gatorland.
Jamie Sanford from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the other hand, visit their petting zoo if you just want to chill with animals that won’t bite your arm off.

Gatorland also features a popular attraction called the White Gator Swamp, where you can observe the biggest white leucistic alligators in the world.

You can see four of these gators here, too.

These gators are massive, stretching from ten to 12 feet long, and weigh more than 800 lbs.

Alligator babies at gatorland.
Jamie Sanford from USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Travel in Style at the Lake Nona Wave Hotel

You should stay at the most technologically advanced hotel in the United States at least once.

After all, why wouldn’t you spend a night at “The Living Room of Lake Nona,” the Lake Nona Wave Hotel?

You can get there straight from the Orlando International Airport, too, part of the hotel’s unparalleled convenience.

Besides 216 guest rooms, the hotel also features two penthouse suites and 16 more one-bedroom suites.

Each of these rooms contains artwork from the greatest sculptors of the past century to local artists.

Likewise, you can seek out the first-ever Dr. Deepak Chopra’s Mind-Body Zone and Spa to clear your mind and refresh your spirit.

For dining, the hotel features unique and innovative restaurants that should give you artfully prepared delicious meals with Instagrammable presentations.

Shop ‘til You Drop at the Lake Nona Town Center

Aerial view of Lake Nona Town Center.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

If the Lake Nona Wave Hotel is the community’s living room, the Lake Nona Town Center is its primary hub.

Hundreds of residents and guests flock there to enjoy the shopping destinations and entertainment options.

It’s a place to eat, shop, and enjoy public art as well as major events.

Spanning 4 million square feet, the Lake Nona Town Center provides every store you will ever need.

Large name sign of Lake Nona at Lake Nona Town Center.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

It’s split into two parts, Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Phase 1 contains upscale restaurants and a 200-room Marriott.

Its parking garage even has art installations to match the complex’s general uptown vibe.

Meanwhile, Phase 2 expands the complex by 100 acres, featuring open-air grounds with more restaurants and shops.

Its centerpiece is the Lake Nona Wave Hotel.

Sunset view at Lake Nona Town Center.
Cari Rubin Photography / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy Dinner at Canvas Restaurant & Market

Cars parked outside Canvas Restaurant & Market.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

In the heart of Lake Nona lies the Canvas Restaurant & Market, which you can visit at the Laureate Park Village Center.

It’s a large restaurant featuring 278 seats, and it’s also popular with guests and locals for its location.

After all, it’s one of the only waterfront restaurants in all of Orlando; it offers an experience you can’t quite get anywhere else.

Similar looking bikes parked outside Canvas Restaurant & Market.
Cari Rubin Photography / Shutterstock.com

Moreover, the restaurant prepares tasty all-American cuisine emphasizing seafood dishes cooked with seasonal and regional ingredients.

Try to book a reservation in the late afternoon to have the marvelous sunset frame your dinner.

The restaurant allows bookings for intimate gatherings, private events or meetings, or rehearsal dinners.

You can also freely customize their menu to fit your needs.

Try Craft Beer at Park Pizza & Brewing Company

Try the Park Pizza & Brewing Company for some beer and an outgoing vibe if you want another place to hang out with friends in Lake Nona.

This place is going to be your second home, and you’ll come back again and again whenever you’re in town.

Mingle with other tourists or the locals over some delicious pizza and beer.

Park Pizza serves wood-fired pizza and handcrafted local beer.

You can be sure their beer is good because they have a Beer and Brewing Operations Director, Martin Eiler, a Bavarian with extensive brewing experience.

Spend the Day at Boxi Park

Name sign of Boxi Park.
Cari Rubin Photography / Shutterstock.com

This 30,000-square-foot park isn’t just a park, but it’s also a hub of hip restaurants and cool bars.

Besides restaurants, the park also hosts a few beach volleyball courts and a big stage.

It’s an outdoor entertainment complex you can bring your kids, family, and dogs to.

Aerial view of Boxi Park.
Joni Hanebutt / Shutterstock.com

Lake Nona is proud to call Boxi Park the first facility of its kind on the entire East Coast.

As you can guess by the name, Boxi Park comprises repurposed container vans put together to form one- and two-story venues.

The design lets you roam around the place freely until you hit on the spot you like.

During the day, you can bring your kids to the playground or let your dogs run around the enclosed dog park.

Beverages at Boxi Park.
sisonseason / Shutterstock.com

Hit with the Best of Them at the USTA National Campus

Entrance of USTA National Campus.
Matthew Kaiser 7 / Shutterstock.com

If you love tennis, make sure to drop by the USTA National Campus, the biggest tennis campus in the country.

This campus has a staggering 100 courts with a bleeding-edge training center to get the most out of players.

Likewise, the place offers effective, groundbreaking development programs.

Tennis field at USTA National Campus.
Matthew Kaiser 7 / Shutterstock.com

Hundreds of amateur players and pros visit the place to join these programs.

If you want to be the next great tennis sensation, practice your skills here, for iron sharpens iron.

The USTA National Campus is open to the public and accommodates players of all ages and skill levels.

Tennis balls at USTA National Campus.
Matthew Kaiser 7 / Shutterstock.com

Splash around at the Nona Adventure Park

The top waterpark and family entertainment center in Orlando, Florida, is in Lake Nona.

It’s the Nona Adventure Park, a park dotted with amenities and wild rides.

For example, you can bring your kids to the inflatable aqua park or let them run the obstacle course.

Likewise, the thrill-seeker in you will delight in the Nona Wake cable park.

You can also invite your family to try climbing the 60-foot climbing tower, ropes course, and rock walls.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Lose Yourself Shopping at The Florida Mall

Entrance of The Florida Mall.
Miosotis_Jade / Shutterstock.com

When you feel the itch to shop, you’ll never go wrong visiting the largest indoor shopping mall in Central Florida, the aptly named Florida Mall.

It comprises a massive 1.8 million square feet and  hosts over 250 upscale stores and restaurants.

If you’re looking to buy something special, you’ll surely find it in this mall.

Palm trees outside The Florida Mall.
Miosotis_Jade / Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason tourists and locals troop here.

You can find this mall just off State Road 528, between South Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road.

It also stands ten minutes away from the Orlando International Airport, so you can head straight there after landing.

Likewise, The Florida Mall is a few minutes’ drive away from SeaWorld, Disneyworld, and Universal Studios Orlando.

Bring Your Kids to the Crayola Experience Orlando

Return to your childhood at the Crayola Experience Orlando and share the wonder of crayons with your kids.

Your kids will love this 70,000-square-foot facility designed to foster their creativity and social skills.

The facility features 27 attractions, enjoyable enough to spend an afternoon.

How about letting your kids become the star in their own coloring book?

Bring more joy to your kids by naming and wrapping your own Crayola crayon.

Likewise, see how the magic is made by joining their live manufacturing show.

Steel Yourself at the Reptile World Serpentarium

Name sign of the Reptile World Serpentarium.
Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since 1972, the Reptile World Serpentarium has thrilled all manner of reptile fans with its imposing collection of over 80 species of snakes.

These snakes also hail from every country in the world, from the charming to the lethal.

For example, you’ll find the extremely deadly King Cobra in there, measuring over 13 feet, and secure in the top ten of the world’s deadliest snakes.

Likewise, you’ll also see a Black Mamba and four of Florida’s most venomous snakes on display.

Exterior of the Reptile World Serpentarium.
Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rare snakes also live in the collection, such as the East African Green Mamba and its West African cousin.

If you don’t like snakes, how about crocodiles?

Venture inside to find a Nile crocodile and a 14-foot male alligator named Pete.

Otherwise, check out the iguanas, turtles, and tortoises.

You’ll find the Reptile World Serpentarium at St. Cloud, Florida, just 19 minutes away from Lake Nona.

A snake on an empty aquarium at Reptile World Serpentarium.
Snake dude, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember History at the Monument of States

View of the monument of states.
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 pulled the United States into World War II, which was already raging across the rest of the globe.

The retired doctor Charles W. Bressler-Pettis decided to build the Monument of States to inspire his fellow citizens.

This monument is a stone structure, composing stones donated from around the world, which volunteers assembled into its current form.

Bottom of the monument of states.
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Likewise, the monument also contained a stone from every state.

One of the stones came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself.

An American eagle and the American flag sit on top of the monument.

Today, the Monument of States has become a unique tourist attraction, located at Kissimmee, Florida, twenty minutes away from Lake Nona.

Remember Fallen Heroes at the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial

Who says vacation can’t be a history lesson?

Visit Kissimmee, Florida, to learn a sobering tale from World War II.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese army also launched attacks on the United States based in the Philippines.

The Japanese assault succeeded, weakening the combined American and Filipino troops until the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942.

The Bataan-Corregidor Memorial in Kissimmee commemorates a horrible part of the war in the Pacific.

After taking Bataan and Corregidor, the Japanese pushed 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers on the Bataan Death March.

These defeated soldiers marched 65 miles from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell, walking non-stop and enduring abuse from the Japanese soldiers.

These soldiers gave them no food, no water, and no rest.

They even killed their prisoners for no reason.

Only 4,000 American soldiers lived to see the end of the war.

Sandra R. Storm sculpted the memorial and chose to honor the spirit of cooperation in the face of terrible odds.

The memorial shows a Filipino woman sharing a drink with a wounded American and Filipino soldier along the Death March.

You can find this memorial in downtown Kissimmee, inside Lakefront Park.

Final Thoughts

Lake Nona is another jewel in Orlando’s crown of tourist attractions.

If you’re not in the mood to visit the crowded Disneyworld, SeaWorld, or Universal Studios, come hang out at Lake Nona’s fun food and entertainment destinations.

What are you waiting for?

Visit Lake Nona today!

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