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Thoughts on finding fun and inexpensive things to do in the Oviedo and Winter Springs area from UCF Student Wesley Madonna.
#1: Cross Seminole Trail
As a college student living on an incredibly tight budget, I have found Cross Seminole Trail to be a great way to break the monotony of college life without cutting into my already-limited resources. This trail, a favorite amongst local runners and bikers, offers a good mix of natural forest scenery and modern amenities. It spans about twenty-three miles, wandering through both Oviedo and Winter Springs, and is home to a beautiful selection of Floridian wildlife. For those who prefer dirt strips to asphalt, there are a number of smaller trails which break off from the main path. Personally, I would recommend beginning at the Black Hammock Trailhead; a nice, shaded stretch of road that has both restrooms and water fountains.
#2: Lukas Nursery
The Orlando Business Journal named Lukas Nursery one of the twenty-five largest attractions in Central Florida, an accolade it has clearly earned. On the surface, it’s a nursery just like any other, growing and selling a wide variety of plants and patio supplies. What makes Lukas Nursery different, however, is that it is also home to a four thousand square foot butterfly and bird conservatory. Containing a myriad of exotic finches, quails, and the largest variety of native butterflies in Florida, Lukas Nursery makes a fascinating day trip. Open all week long from 9am to 4pm, admission is only $6 per person, and children three years of age or younger are completely free.
#3: Robinson Observatory
Several times a year, a group of undergraduate students at the University of Central Florida put on an event at the Robinson Observatory called “Knights Under the Stars”. Here, anybody with an interest in the celestial can come and learn from current UCF students about various heavenly bodies. I myself have been to one of these events, and I can honestly say it was one of the neatest experiences I have had as a UCF student. Essentially, the students in charge set up a number of top-of-the-line telescopes and focus them on different astronomical phenomena, from planets within our solar system to galaxies and quasars millions of light years away. These students stand by the telescopes, ready to answer any questions you may have. All in all, this event is a great way to appreciate, and learn about, the breathtaking beauty of the universe.
#4: The University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is a great place to walk around, spend time with friends, or simply lie down with a good book. As far as group activities, the CFE Arena, located in the Northern portion of the University, is home to several restaurants and stores, as well as the arena itself, which is almost always putting on an event. In the winter, as part of Light Up UCF, there is also a Ferris Wheel, ice skating, movies, and many other snow-themed activities, most of which are either free or less than $10. For those looking for solitude, UCF’s reflecting pool, located near the center of campus, is a great place to sit down, stretch out, and relax.
#5: Lazy Moon
Every city claims to be home to the best pizza place, but Orlando really does have a serious claim to that title in the form of Lazy Moon. Lazy Moon is a local favorite, offering affordably-priced, delicious pizza. Lots of places have good pizza, however, so how does Lazy Moon stand out? The customer service is superb, the restaurant itself has a pleasing aesthetic, but the most unique aspect of Lazy Moon is the ridiculous size of their slices of pizza. When I first saw that they charged four dollars for a single slice, I was a vaguely outraged before seeing that a slice of lazy moon pizza is easily equivalent to three or four regular slices. At the end of the day, good pizza is good pizza, and Lazy Moon has some of the best around.  
#6: Pinball Lounge
Ever been to a bar and thought, “Hmm, needs more pinball machines.”? Then the Pinball Lounge, located in the Oviedo Bowling Center, is the place for you. The Pinball Lounge boasts a collection of twenty-four vintage, eighties-era pinball machines, all in flawless condition. In addition, the Pinball Lounge has a surprisingly diverse menu, from salads and subs to pizzas and burgers. It is open every day from noon to 11pm, and from noon to 12pm from Thursday to Saturday. And don’t miss “Flip Out Fridays”, where you can get unlimited access to the Pinball machines from 8pm to close for just $10!
#7: Trotwood Park
If you’ve spent any amount of time in Florida, you know just how debilitating the summer heat can be. I remember as a kid growing up in Central Florida, a large portion of my summers was spent in my pool, trying desperately to stay cool despite the sweltering heat. If this isn’t an option for you, however, Trotwood Park might just be your saving grace. Although Trotwood Park has all of the typical accoutrements expected of a park, like basketball courts and soccer fields, what sets this park a notch above the others is its splash pad, a blessing for those without a pool. All along its perimeter are benches, where parents can kick back with a good book while their kids cool off and have a good time.
#8: Little Big Econ State Forest
The Little Big Econ State Forest, bordered by two of the largest rivers in Florida, is a testament to the natural beauty of Florida. With the St. John’s River to the east and the Econlockhatchee River to the south, Little Big Econ is home to some of the best canoeing in Florida. Visitors to Little Big Econ can also hike, bicycle, view a wide sample of Floridian wildlife, and picnic. Stop by the Visitor Center for a chance to learn about the wildlife that call this forest home, as well as for information concerning fishing and hunting opportunities.
#9: Black Hammock Adventures
While much of Florida’s once-lush scenery has been cleared away to make room for amusement parks, hotels, suburbs, and restaurants, there are still places that aim to give visitors a taste of what Florida was once like, and no one does this better than Black Hammock Adventures. Black Hammock’s main attraction are their airboat rides through Lake Jesup, home to the largest alligator population in Florida. Piloted by experienced captains who are ready and willing to answer all of your questions, you’re sure to get a glimpse of Florida that you won’t soon forget. After taking this exhilarating trip, visitors can kick back at the on-site restaurant and bar, now able to fully appreciate the change that time has brought to Florida.
#10: Oviedo On The Park
Every city has its hidden gems, those little dollops of life and color that give locals a sense of pride. Such a place is Oviedo On The Park. Centered on a beautiful lake, Oviedo On The Park offers a playground, dog park, splash pad, amphitheater, and swan paddle boat rentals. Here, parents can feel safe allowing their kids to roam free, while they take a refreshing stroll. Hidden behind a few large apartment complexes, Oviedo On The Park is a fair bit from the road, cutting down on both the sound and danger cars can pose to pedestrians and park-goers. All in all, Oviedo On The Park gives new meaning to the word “quaint,” and anybody in the area would be well-advised to stop by, if just for a quiet afternoon.

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