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Florida is the flattest U.S. state. It’s also home to a whopping 30,000 lakes of every size. Stocked with all types of fish, here are the best lakes in Florida that won’t disappoint you!
The sunshine state boasts the longest coastline in the United States. Its borders are the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Straits of Florida. White-sugary sand beaches, theme parks, and championship golf courses attract visitors. Yet people also know Florida for having some of the best lakes in the United States.
Spanning over 66,000 square miles of land, Florida is the 22nd-largest U.S. state. Yet, water covers about 19% of the land. The peninsula comprises karst limestone sitting above bedrock. It features many underwater caves, sinkholes, and springs. Still, many lakes and reservoirs fall into the rivers and surrounding water.
When you think of Florida, you likely think of a few breathtaking sights. After all, it has white sand beaches and the stunning Emerald Coast. Also available are tranquil, cooling springs. But there’s something more interesting that we often don’t think about. the best lakes in Florida. Underestimating lakes in Florida is a mistake. Florida lakes offer an unforgettable vacation experience and many outdoor activities. Also, these pursuits include swimming, relaxing, fishing, boating, and other watersports. Hence, whatever you want to do on or around the lake, Florida lakes will let you in for a treat.
More than the best Florida lakes for swimming, they are also home to the state’s diverse wildlife. You can find most of the native wildlife in these bodies of water. These lakes also offer visitors unique experiences. Visiting them allows exploring Florida’s beautiful group of fish, birds, and mammals.
In this post, we will bucket the best lakes in Florida and the fauna and flora you can find in and around these lakes. So, let’s get started!
Best Lakes in Florida
1. Lake Kissimmee
Osceola County, Polk County
Kissimmee Lake is one of the most popular lakes due to its proximity to Orlando and Disney World. Lying about 70 miles south of Orlando, it is also the 4th largest lake in Florida. Likewise, stretching over two counties, Lake Kissimmee covers approximately 34,950 acres. While a more significant part of the lake is in Osceola County, a section of it and the western shore is in Polk County.
Sitting in Lake Kissimmee State Park is also excellent for wildlife enthusiasts. There, folks can say hello to colorful birds and other wildlife creatures. The nature reserve is home to bald eagles, ospreys, turkeys, and other birds. Still, the place has alligators, white-tailed deer, bobcats, and other animals.
Furthermore, the main draw of Kissimmee Lake is its fascinating wildlife. Visitors also made it a popular wedding venue. Also, the lake’s surroundings boast hiking and equestrian trails. The place has picnic tables, playgrounds, and other amenities too. Thus, with these features, Lake Kissimmee is among the best lakes in Florida. It entices visitors to experience plenty of enchanting activities.
- Activities In and Around Lake Kissimmee
- Activities In and Around Lake Okeechobee
- Activities In and Around Lake Tohopekaliga
- Activities In and Around the Blue Cypress Lake
- Activities In and Around Monroe Lake
- Activities In and Around Lake George
- Activities In and Around Lake Seminole
- Activities In and Around Lake Crescent
- Activities in and Around Lake Crescent
- Extra Reading:
Activities In and Around Lake Kissimmee
The state park is rich with wildlife, offering visitors an ultimate outdoor experience. Located 15 miles east of Lake Wales, Lake Kissimmee State Park covers around 5,930 acres. It includes a lush forest, prairie, floodplain, hammock, and Flatwoods.
You will love visiting Cow Hunters Camp, Lake Kissimmee State Park. It is open to the general public during the fall and spring. The camp excites visitors with live history. It demonstrates and lets them experience early Florida cow hunters.
Besides being one of the best Florida lakes for swimming, Lake Kissimmee offers plenty of fun. Guests there can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and paddling through its waters. Boat rentals at Lake Kissimmee State Park enable folks to paddle along the shoreline. The activity allows for the exploration of nearby lakes. Still, visitors can also try the 11-mile Buster Loop Trail near Lake Kissimmee. It’s a challenging route to discover a canal, two creeks, and three lakes.
The lake also has more than rich wildlife, stunning scenery, and outdoor activities. It’s a place for one of the best bass fishing experiences. Moreover, the site is where you can enjoy using a boat ramp. The slipway can take you to the waters and catch almost all fish species. You may capture bluegill, largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, and chain pickerel there.
2. Lake Okeechobee
Folks know it as the “Big O” and “Florida’s Inland Sea.” Lake Okeechobee offers a dream Florida vacation lakefront experience. Covering about 700 square miles of area, it is the largest freshwater lake in Florida. Lake Okeechobee stretches across five counties and boasts breathtaking sceneries throughout its stretch.
The word Okeechobee means big water, and this lake is massive. Its origins date back to the 16th century. Also, the reservoir is near Florida’s National Scenic Trail. People identify and appreciate the site for its stunning views. Likewise, it comes with excellent hiking and cycling opportunities. Still, accessible amenities like rental cottages and R.V. campgrounds are nearby. They allow visitors to enjoy a Florida vacation lakefront experience.
Despite the massiveness, the average depth of Lake Okeechobee is 9 feet. This feature makes it one of the best Florida lakes for swimming. Also, it is suitable for inexperienced swimmers. Moreso, it is also a popular boating and fishing spot. After all, it’s home to diverse fish and other aquatic creatures.
Activities In and Around Lake Okeechobee
Fishing in Okeechobee Lake is one of the popular activities. Because of that, folks call it the “black bass capital of the world.” The available fish on the site include largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and pickerel. Besides, three boat ramps for visitors are accessible. Guests can launch there to explore Okeechobee and other nearby lakes.
Okeechobee County thrives for its hiking and biking trails. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is near the lake and has around 100 miles to explore and enjoy. Taylor Creek Storm Water Treatment is also close and has marshy areas for adventures. Moreover, the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail within reach has stunning natural attractions.
Still, the Okeechobee town is one of 11 nearby Gateway Communities. Weary hikers can take advantage of restaurants, lodging, and grocery stores. Hence, travelers can relax and recover when needed. Furthermore, sections of the Florida Trail are open for families to explore and enjoy. The site is also near Okeechobee.
3. Lake Tohopekaliga
Lake Toho is one of the best lakes in Florida. People appreciate it for its birdwatching and fishing opportunities. It is a part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and is home to trophy bass and waterfowl. This beauty is the largest lake in Osceola County. It stretches over 22,700 acres and connects to the East Lake Tohopekaliga.
The northern shore of Lake Tohopekaliga lines the edges of Kissimmee. The eastern coast connects to Kissimmee Park. Also, it boasts a lakefront park with a fantastic Florida vacation lakefront experience. The site features a scenic walking path with benches. Belonging to of the best Florida vacation lakefront spots, it has a tiny lighthouse. Because of its peculiarity, folks from afar make time to visit it.
While Lake Toho is a beautiful place for enjoying the outdoors, dipping there is not ideal. It does not belong among the best Florida lakes for swimming due to the number of local gators. Locals swim here, and the alligator sightings are few. Yet the news about these carnivorous reptiles in the area surfaced.
Activities In and Around Lake Tohopekaliga
The site is suitable for various outdoor activities. Tourists here enjoy birdwatching, fishing, picnicking, boating, and kayaking. The west end of the lake also has picnic tables, playgrounds, and a marina for storing and launching boats. It offers one of the best kayaking on Florida lakes.
Moreover, Lake Toho also incorporates nearby hiking trails for guests to appreciate nature. Also, the narrow shoreline on the north end is ideal for birdwatching. The site promises plenty to witness if you love birding or treasure seeing wildlife. It’s where you can spot wood storks, snail kites, fulvous whistling ducks, and limpkins.
4. Blue Cypress Lake
Indian River County
Also called Lake Wilmington, the said lake is an incredible place. It’s part of the Treasure Coast Indian River County. Suitable for photographers, Blue Cypress Lake is like a film set. After all, it comes with stunning scenery, dropping cypress trees, and azure waters.
Over 6,500 acres, Blue Cypress is one of Florida’s biggest and best lakes. Many creeks feed it from the south, west, and north. It boasts cypress trees that splay their branches over the water. Their complicated roots also stretch along the pristine shoreline. Likewise, exploring this watery wonderland by canoe or boat may give you an adventure. After all, it allows for an immersive experience.
Moreover, located 8 kilometers west of Fellsmere, it encourages people to be in the open. Yet it isn’t for swimming. The presence of alligators makes the site risky.
Activities In and Around the Blue Cypress Lake
Besides breathtaking scenery, Blue Cypress Lake boasts a plethora of animals. Some wildlife creatures there are alligators, ospreys, and turtles. Moreover, the lake is also one of the premier locations for fishing. So, remember to bring a camera along. You can use it to capture stunning photos and share beautiful moments with your friends.
Most visitors also bring their binoculars. Folks use it to spy on colorful birds and other wildlife up close. We discourage swimming in Blue Cypress Lake due to certain risks. Yet other aquatic activities are enjoyable. Guests can still try canoeing, kayaking, motor boating, and paddling on the water. The site offers one of the best kayaking on Florida lakes as you float along the beautiful scenery.
5. Lake Monroe
Monroe/ Brown County, Indiana
Monroe Lake is one of the reservoirs located southeast of Bloomington. It is the largest lake in Indiana, covering 10,750 acres and spreading over Monroe and Brown counties. More than the massive water surface area, the lake boasts 13,202 acres of protected forest. Also, it comes with nine state recreational areas too. These places include Hardin Ridge, Fairfax, Moore’s Creek, Salt Creek, Pinegrove, and Paynetown.
It comes with beneficial attractions as one of the best Florida vacation lakefronts. After all, it has scenic areas and excellent fishing spots. Anglers who dream of catching a massive bass visit Lake Monroe all year round. Besides the big bass and panfish, it is also home to Redear sunfish, bluegills, and black crappies.
Activities In and Around Monroe Lake
Lake Monroe has something for everyone, with many recreation areas. It is perfect for water crafting and where visitors can launch their boats. After all, the site boasts nine accessible launch ramps. You can also bring your boat to its sandy shores. Likewise, the lake offers facilities for boat rentals. They provide speed boats, pontoons, fishing boats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, and more. With its pristine setting and vivid waters, the lake offers one of the best kayaking on Florida lakes.
Moreover, the three shores there allow sunbathing and seaside activities. Still, the tourist destination leaves so much to discover. After all, families have their vacation there to celebrate special occasions. Visitors can go there to commemorate Memorial Day and Labor Day. Others visit the Fairfax State Recreation Area to hang out. Some folks reach the Hardin Ridge Recreation Area and see more of old Florida there. The sites mentioned greet travelers with lush greenery and local wildlife. Hence, the lake is a perfect family and getaway spot that may also appeal to nature lovers.
6. Lake George
Volusia/ Putnam County
Covering more than 46,000 acres, Lake George is the 2nd-largest freshwater lake in Florida. It is also one of the best Florida lakes for swimming. Also, it has an average depth of eight feet and is home to fish species like bass and crappie. So various guests appreciate, recommend, and frequent the place.
The center of Lake George features a cluster of circular pilings. Also, it was once a target for bombing ranges. Moreover, the spot also has remains of a sunken ship, which makes it ideal for reeling in crappie. The western shore of Lake George is a part of the Ocala National Forest.
Activities In and Around Lake George
Different sections around the lake make room for outdoor activities. Those who go there ride their bicycles and view the local wildlife. Some tourists go hiking, fishing, hunting, and even horseback riding. Moreover, the site allows hiking on the scenic Lake George Trail too. Taking the route grants a stunning view of the land.
Travelers can also access Lake George State Park to see nature, try horse trails, and do more. Moreover, mini golf and waterfront dining are available at the Lake George village. The location features a beach club to sit back and relax. It’s also where you can try several delights. After all, the classic burger, kitschy shops, and well-maintained parks are available. Hence, many appreciate the body of water and everything surrounding it.
7. Lake Seminole
Pinellas County (Georgia-Florida Border)
This picturesque lake in Florida is in the north and borders Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. It’s over 37,400 acres, and people formed it by damming the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers. A need for a hydroelectric power source was why folks built it. Today, it remains a supplier of energy. Yet Lake Seminole has become a recreational spot too.
Moreover, as a tourist destination, it is one of Florida’s most popular and best lakes. Visitors from all three surrounding states flock here. Their reason for visiting is often to go fishing. The lake is home to various types of bass, bluegill, and crappie. Although the lake has gators, it is still one of the best lakes for swimming.
Activities In and Around Lake Seminole
More than something for water power, Lake Seminole also offers leisure opportunities. The lake is a centerpiece of the Three Rivers State Park with beautiful surroundings. You can visit the state park, which will introduce you to various plants and creatures. Campsites with fire pits and hiking areas are accessible there. Thus, it’s suitable for all types of explorers.
Visitors can also get busy angling, attempting to capture various native fish. Besides fishing, paddling on Lake Seminole is also fun. The site allows anglers to fish without holding back. Still, the available boat ramps permit kayak or canoe launching. Some paddlers may float along the shoreline too. Hence, it’s open to a diverse set of activities.
8. Crescent Lake
Putnam/ Flagler Counties
Its name was Dunn’s Lake, but people continue to appreciate its deep and sparkling waters. Covering about 15,900 acres, it’s one of the best lakes in Florida. Also, it’s in North Central Florida. It’s fascinating that it stretches across Flagler and Putnam counties too. As a tributary lake of St. Johns River, it runs about 21 miles, with the northern end connecting with St. John River. Thus, its features alone are impressive enough to visit.
Crescent Lake is pristine with its profuse coastal vegetation and clean water. Also, it’s wealthy in wildlife and accommodating to anglers. Thus, it explains why it hosts thousands of travelers. Many tourists want to experience its tranquility. Still, a public boat ramp near the western shore allows visitors to access the lake. Yet, more vehicle and boat trailer parking is needed. Hence, locals there and other travelers encourage arriving early at the site.
Furthermore, the south end features a conservation area, serving as a buffer for the lake. Crescent Lake also features Florida vacation lakefront spots on the western end. It includes campgrounds, motels, private residences, and restaurants.
Activities In and Around Lake Crescent
Like other lakes on this list, Lake Crescent is also home to countless fish. Its profuse sea life makes it ideal for angling too. Also, the conservation area is over 3,500 acres. The place is suitable for outdoor activities. The site allows tourists to bike, hike, do primitive swimming, and ride a horse.
Nature lovers and photographers adore the lake. It has old cypress trees scattered on the shorelines. These plants are where various birds perch. People also see the lake giving room for the best kayaking on Florida waters. After all, travelers can bring their boats, kayaks, canoes, and bass boats along. With their equipment, they can float and witness breathtaking scenery.
9. Lake Dora
Mount Dora, Lake County
Lake Dora is among the most prestigious Harris Chain of Lakes. Its status is due to its historic lakefront town of Mount Dora, sitting on the eastern shore. Located 41 miles northwest of Orlando, Lake Dora is a freshwater lake and covers about 4,500 acres. The closest towns include Mount Dora to the east and Tavares on the northern shore.
The settlement of the historic town of Mount Dora was in the 1860s. Also, many of the town’s notable buildings are still standing. More than fishing, it’s also famous for Florida vacation lakefront gated communities. The Deer Island Country Club features a challenging golf course there. Squirrel Point Community has a natural forest setting on the southern shore too. Still, Lake Dora is ideal if you want a laid-back, tranquil vacation experience. Thus, many take their time to visit this attractive spot.
Activities in and Around Lake Crescent
Other than angling, folks can try different activities in Lake Dora. The nearby town of Mount Dora hosts an arts festival. This occasion attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly. Also, many festivals, fairs, events, and shows take place here. Moreover, you will also love to explore Lakeshore Drive. Cruising down this breathtaking and scenic route is an enchanting experience. The picturesque two-lane road along Lake Dora will let you see multi-million-dollar residences.
You can also enjoy water skiing, boat cruising, kayaking, windsurfing, and kayaking.
Preparing for Your Lake Adventure
Embarking on a memorable lake adventure in Florida? Get ready to dive into the wonders of these pristine bodies of water! Before setting out on your journey, a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring a fantastic experience.
What to Pack
- Pack your sense of adventure and enthusiasm for exploration.
- Don’t forget essentials like swimsuits, towels, and sunscreen to bask in the warm Florida sun.
- Bring your fishing gear if you’re an angling enthusiast, as these lakes are teeming with a variety of fish waiting to be caught.
- Consider packing outdoor essentials such as hiking shoes, insect repellent, and a hat for added comfort during your lake excursions.
Research and Planning
- Conduct thorough research to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations of the lakes you plan to visit. Some lakes may require permits or have restrictions on certain activities like boating or camping.
- Check the weather forecast to ensure you’re prepared for any changes in conditions. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan or alternate activities in case of inclement weather.
- Look for information on nearby amenities such as restroom facilities, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Having this knowledge in advance will help you plan your activities and make the most of your time at the lakes.
Capture the Memories
- Bring along your camera or smartphone to capture the breathtaking beauty of the lakes. The mesmerizing scenery, vibrant wildlife, and stunning sunsets will undoubtedly leave you in awe.
- Consider bringing additional accessories like a tripod or waterproof case to enhance your photography options.
- Don’t forget to charge your devices and bring extra memory cards or batteries to ensure you can document your lake adventures to the fullest.
So, gear up, plan ahead, and get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of Florida’s best lakes. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, these natural gems are waiting to be explored and cherished.
Experience the Best Lakes in Florida
That’s all about the best lakes in Florida. The state is home to thousands of stunning lakes of every size. These aquatic wonderlands attract thousands of visitors to interact with nature. Besides kayaking on Florida lakes, there are tons of off-water activities to enjoy. These include birdwatching, nature photography, and camping. Many lakes also feature Florida vacation lakefront communities. These places host annual events that attract massive crowds from across the state. Hence, you can have hours or days of awe visiting any of these lakes.
So, what’s your favorite lake in Florida? What makes it outstanding? Let us know in the comment below! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time.
What are the best times to visit these lakes?
These locations are often accessible on most days. Yet we recommend visiting them between March to April and September to October. Also, during these times, the weather could be warmer. After all, many plants experience dormancy and several animals migrate to warmer areas. So it’s ideal for travelers to visit and try the Florida waters when it’s hot.
Do you need money to access these bodies of water?
Some of these destinations are free. Some of those in state parks charge fees. Yet travelers often save up before going on a trip to cover fare and accommodation fees. Enjoying the lakes and everything around them may take more than a day. Hence, it’s necessary to have travel resources to reach and stay near these lakes.
Are there any lesser-known lakes in Florida that are worth visiting?
Absolutely! While Florida is renowned for its popular lakes, there are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. These lesser-known lakes offer a unique and less crowded experience. You can find tranquil oases tucked away amidst natural beauty, away from the bustling crowds. Exploring these hidden treasures allows you to enjoy the serenity and peacefulness that Florida’s lakes have to offer.
Can I bring my own watercraft to these lakes?
Absolutely! Many of Florida’s lakes are open to boating and water activities. Whether you have a kayak, canoe, or motorized boat, you can often bring your own watercraft to these lakes. It’s important to check the specific regulations and guidelines for each lake, as some may have restrictions on certain types of watercraft or require permits. By following the rules and respecting the environment, you can fully enjoy your boating experience on these beautiful lakes in Florida.
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