15 Best Things to Do in Lake City, FL

15 Best Things to Do in Lake City, FL

Located in Florida, this enchanting city is a nature lover’s paradise. It is an ideal vacation destination offering the perfect mix of nature, history, and culture. Lake City is home to numerous beautiful parks, mesmerising rivers, charming creeks, and scenic lakes that provide opportunities for a vast array of nature-based recreational activities, such as hiking, swimming, snorkelling, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, fishing, wildlife viewing, birding, picnicking, and so much more.

Explore fascinating history at the museums and historic battlefield sites, appreciate nature’s beauty, experience the incredible local culture at the vibrant festivals, gorge on delicious food, go on water adventures, and explore the wilderness in this heavenly city. This is the ideal place to book your next holiday and escape into nature. Here’s a list of the best things to do while vacationing in Lake City:

Hiking in Alligator Lake Park

This picturesque park is a very popular tourist attraction in Lake City. It features miles of verdant hiking trails, lush foliage, a mesmerising lake, wetlands, picnic areas, a playground, and so much more. It provides opportunities for a vast array of nature-based recreational activities. Enjoy an invigorating hike or run on the nature trails, explore the lake waters by canoeing and kayaking, listen to the sounds of nature, view the diverse wildlife, and relish a delicious picnic with your friends and family against the scenic backdrops. It is an ideal place to take a break from the mundane and monotonous daily routine and escape into nature.

Fishing in Lake DeSoto

Lake DeSoto
Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This site features a mesmerising lake and sprawling greenery. It is popular for hiking, biking, running, birding, picnicking, and fishing. The tranquil environment and the exquisite natural beauty makes this place perfect for a refreshing evening walk. Enjoy a good book under the shade of a tree or watch the beautiful birds and waterfowl. Bring along a delicious meal to enjoy with your friends and family. The lake is home to numerous fish and attracts myriads of anglers. Spend a relaxing day here and unwind. The view of the sunset from this lake is absolutely spectacular.

Watch the parade at Olustee Battle Festival

Food stalls at Olustee Battle Festival
Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This annual festival is one of the biggest events in Lake City. It includes an arts and crafts market featuring more than 200 vendors, mouth-watering food stalls, carnival rides, a vibrant parade, live musical performances, dances, pony rides, re-enactment of the Battle of Olustee, artillery firing, Civil War memorial service, pig races, bouncy houses, health runs, and so much more.  The 3-day festival takes place every year in the second week of February and attracts myriads of visitors.

The parade features horses, wagons, carriages, vintage cars, artillery, and more. Watch the parade, try out the various fun activities, have a thrilling experience on the rides, enjoy great music at the concerts, take part in the health runs, gorge on delicious desserts, explore beautiful artistic works at the art market, and watch the lively and fascinating re-enactment of the Civil War battle.

Camping in O’Leno State Park

O'Leno State Park
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled on the banks of the enchanting Santa Fe River, this 6000 acre scenic park was originally the site of an abandoned 19th century town. The park is a nature lover’s paradise. It encompasses swamps, towering trees, dense foliage, sand hills, nature trails, picnic areas, a museum, a beautiful suspension bridge, and so much more. It provides opportunities for a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, camping, canoeing, biking, wildlife viewing, swimming, and fishing.

Beat the heat by swimming in the Santa Fe River, explore the river waters by canoeing, hike on the verdant trails that meander through the scenic landscapes of the park, enjoy the sounds of nature, experience fishing, camp here at night, appreciate nature’s astounding beauty, and end your day with a lovely picnic. The site is home to diverse wildlife including deer, squirrels, turtles, racoons, alligators, and more. The park is located around 21 miles from Lake City. It is open to visitors daily from 8 am to dusk.

Kayaking on Santa Fe River Paddling Trail

Santa Fe River
Irinak / Shutterstock.com

The Santa Fe River Paddling Trail offers over 25 miles of trail perfect for kayaking, tubing, and canoeing. The enchanting river also offers opportunities for a wide range of nature-based recreational activities such as snorkelling, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. You can spot river otters, turtles, numerous beautiful birds, deer, and more.

The scenic trail begins from the O’Leno State Park and features numerous springs, lush foliage, diverse wildlife, swamps, and more. At the end of its journey, the river meets the Suwannee River. The waters are ideal for beginners. Explore the river waters by kayaking or tubing, view the diverse wildlife, watch beautiful birds, try your hand at fishing, and get close to nature.  The trail can be accessed from various points and you can find a multitude of outfitters.

Experience the amazing local culture at Santa Fe River Fest

This popular festival takes place over 3 days in March every year. It features live musical performances, song writing competitions, silent auctions, art shows, numerous fun activities, delicious food stalls, a dance, fundraisers, paddleboat tours with a naturalist, hiking with a botanist, and so much more. The fun and entertaining activities include bubble blowing, hula hooping, dance, and more. Be sure to try out the amazing locally crafted beer.  

Groove to the beats at the music concerts, gorge on mouth-watering local food, explore the wilderness by boating, learn fascinating facts about the regional flora and fauna from a naturalist and botanist, take part in the fun activities, and explore local art.

Picnicking at Falling Creek Falls

Falling Creek Falls
Retneprac / Shutterstock.com

This is an enchanting 10-foot waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. The site is very popular for various recreational activities, such as hiking, nature exploration, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Enjoy a lovely picnic here and admire the exquisite natural beauty, view the diverse wildlife, hike and explore the wilderness. Additionally, the site features historic buildings and a playground.

Trip to Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow spring state park
IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

This park features the scenic Rainbow River, wetlands, sprawling greenery, diverse wildlife, sandhills, woodlands, gorgeous gardens, waterfalls, picnic areas, outrageously coloured wildflowers, and so much more. It attracts myriads of nature lovers throughout the year and is one of Florida’s prime tourist attractions. It is popular for a vast array of nature-based recreational activities, such as tubing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, hiking, geocaching, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. It is the ideal place to take a break from the mundane and monotonous life and go on an adventure and explore the wilderness.

The park is home to alligators, turtles, otters, squirrels, hummingbirds, hawks, owls, and more. Enjoy the views of the beautiful wildflowers, hike on the verdant trails, go on a river adventure by tubing or kayaking, beat the heat by swimming, enjoy a lovely picnic, and get close to nature. The park is open to visitors daily from 8am to 5pm. Rental kayaks, canoes, and other equipment are available on the site. The park is about a 1 hour and 25 minutes’ drive from Lake City. Spend a fun-filled and adventurous day here with your friends and family.

Travel back in time at Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park

Olustee Battlefield Historic state park
romarti / Shutterstock.com

This historic site is where the Battle of Olustee took place in February 1864. It was the largest Civil War Battle in the state and over 10,000 soldiers fought. Close to 3000 army men lost their lives during this battle. Today the park is popular for hiking, geocaching, and picnicking. The hiking trails feature various interpretive exhibits about the battle.

The visitors centre here features numerous historical artifacts. Myriads of people visit this park in February to watch the annual re-enactment of the battle. The site is open to visitors every day of the year from 9am to 5pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is absolutely free for all.

Explore local history at Union County Historical Museum

This museum emphasises on the local history of Union County. It’s collection includes various war memorabilia, historical artifacts, and local memorabilia. You can find photographs, books, clothing, rifles, bullets, antique rocking chairs, medals, flags, and so much more. Explore fascinating local history at this museum. It is open to visitors on Saturdays and Thursdays from 10am to 1pm.

Shop fresh and local at Fifth Generation Farms

This is the perfect place to go shopping for farm fresh produce and catch a glimpse of the incredible local culture. You will find fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, poultry products, desserts, snacks, wines, beer, handicrafts, body care products, candles, books, tea, curd, baked goods, and so much more.

All the products offered for sale are sourced from local farms and producers. The place also features a café where you can sit back and relax while enjoying a delicious coffee. It is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm and on Saturdays between 9am and 6pm. The market and café is closed on Sundays.

Watch the sunset at Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Isabella is a picturesque lake located in downtown Lake City. It is a perfect spot to spend a relaxing day while enjoying the gorgeous views. Bring along a delicious picnic to relish while admiring the natural beauty of the place. You can enjoy a refreshing evening walk here and feast your eyes to the heavenly views of the sunset. The lake is surrounded by many historic buildings that you can explore.

Water Adventures at Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Ichetucknee springs state Park
Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The mesmerising Ichetucknee River meanders through the scenic landscapes of this park. The park features sprawling greenery, multiple springs, diverse wildlife, woodlands, hiking trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, swimming holes, and so much more. It is popular for a wide range of recreational activities, such as hiking, snorkelling, birding, wildlife viewing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, tubing, scuba diving, picnicking, geocaching, camping, and many more.

The park is home to water fowls, turtles, turkey, deer, otters, alligators, catfish, bass, bluegill, and several others. Explore the wilderness by camping here at night, hike on the verdant trails, cool off in the river water, go on water adventures, enjoy the sounds of nature, watch beautiful birds, relish a picnic, and get close to nature. Located 20 miles from Lake City, the park is a nature lover’s paradise. It is open to visitors daily from 8 am to sunset.

Birding at Alligator Lake Spring Festival

This annual festival takes place in April every year at Alligator Lake Park. It features tours with bird and nature experts, live music, delicious food stalls, fun activities, photography contests, arts and crafts vendors, a petting zoo, art shows by local talent, and so much more. Be a part of the festivities and experience the amazing local culture of this city.

Grab Breakfast at IHOP Restaurant

This restaurant serves excellent American breakfast at affordable rates. They are known for their delicious pancakes and amazing French toast. Start your day with a wholesome meal here and feel energized. It is open from Sunday to Thursday between 6 am and 10 pm. It is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.