As one pulls onto the property, there's a spacious parking lot, and it's FREE to park -- lots of shaded spaces, and there was lots of space in between vehicles. Once parked, visitors will then proceed toward the Garden House ('Welcome Center'), inside of which they will purchase their admission tickets, and pick up their map of the grounds. There's a quaint little gift shop just past the Admissions person. There's a lot of really cute souvenirs, but I'd recommend you saving this until after your self-guided garden tour or else you'll be toting those items around with you for at least a couple of hours (it would also be very easy to misplace your purchase somewhere in the gardens). There are a few rooms inside of the Garden House which can be rented out in 4-hour increments, easily capable of hosting private events and reception-type activities. Adorning the walls of the Garden House are different framed pieces of art which are parts of the Rotating and Permanent Exhibits. Enjoy the A/C and visit the restroom before you step outside, it'll be a bit before you come across the next rest area.
The outdoor garden area is a series of walkable pathways. For us, when the path took its first split, we turned to the right, and found ourselves walking toward this massive lake (Lake Rowena). There's a pretty deck observation area where we stopped for photos. Across the lake was the enormous AdventHealth Orlando (hospital) complex, which helped remind us how isolated we were from the normal commotion of downtown Orlando. Just a few feet in front of us beneath the water's surface, we saw about 5 large turtles just hanging out, looking up at the other tourists. We walked the wooden deck path and it was then that we realized just how large this garden experience was actually going to be. The map you obtained from the Welcome Center will be your best friend at this point, as it would have been very easy to get lost, but remaining focused, you would find several different garden areas each featuring specific varieties of Camellias, Cycads, Palm Trees, and some of the tallest bamboo shoots we've ever seen. There's a floral clock (but on this day, the clock wasn't very colorful), and a special area called the 'Landing' whose beautiful pillars would make for some wonderful wedding backgrounds. Just next to the Rose Garden was an amazing Butterfly Garden. I'd never actually seen a non-enclosed butterfly garden before, and was amazed that so many beautiful butterflies would be so attracted to the nectar-bearing landscapes that they would just fly in to visit like that. We saw a few dozen butterflies just fluttering around. Beside this space is where we were able to locate a small bathroom area, which was super cold with A/C, and provided some much needed relief from the heat.
It had taken us about 2 hours to get to this point, and we were ready to start heading back toward the Welcome Center. On our way back we passed the Herb Garden, the Idea Garden, Gazebo, and Pavilion spaces before finally making it back into the Garden House (we tried stopping at the once-inhabited Leu House Museum toward the middle of the property, but it didn't seem to be open on this day, unfortunately).
We took many photos with my selfie stick / cell phone tripod, which Leu Gardens seemed to allow. I believe if we had brought my SLR camera and my more durable tripod, that someone might have stopped us from utilizing what would have been considered 'professional camera equipment'. However, despite all the photos my family had taken this day, even those images will not fully help one to appreciate the hidden beauty of this wonderful place.
My daughters went Instagram-crazy in the Rose Garden, where they found numerous camera angles and backgrounds to fill up their social media pages. My wife enjoyed the beauty of this space as well. However, my favorite part of Leu Gardens was the Butterfly Garden area: it was just so serene and peaceful there, and I still can't get over seeing so many butterflies flying freely in that open space.
There were lots of benches and seating areas throughout the property, so even I with a previous heart condition was able to comfortably rest from one garden area visit to the next. I did get pretty hot out there once or twice, but let me remind you to be smarter with your choice of clothing than I, and wear something loose and breathable so you can dissipate the heat. Also, remember to wear lots of sunblock, and bring your sunglasses.
We had heard from some friends that there were certain Mondays in the year when admission to Leu Gardens is actually free, as are Mom's and Dad's admissions on Mother's Day / Father's Day, respectively. So, definitely be on the lookout for those great deals and announcements!
Our family really enjoys visiting botanical gardens -- it's good family time, visitors are usually very mindful and respectful about maintaining social distance, and it's a nice change of pace in which life can slow down for just a bit and be appreciated. Leu Gardens is a great, inexpensive, gem of an option just minutes away from downtown Orlando. The grounds were spacious, provided for tons of photo ops, and this is a very safe space to take in nature's beauty while remaining socially distant from other families surrounded by the tranquility of an audibly-silent and peacefully serene space. Please check them out and let them know you read about them through us! If we're lucky, hopefully we'll see you there!