The sun is shining and it’s getting hot out. You know what that means — summer is here again!

With loosening pandemic restrictions, warmer weather, and an increasingly vaccinated population, many homeowners may be planning their summer activities as usual. However, they might be in for a shock when they discover the inflated cost of some of their favorite summer staples.

Routine summer activities such as pool parties, barbeques, and shooting fireworks could be hindered by a shortage of raw materials. Seasonal items like chlorine, certain cuts of beef, and fireworks are in short supply this year because manufacturers are struggling to import enough of the materials needed to make products to sell to consumers.

Even gas is running on fumes, so homeowners considering travel by car may need to consider alternative means of getting to their destination — or even just staying home.

If you’re looking for family-friendly, safe activities to explore on a budget this summer, look no further. We have gathered a list of fun, free and inexpensive activities in Central Florida for the whole family to enjoy this summer!

Windermere Farmers’ Market

If you love fresh-from-the-farm produce, locally grown plants, hand-crafted art and jewelry, eclectic street food, and beautiful outdoor scenery, visit Windermere Farmers’ Market.

Located on Main Street at Windermere Town Square, the market is open every Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There, you can find over 30 local vendors selling honey, fresh-baked bread and pasta, and much more.

Pay a visit to the Windermere Farmers’ Market this Friday and find out everything it has to offer!

Champions Splash Park

Looking to cool off from the heat? Escape to Champions Splash Park for some fun the whole family can enjoy!

The park is located at Waterfront Park at 100 Third Street. Beginning May 31, the splash park will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and weekends. The interactive splash park offers play structures and splash pads for little ones to play on, and facilities can be rented in advance for after-hours parties.

The fee for entry is $2.00 per person, or free with a residents’ pass.

Lake Apopka North Shore

Sometimes, you need to get away from all the noise and chaos of the city and get lost in nature. Lake Apopka is the perfect place to immerse yourself in natural beauty and forget about your daily worries.

With an abundance of wildlife, and 20,000 acres of natural wetlands, Lake Apopka North Shore is home to Florida’s fourth largest lake and is one of the state’s most renowned bird-watching areas. The two blazed trails designated for hiking facilitate exploration for those seeking a wilderness adventure.

The North Shore also features a boat launch for kayaks and canoes, and a road which is accessible to motor vehicles only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays.

Winter Garden Heritage Foundation

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation is a strong voice for the preservation of the history and culture of the community of Winter Garden. Their job is to document West Orange County’s past, and to help keep its historical integrity intact.

A visit to the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation is a treat for the whole family. You will learn about the area’s rich cultural history, its significant landmarks, and the people who built the area into what it looks like now.

Visiting the foundation is not only fun, but educational. Stop in at One North Main Street on a Thursday or Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and enjoy a little piece of local history.

Lake Louisa State Park

If you’re itching to get out of the house for a weekend, pack up the family and take them on a trip to Lake Louisa State Park.

A mere half hour from Orlando, the park is packed with outdoor activities. It’s home to three major lakes, making it a great place for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

A myriad of animal species living within the park makes for amazing sightseeing. The park is host to fox, squirrels, bobcats, tortoises, deer, gophers, and over a hundred species of bird.

Additionally, there are 11 distinct plant communities living within the park, adding to its complex and diverse natural ecosystem.

Take some time to relax and revel in the natural beauty of Lake Louisa State Park.

Crooked River Preserve

Spanning from the slopes of the Lake Wales Ridge to the edge of Lake Louisa, Crooked River Preserve is a significant landform that showcases many features of Florida’s natural landscape in only a short hike.

The 1.7 mile-long trail features a check-in point and restroom at the trailhead, which is managed by the Lake County Water Authority. Although bikes are permitted on the trail, the terrain is soft and not ideal for biking. However, it’s great for hiking, and a perfect spot to launch a canoe or a kayak.

Enjoy a peaceful walk through the forest, or a spirited hike to the lake, or even portage your way along Lake Wales Ridge — the choice is yours!

With summer just beginning, and a world of activities waiting to be explored, there shouldn’t be a dull moment this season — even with the cost of inflation hampering some classic summer staples. We hope you make the best of this summer and take the opportunity to enjoy every moment.

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