Everything You Need to Know About the Winter Park Boat Tour

One of Central Florida’s hidden gems has been tucked away in plain sight for years. We got the inside scoop on all the ins and outs of the Scenic Boat Tour in Winter Park so you can make the most out of this unique experience.

by Erika Jeffrey
July 29, 2022

If you’re looking for a way to shake up your typical outing in Orlando, you don’t have to travel far or spend a lot of money. People love strolling through the charming town of Winter Park on any given day, but there’s a way to see it from another angle — by boat!

The Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour has always been a family-owned operation since its humble beginnings in 1938. They’ve come a long way from the wooden boats they started out with. Now they have a fleet of six 18-passenger pontoons that allow tourists and locals alike a different vantage point of popular Winter Park.

We ventured down to the docks to experience the ride and got all the tips from the friendly staff. Here’s what to expect:

  • Where to find the Winter Park Boat Tour.
  • How to book a ride and how much does the tour cost
  • How long does it last and where do you cruise
  • What kind of nature you can expect to see
  • What to wear and what to bring
  • When is the best time to visit

This relaxing boat one-hour ride is such a fun way to catch a glimpse of three of the seven Winter Park chain of lakes. The narrated cruise makes for a fun date, friend’s outing, or simply a fun excuse to get out on the water to get to know the town a little better.

Where exactly is the Winter Park Boat Tour?

The dock where you pay and check in is conveniently located just steps from the bustling Park Avenue of Downtown Winter Park. East Morse Road leads right up to Lake Osceola where the boats await. 

There is 3-hour street parking available — however, if you show up later in the day, parking tends to fill up so you may have to find a spot anywhere in the Park Avenue area and walk over.

How much does the Winter Park Boat Tour cost?

There are fun boutique shops and eateries close to the docks where you can grab a bite before or after your tour. If you’re shopping in the upscale district before your ride, be sure to save $16 for your boat fare. Children 2-11 years old are $8, and kids under 2 are free. 

That said, there is no shade and you have to be seated throughout the entire one-hour ride. Also, kids under 5 must wear a life jacket the entire time so use your best judgment on whether your kid can handle those conditions.

They used to be cash-only, but now accept major credit cards and even Apple Pay.

Want to explore more of outdoor Orlando?

How do I book a ride on the Winter Park Boat Tour?

Tours leave the dock every hour on top of the hour starting at 10 am. The last ride is at 4 pm. They do not take reservations unless you have a group of 12 or more, in which case you’d call ahead to make arrangements at 407-644-4056. 

It is a first come, first serve basis. So, if you know you want to make a certain time slot, be sure to arrive nice and early to put your name down.

Tours are NOT rain or shine.

If there is lightning within 10 miles, the trip is canceled and you will be bumped to the next available boat, or will have to return another day. If you’re from Florida you understand that lightning is NO JOKE and they do this out of the safety of riders and their staff.

How long is the Winter Park boat tour and where does it go?

The hour-long boat ride is narrated by locals that really make the tour. They know who has lived where, the history of the area, and have some funny jokes up their sleeves. 

They cruise three of the seven Winter Park chain of lakes and squeeze through a couple IG worthy canals. It’s always a nail-biter when a kayaker or SUP boarder shares the canals, but the friendly guides always make sure to make room for their water-loving allies. 

What can you expect to see on the ride?

Florida is known for its swaying palms and sandy beaches, but there’s more to marvel at while cruising the shorelines of Winter Park. While you’ll see your fair share of palms and lakeshore beaches, you also get a hefty dose of towering cypress trees, grand oaks, lush ferns, and a variety of pretty sub-tropical flowers. 

It’s fun to imagine what it must be like to own one of the many opulent mansions and estates dotting the shores. Lusting over their expansive gardens and impressive architecture is a fan favorite on this tour.

Critter-wise you can expect to see anhingas, great blue herons, egrets, osprey, red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, ibis, other water-loving birds, and the occasional gator. Alligators are not big fans of the amount of action on the lake, so the chance of seeing one is slim.

What should you wear and bring with you?

There are quite a few bridges and low limbs to duck under throughout the tour, so the boats never put up a canopy. That means lots of sun. You should remember to:

  • Wear a long sleeve shirt or sunscreen
  • Put on sunscreen on your face and neck
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear breathable clothes and comfy shoes – sandals are fine
  • Dress warm in the cooler months

You are welcome to bring a cooler along as long as it’s small. Please note that they do not allow alcohol on board. Water, other drinks, and hats are sold at the ticket window.

When is the best time to take the Winter Park Boat Tour?

As you might have guessed, winter is the busiest time of year for the Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour. Especially the time right before Christmas. 

The cooler months are popular among the snowbirds and people wanting to enjoy the lower temps, so be sure to show up early to claim your spots.

The least busy day of the week is typically Monday — unless it’s a holiday.

The busiest slots tend to be any time after lunch, so the early bird gets the worm!

Additional Details You Should Know Before You Go

The fine folks at the Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour are always looking out for their guests and put safety first. Their mantra “watch your step” followed by “no standing” echoes throughout the day. All boats have life jackets and guides are well versed in how to operate their pontoons.

If you’re on the hunt for a different way to spend some time with your friends or family, this is the ticket. It’s an affordable way to explore the natural side of Winter Park and get to know her from a fresh perspective. And just remember, watch your head as you pass under those fern-dressed branches!

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Erika Jeffery is an experienced photographer, copywriter, and content writer with Very Local Orlando and is the founder of ejcopycreations. She infuses her work with mindful marketing and thrives on helping businesses reach their audience in an authentic way. She is a graduate of the UF College of Journalism and Communications with a degree in Advertising with a background in business, hospitality, sales, and marketing.

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