When most people think of a day on the water in Florida, they imagine a day on a sandy beach with the ocean in the background. But there are more ways to enjoy the water than just taking a trip to the beach. If you haven’t been to any of these lakes, you haven’t explored Florida. Find out which Florida lakes belong on your bucket list.
1. Lake Eola
If you think Orlando only has a few gay bars and good restaurants to offer you, think again. One of the best attractions in the area is Lake Eola. The lake has over 1,300 miles of shoreline and is located in downtown Orlando. Although it’s not the largest of the Florida lakes, lake Eola is striking. At night, the lake lights up and features an impressive fountain.
You can rent a paddle boat and make your way around the lake, or walk around the paved paths. While You’re there, check out the gift shop and pick up a memento.
2. Lake Tohopekaliga
This lake also goes by Lake Togo, and it’s renowned for its great fishing and spectacular bird watching. If you visit Osceola County, take the time to explore this lake. At approximately 56 square miles, this lake is one of the largest Florida lakes. Kids can play on the playgrounds, and picnic tables are around for you to enjoy a snack or lunch.
To explore the lake, rent a boat and launch from the marina. You also have an option to explore by land on the hiking trail. If you pack accordingly, you can easily spend a full day on the lake.
3. Lake Kissimmee
Measuring about 87 square miles, Lake Kissimmee is even larger than Lake Toho. Perhaps the biggest attraction at the lake is bird watching. In a matter of minutes, you might see six different species of birds. If you aren’t familiar with the local birds, be sure to pack a Florida bird identification book.
Of course, there are other types of wildlife around the lake. Be on the lookout for bobcats, deer, and alligators as you walk around the trails. Freshwater fishing is allowed and is often generous. If you’re interested in exploring by horse or by boat, you also have the option to do so.
4. Lake Talquin
While most of Florida is flat, Lake Talquin gives you more diverse topography. The area has ravines and rolling hills, and is located just west of Tallahassee. If you go fishing in the lake, you can expect to catch crappie, bass, and pickerel. As you look to the sky, don’t be surprised to find bald eagles and turkeys.
As a relatively large lake, Lake Talquin is an ideal place for sailing, canoeing, and kayaking in Florida. The scenery is unique and makes a trip well worth the drive.
5. Lake Harris
About 30 miles north of Orlando, there’s a lake with an odd shape and a lot to offer. Lake Harris is the largest lake in the region and home to sand hills and cypress trees. At the northeastern shore, the Leesburg International Airport sits.
The lake has campgrounds, boating, and fishing. When the weather is warm enough, people often water ski on the lake. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out some of the cute lakeside towns. Mount Dora deserves a visit, as does Tavares.
6. Lake Okeechobee
Most Floridians have heard of Lake Okeechobee, or Lake O. Out of all the freshwater lakes in Florida, this one is the largest at more than 700 square feet. It covers over five counties and takes quite some time to explore.
Fishing is one of the most popular activities on the lake, as there are plenty of largemouth bass and crappie waiting for you. Even if you don’t enjoy fishing, you can take a walk along one of the hiking trails or bring your bike and go for a long ride. Tourists from all over come to this popular lake in Florida. They have cottages available for rent as well as cap and RV sites.
7. Blue Cypress Lake
Despite being small, this lake is the largest in the Treasure Coast region. It’s also the start of the St. John’s River and the location of a famous fish camp. If you stop into the fish camp, you rent a boat or access a ramp to launch your own vessel. The shop also sells live bait and snacks for your day on the water.
This lake is located west of Fellsmere and near Palm Bay. As a bit of a hidden gem, Blue Cypress is somewhere to go to escape from it all. The trees popping up out of the water create an almost magical scene, which is one of the reasons this lake is worth visiting.
8. Lake Iamonia
The history of Lake Iamonia is the highlight of this lake. In the early Pleistocene era, Lake Iamonia was made from melting glaciers. Today, there are fossils buried under and around the lake. Among some of the bones found were camels, horses, and dogs. If you’re more interested in seeing living animals than fossils, you can walk around the lake and look for armadillo, coyote, and beavers.
To visit this historical lake, you need to head to North Florida. The lake is also the site of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. Before you go, make sure you pack your fishing pole and stop for some bait.
9. Crescent Lake
While many of the lakes on our list are developed, Crescent Lake is relatively untouched. It’s a long and narrow lake with cypress and palm trees surrounding the water. As far as fishing goes, the lake is home to plenty of black crappies and striped bass. Because the area is secluded, you can enjoy the tranquility as you watch osprey and eagles fly above you.
One of the best ways to enjoy this lake is to stay at a fishing camp. If you’re a fan of scuba diving, bring your gear and check out the wreck of the Alligator. In the early 1900s, the boat sunk and still remains there today.
10. Lake Seminole
A popular lake, Lake Seminole is located in Pinellas County. Before the 40’s, the body of water was an estuary. The upper part of the Long Bayou closed and transformed the waterway into a lake. The spot is ideal for jet skiing, water skiing, and hiking.
For recreational use, the lake has picnic shelters and a boat ramp. You can participate in a game of volleyball or take your kids on the playground. Either way, it’s a great place to enjoy the water.
Getting Out on the Florida Lakes
The next time you decide it’s time to get out of the house, plan a trip to one of the Florida lakes. Whether you enjoy fishing, boating, or sunbathing, a day on the water is one way to make great use of your time.