Twelve miles northwest of Orlando is Apopka, one of the fastest growing cities in Orange County, Florida. The city, which comprised just one square mile when it was incorporated in 1882, now spans more than 30 miles and boasts a population of more than 45,000 residents in the greater Apopka area.
Apopka has long been known for growing plants. In the early 20th century, the city was dubbed "The Fern City" because it produced such a wealth of ferns. Since then, Apopka has become a leading grower of indoor plants and earned a new nickname: "The Indoor Foliage Capital of the World."
Apopka is an Indian word for "potato eating place."
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Most of the area's single-family homes and condominiums were built during a housing boom in the 1980s.
Residential neighborhoods in Apopka include:
- Oak Hill Reserve, a private community built on the rolling hills of Apopka.
- The Palms, an upscale residential neighborhood with over 150 single family homes ranging from 2,100 to over 3,000 square feet. The Palms hosts three fountains, two ponds and a waterfall, encouraging residents to take a stroll or picnic on the property.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The early Native American settlers of the region grew grain and vegetables here, and agriculture remains a major industry in the area. The city is home to dozens of tropical foliage plant nurseries that produce ferns, orchids, succulents, bonsais and just about every indoor tropical plant in-between.
- Clarcona Horse Park: An equestrian's paradise, this 40-acre public park hosts weekend competitions in dressage, racing and showing. As a secondary attraction, this recreational area is the home of the Mid-Florida Midget Race Track and Association, with midget racecars designed for children between the ages of 6-16.
- Errol Estate Country Club: Members and guests alike can enjoy the thwack of a golf ball against a green backdrop at this lush golf and country club. Visitors can sign up for lessons or practice their driving at the range. A junior academy with a breezy, fun atmosphere is available for boys and girls ages 5-13 years old who want to learn to play.
- Yogi Bear's Jellystone Camp: The Yogi and Boo Boo-themed campground includes cabins, tent sites and RV hook-ups. A lake provides a picturesque setting for camping, complete with a beach, waterslide, and Yogi's Putt Putt golf.
- Wekiwa Springs State Park: An hour outside of the hustle and bustle of Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers the calm serenity of nature. Visitors can hike, picnic or kayak on the Wekiwa River. Camping is available in both primitive and full-facility sites.
- Alonzo Williams Park: Each spring, this local park sponsors recreational flag football and cheerleading leagues.
- Northwest Recreation Complex: With about 182 acres of basketball courts, athletic fields, volleyball courts and playgrounds, this complex features recreation options aplenty. In addition to hosting the local little league, Northwest Recreation Complex offers kickball, softball and soccer leagues for even the most amateur adult athletes. There are male leagues, female leagues, co-ed leagues and senior leagues.
- Doctors' Dog Park: This park offers open play space as well as pet showers for Apopka's canine residents and their human companions. The park also hosts themed events, which dogs can attend in costume.
- Fran Carlton Center: This local recreation center offers Tai Chi and karate classes for adults and children, as well as dance and tumbling classes for children.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Apopka Historical Society and Museum of the Apopkans: This museum is dedicated to the rich history of Apopka, ranging from the days of the early Native American inhabitants to more recent times. Exhibits include artifacts, clothing, tools and historical documents.
- Deco Gallery of AAA Imports located on US 441 has purchased several of the miniature structure models from Splendid China and has them on display in the parking lot in front of the warehouse building.
- Apopka Fair: Each spring, neon lights and carnival music enliven the town at the Apopka Fair, where artisans create and sell their wares. Traditional food, rides, entertainment and a classic car show make for a well-rounded experience.
- Florida Balloon Festival: The largest balloon festival in Florida, dozens of sponsored and personal hot air balloons dot the air in colorful pigments, with sunrise and sunset balloon launches and landings. Because it is hosted over Halloween weekend, each balloon fest includes a child-safe area for trick-or-treating from balloon to balloon. Kids also enjoy the inflatable attractions, clowns and face painting.
- Apopka Art and Foliage Festival: Nearing its fifth decade, the annual Apopka Art and Foliage Festival raises funds for the Woman's Club. "Fern City" bursts at the seams with artisans and craftsman featuring plant-themed artwork, sculptures and of course plants as the pieces of honor. Nursery and area tours are also available.
- Spring Fling 5K Fun Run: Held each spring, this race begins at Kit Land Nelson Park and goes along the West Orange Trail and up Hatchet Hill. Winners receive a ham.
- Easter Eggstravaganza: Apopka's annual Easter egg hunt is held each year at the Northwest Recreation Complex, where children ranging from infants to fifth graders search for eggs and get their photos taken with the Easter Bunny