Florida has been ranked in the top 22nd state in the U.S. Out of its total 66,000 square miles of land, 19% is based on water bodies.
Though South Florida is known for its sunny weather and vibrant nightlife, one of the most outstanding features of South Florida is its numerous lakes. Florida is home to around 30,000 lakes.
These lakes have a unique image due to their crystal-clear water with visibility of around 6 feet. They usually have a darker appearance due to the underlying Cypress trees, which makes the water cooler and perfect for swimming.
Tourists can engage in fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and much more! We have summarized the 15 best lakes in South Florida for you to visit in your recent tour!
1) Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee is the biggest freshwater lake in South Florida, covering over 448,000 acres. It’s in the middle of the state, surrounded by five counties: Glades, Hendry, Martin, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach.
The name Okeechobee comes from the Hitchiti word that means big water. It was a major battle site during the Seminole Wars. Also, it played a huge role in making South Florida’s agriculture industry.
Here fishing is the most popular thing to do, and there are tons of fish like largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. You can also hit up the lake for boating, kayaking, or paddleboarding, and there are plenty of places to park your boat.
Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is a 110-mile path that goes all the way around the lake and is perfect for biking or hiking. You can also hit up the Kissimmee River or Everglades to explore more.
2) Lake George
Lake George is one big freshwater lake in Putnam County, Florida. It covers approximately 28,170 acres, making it the second-largest lake in all of Florida.
The lake has played a significant role in the local economy by making goods and supplies. And today, it’s still important, with all the activities happening around it.
There is no better place for fishing than Lake George. Lake has got largemouth bass, striped bass, and catfish. It can be a delightful experience to explore the vast open waters and the surrounding landscapes by pontoon watercraft, kayak, or canoe.
The nearby Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, located at a 15-minute drive from Lake George, is a place to visit! Also, the nearby city of Palatka has a historic downtown area with many restaurants, shops, and museums to check out.
3) Lake Kissimmee
It is a huge lake sprawling across 31,383 acres of Osceola County in sunny central Florida. The lake was a hotbed of activity for Native American tribes.
Lake Kissimmee offers many fishing opportunities, teeming with bass, crappie, and bluegill. You can even rent boats and hire fishing guides from one of the many fish camps and marinas dotting the lake’s shores.
You can go from boaters to kayakers to paddleboarders. Wildlife enthusiasts can feast their eyes on Bald Eagles, Osprey, Bobcats, White-tailed Deer, Alligators, and much more!
The Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park offers the perfect setting for stargazing and wildlife watching. Also, it is home to Bok Tower Gardens and Spook Hill.
4) Lake Tohopekaliga
Lake Tohopekalgia, also known as Lake Toho, is in Osceola County, Florida. This treasure covers an area of approximately 22,700 acres, making it one of the biggest lakes in the state.
Lake Tohopekaliga has been around for centuries. Even the Spanish explorers had their eyes on this beauty, using it as a crucial transportation route. Nowadays, Lake Tohopekaliga is a valuable asset to the region, providing endless opportunities.
You can rent a boat or join a guided tour to explore the lake’s vast waters. For those looking for a calmer experience, canoeing and paddleboarding are all great ways to explore the lake’s serene waters.
Kissimmee, located on the northern shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, offers a bounty of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. And the nearby Walt Disney World Resort, located north of the lake, is a world-renowned attraction filled with thrilling rides.
5) Lake Istokpoga
Lake Istokpoga is the fifth largest lake in Florida, sprawling over 28,000 acres in Highlands County. It is located south of Lake Placid and part of the Kissimmee chain of lakes.
In the 20th century, the lake was used as a water source for agriculture and to construct the South Florida Water Management District’s canal system.
Lake Istokpoga boasts abundant populations of bass, crappie, and bluegill. Fish camps and marinas galore offer boat rentals and guided fishing tours. You can also go boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
If you’re in the mood for some high-speed action, the nearby Sebring International Raceway hosts several racing events throughout the year. The Highlands Hammock State Park is also a great camping, hiking, and wildlife spot.
6) Lake Trafford
Lake Trafford, located in Collier County, Florida, covers a mind-boggling 1,500 acres. Cypress swamps and marshes surround this place.
Lake Trafford has existed since the early 20th century and was originally known as Immokalee Lake. It served as a major source of irrigation for the surrounding agricultural lands.
Lake Trafford is an angler’s paradise, with plenty of largemouth basses, bluegill, and crappie to be caught. You can also go bird watching, hiking, or kayaking in the cypress swamps and marshes.
Lake also features The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located in Naples. It is a nature preserve with a boardwalk that is 2.25 miles long. It’s like walking through a forest of ancient trees.
7) Lake Placid
Lake Placid is a massive freshwater lake in the land of alligators and oranges. The lake is located in Central Highlands County, with approximately 3,406 acres.
The lake has been a hotspot for fishing, boating, and swimming for over a century and has played a significant role in the local economy.
Lake is teeming with largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish. The lake also has boat ramps and marinas where you can rent a boat and go on a leisurely cruise or maybe even guided fishing.
The nearby Highlands Hammock State Park is also worth a visit. It has camping grounds, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Also, the Sebring International Raceway in nearby Sebring features the biggest motorsports events of the year.
8) Lake Eustis
This freshwater oasis of approximately 7,000 acres in Central Florida is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes. Many cypress trees surround the lake.
Lake Eustis has evolved over the years into a haven for fishing, boating, and water sports enthusiasts. The lake has played a significant role in the local economy, which cannot be denied.
Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy Lake Eustis with its largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill population. The surrounding areas offer endless opportunities for hiking, bird watching, and camping in state parks nearby.
The Alexander Springs Recreation Area is great for relaxing because of its crystal-clear waters and scenic trails. Lastly, the nearby city of Leesburg offers unique attractions.
9) Lake Tarpon
Located in North Pinellas County, Florida, the lake covers an area of approximately 2,500 acres. The lake is surrounded by residential areas and parks, making it a popular boating, fishing, and water sports destination.
This lake was originally used for transportation and shipping goods between nearby cities. Nowadays, it’s a popular destination for fishing, boating, and water sports, and it has played a significant role in the local economy.
You can catch all sorts of fish, from largemouth bass to bluegill and catfish. The lake also has several boat ramps and marinas offering boat rentals. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding in the lake’s calm waters.
You can head to Tarpon Springs to indulge in some delicious Greek cuisine. Also, Clearwater, located just south of Lake Tarpon, offers unique attractions such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Clearwater Jazz Festival.
10) Lake Talquin
Lake Talquin is a man-made lake in the Florida Panhandle. It’s surrounded by dense forests that provide ample outdoor recreation and nature tourism opportunities, making it the perfect destination for adventures.
The lake was created in the 1920s when a dam was built on the Ochlockonee River. Fun fact: the lake was named after the town of Talquin, which was flooded during the lake’s creation.
Fishing enthusiasts will be overjoyed with the abundance of largemouth bass, striped bass, and catfish. Visitors can rent boats or take guided fishing tours from several boat ramps and marinas around the lake.
The state capital of Florida, Tallahassee, is just a stone’s throw away and offers many cultural and historic attractions. The Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is located on the north shore of Lake Talquin and is home to some hiking trails and picnic areas.
11) Lake Weohyakapka
Lake Weohyakapka, or Lake Walk-in-Water, is in Polk County, Florida. It covers over 7,548 acres and is the largest lake in Polk County.
“Weohyakapka” comes from the Seminole language and means “walk-in-water.” The lake has been an important natural resource for centuries, providing food, water, and transportation.
Boating and water sports are popular on the lake, and turpentine boat ramps and fishing piers are available for public use. The lake is also home to several bird species, making it a popular spot for birdwatching.
Lake Weohyakapka is located near several popular attractions, including the Bok Tower Gardens, Legoland Florida Resort, and the historic town of Lake Wales.
12) Lake Harris
Lake Harris is a big body of freshwater in the middle of Florida, north of Lake Apopka. It covers a whopping 13,788 acres and is just one of the many connected lakes in the area known as the Harris Chain of Lakes.
Lake Harris was a major transportation hub during Florida’s early development, and today it remains a vital resource for the region’s economy and recreational activities, such as fishing, boating, and tourism.
Fishing is a favorite pastime here, with many fish species like largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. Its sandy beaches and parks are ideal for swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing.
You can also check out Venetian Gardens Park, situated on the lake’s eastern shore, where you can stroll through gorgeous gardens. The Ocala National Forest to the north of Lake Harris is the perfect place to go hiking, fishing, or camping in a pristine natural environment.
13) Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe is a massive freshwater lake in the heart of Florida, around 21.8 miles from Orlando in the northeast direction. The area occupied by the lake is estimated to be about 10,750 acres, and it is connected to the St. Johns River.
There are numerous historical landmarks and monuments scattered throughout the area. Lake Monroe remains a significant recreational area, offering diverse activities for visitors.
Fishing is a popular pastime on the lake, and it is home to a wide variety of fish specie. The lake boasts several boat ramps and marinas that offer boat rentals and guided fishing tours, allowing visitors to fully explore the lake’s waters.
Other great options include Sanford, a city on the southern shores of Lake Monroe, off dining, shopping, and entertainment. Another popular tourist attraction is the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, located northeast of the lake.
14) Lake Louisa
Lake Louisa is Located in the St. Johns River in Volusia County, just a little away from Orlando. Covering a whopping 4,500 acres, Lake Louisa is part of the Lake Louisa State Park, a super popular recreational area in the region.
Back in the day, it played a crucial role in transportation and trade for the region, with steamboats chugging along its tranquil waters, carrying people and goods across the lake.
Fishing is a hugely popular pastime on the lake, with loads of largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish just waiting to be caught. There are plenty of boat ramps and kayak launch sites to explore the waters.
The nearby Citrus Tower in Clermont offers some of the most breathtaking views. And if you’re looking for good eats or retail therapy, the historic downtown areas of Clermont and nearby Groveland have you covered!
15) Lake Marian
Located in Kenansville, Florida, about 54 miles southeast of the bustling city of Orlando, With a surface area of about 5,739 acres, the lake is an awe-inspiring sight, surrounded by lush green wetlands and diverse wildlife habitats that add to its grandeur.
It served as a commerce hub during the early 1900s, with steamboats carrying goods and passengers across its tranquil waters.
The lake’s popularity is mainly due to the abundance of fish species, including largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. Besides fishing, visitors can indulge in boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding, among other water-based activities.
The Lake Marian Preserve, situated on the lake’s northern shore, offers hiking and biking trails. For those looking for a more immersive natural experience, the nearby Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is a must-visit.
South Florida’s lakes offer visitors a chance to break from the city life’s hustle and bustle. These lakes are a natural wonder that provides various recreational activities, wildlife habitats, and breathtaking landscapes that will leave an indelible mark on any visitor.
These finest lakes are just the beginning of what this stunning state offers. So, pack your bags, grab your fishing gear, and prepare for an adventure you’ll cherish forever.
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