15 Best Things to Do in Leesburg, FL

Leesburg, FL
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The rich history and stunning scenery will make you want to try the best things to do in Leesburg, Florida.

Leesburg is part of Lake County.

Lake Harris and Lake Griffin are both located in the city's vicinity.

In 1857, Evander McIver Lee became the first permanent resident in Leesburg.

Many of his brothers were waiting for him when he got there.

One of them, Calvin Lee, is credited with giving the city its name.

At one point, the city served as a hub of activity for the whole Sumter County area. Tavares was chosen as the seat of Lake County in 1887 when it was created.

During the early 20th century, Leesburg was a major watermelon-producing area in Virginia.

The inaugural Watermelon Festival was held in 1930, and it has been an annual event ever since.

The city's watermelon supply began to decline, and it was necessary to import watermelons from elsewhere for the 1957 celebration, which was the city's final.

When the country was reeling from the Great Depression, the Roosevelt administration decided to put money into infrastructure and repair projects all around the nation.

His Works Progress Administration kicked off the Venetian Gardens waterside park on Lake Harris's shoreline.

Since then, these canals and gardens have served as a neighborhood's focal point.

Leesburg, Virginia, is a nature lover's paradise; there are countless outdoor activities to choose from.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Leesburg.

Spot Some Wildlife at Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area

View of the marsh from a boat
Archaeopteryx Tours / shutterstock.com

Emeralda Marsh formerly covered over a 10,000-acre land area on Lake Griffin's eastern shore near the Ocklawaha River's headwaters.

The district bought this 6,577-acre project area was bought for restoration by the district from the state's Conservation and Recreation Lands acquisition program for somewhat under half its original cost.

A signage reminding tourists and locals about the conservation area.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Park Service declared the region a National Natural Landmark in 1974.

The Ocklawaha River and Lake Griffin's water resources are actively restored in this conservation area.

Walkway and a cottage to get a closer look of the wildlife.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the property's seasonal wildlife drive, guests may witness the district's restoration efforts, take in the marsh, and spot animals all while driving through it.

A boat launch and an observation deck with sweeping marsh views are also available to visitors during daytime hours.

Tour Paquette's Historical Farmall Tractor Museum

Do you have family members that enjoy tractors?

Get together and head to Leesburg, where Paquette's Historical Farmall Museum is located.

In addition to the museum's collection of 200 tractors, there are also more than 100 other classic farm machinery pieces to explore.

One may think that Paquette grew raised on a farm by looking at his enormous collection.

Stewart Paquette had no idea about tractors before.

While growing up in New Hampshire and subsequently moving to Leesburg, Virginia, his family had a construction firm.

His curiosity about tractors began when Paquette watched RFD-TV one evening, and he saw a Max Armstrong show tractor pulls.

In 2010, Paquette inaugurated his tractor museum, and since then, his collection has grown tremendously.

Go Fishing at Lake Harris

Overview of Lake Harris.
Roger Epps / shutterstock.com

Big and Little Lake Harris include more than 16,000 square miles of water surface area.

This lake is a catchbasin for all water flowing east of the Howey Bridge.

Big Lake Harris encompasses the water to its west as of the bridge.

View of the Lake and fishing dock.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fishermen and kayakers go to Little Lake Harris, largely undeveloped.

The water in this lake is significantly cleaner than that of the rest of the chain.

There are about 700 residences in the Royal Harbor retirement community near the top of Little Lake Harris.

The Boat Ramps at Hickory Point Tavares.

Lake Harris during sunset.
TAMMY M JOHNSON / shutterstock.com

The chain's largest water park, Hickory Point Marina, is located right across the street.

Because of the many boat ramps, picnic places, huge pavilions, soccer fields, and wide-open spaces, this park is well-liked by locals and tourists.

Modern dry storage marinas may be found close by as well.

Catch a Baseball Game at Pat Thomas Stadium-Buddy Lowe Field

There are around 2,000 seats available at the Pat Thomas Stadium-Buddy Lowe Field.

It served as a minor league baseball stadium before being converted to an amateur baseball venue.

Several minor and major league spring training camps have been held at the park, the state's first lit baseball venue.

At Lake Harris' coast, near the city's Venetian Gardens, is the stadium, which hosts various sporting events.

To commemorate the previous City Manager of Leesburg, Pat Thomas Memorial Field was renamed on March 10, 1972.

The stadium was originally called The Ballpark at Venetian Gardens.

Go On a Retail Adventure at Lake Square Mall

Lake Square Mall was initially known as ViaPort Florida.

Exclusive Management and Properties is running the facility, which opened in September of that year.

In addition to Belk, the mall is home to Via Entertainment, a movie theater complex.

Throughout the year, Lake Square Mall hosts a variety of fun and educational events for the enjoyment of the whole family and the local community.

With 12 screens, the AMC 12-Plex Theatre has something for every family member.

Take a Stroll Around Venetian Gardens Park

Gazebo inside the Venetian Gardens Park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

This family-friendly park in Leesburg is one of the best in Central Florida.

The 100-acre Venetian Gardens Park on Lake Harris's shoreline offers boat ramps, beach access, and facilities for baseball and tennis.

A pool is accessible seasonally, and a cultural center is housed inside the park.

Wooden bridge to stroll the other side of the park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The park's canals and bridges are the inspiration for the name, which derives from Venice, Italy.

Thanks to the bridges connecting the several islands, it seems more like Venice than central Florida.

Go Kayaking and Canoeing at Lake Griffin

Visitors may explore this 620-acre park in a variety of ways.

Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Lake Griffin for anglers and birdwatchers.

No worries, as the park provides canoe and kayak trips for those who don't want to paddle alone.

It also offers guided pontoon boat cruises for those who prefer a more leisurely pace.

Two two-mile-long hiking routes may be found in the park.

Swamp and sandhill ecosystems are among the many sights to behold along the trip.

Raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, and even bears are not uncommon sightings in the area.

Contact the local ranger station to find out whether guided hikes are available.

Also, check out the state's second-largest living oak tree, about 400 years old, before you depart.

Take some time to properly appreciate what the park and its neighboring areas have to offer if you believe it's overwhelming.

Each of our 40 campsites has water and an electric hookup.

Sewage is available at some locations, and all sites fill up rapidly throughout the winter.

Start Your Engines at Adrenaline Rush Raceway

Family-friendly activities abound at Adrenaline Rush, a locally owned and operated entertainment complex.

It is the largest track in Lake County.

With its Sodi electric karts, you may experience the exhilaration of a difficult technical circuit that the company's experts have devised.

Indoor go-karts for adults and Junior Karts for kids are also available at the facility.

Play laser tag with your friends, win prizes in its awesome arcade, and check out our 15-minute escape rooms, kids' corner play area, and ax-throwing.

Get ready for an exhilarating sensation when you visit!

Discover the City's History at Leesburg Heritage Museum

Exterior of the historic Leesburg Heritage Museum.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In its own right, the museum has a fascinating past.

The museum houses the Leesburg Library, the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce, several community organizations, the Leesburg High School Prom, and the Poinsettia Ball.

Artifacts and memorabilia from Leesburg's rich history are displayed at the museum, which tells the town's heritage from the days of the citrus kingdom and the famed Watermelon Festival through the Leesburg Centennial in 1957.

Meanwhile, the archive collections provide insight into the city's history and the people who lived and worked there throughout the years.

In 1976 the city formed an organization responsible for staffing the Leesburg Heritage Museum.

See Various Exhibits during the Leesburg Arts Fuse Festival

Founded in 1977, the Leesburg Art Festival (LAF) hosts a variety of artistic, creative, and cultural activities to raise awareness of the importance of art in our lives.

There will be live art demonstrations, sculptures, music, performances, and interactive areas at the Leesburg Art Fuse Festival.

The event, organized by the Leesburg Center for the Arts, features various artists from Central Florida and the South during the two-day event.

A selection of establishments in Downtown Leesburg displays the artists' work.

There are also stores, services, and dining options found in this charming location.

Go Cycling Through Bourlay Historic Nature Park

Six small loop trails go through hardwoods and pine Flatwoods that may be accessed from the parking/trailhead location, a shotgun-style, old Florida cracker home.

A butterfly garden near the parking lot is designed to inspire people to employ native landscaping species in their yards to attract pollinators.

Near the park's entrance, the Woodpecker Loop Trail is a great place to see resident songbirds like White-eyed Vireos and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, as well as Pileated, Downy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

The Nature Way Trail and the Waterfront Landing Trail, with its expansive view of Lake Griffin and its resident Purple Gallinules, Ring-billed Gulls, Great Blue Herons, are two more worthwhile options, especially during winter.

You can spot several different raptors at the park, such as Cooper's Hawk, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, and many more.

Up to 15 species of wood-warblers, including Kentucky and Magnolia, have been documented during the migration of Painted Buntings.

Kayaks are available on-site for rent, or you may bring your own to paddle around Lake Griffin if you'd rather not rent.

Head to the Settler's Bend Trail and follow it westward to launch the canoe.

Visit the Mote-Morris House

Grand architecture of Mote-Morris House.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Leesburg Mayor Edward H. Mote built the Mote-Morris House, which was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, for his wife, Lucretia.

It was purchased by John S. and May James Morris in 1918 and remained in the Morris family for the following seven decades.

When the Morrison United Methodist Church bought the home in August 1988, they made it available to anyone who could relocate it.

A new location in Leesburg was made possible thanks to a $95,000.00 donation from the community.

The Mote-Morris House was relocated to its current position on September 1, 1990, from its former location on Main Street.

However, Mote-Morris was severely damaged in a fire in February.

The Mote-Morris House in Leesburg, Virginia, reopened on June 2021 after being renovated by KMF Architects and Evergreen Construction.

Play Bowling at AMF Leesburg Lanes

At AMF Leesburg Lanes, you'll find the coolest lanes in your neighborhood!

Lanes include black lights, plush lounge couches, HD television displays playing sporting games, vintage family flicks, and music videos.

In its luxury arcade, you'll find the latest video games, as well as a slew of old-school favorites.

Take a trip down memory lane with your old favorites and make some new ones as you play Mario Kart, Jurassic Park Arcade, and World's Largest Pac-Man.

Put some money on your arcade card, grab the controllers, and have some fun!

Join the Leesburg Bikefest

A guy flexing his bike during the festival.
Steven X King Photography / shutterstock.com

In 1997, the first Leesburg Bikefest had four vendors, canned beer, and a few local garage bands, drawing an estimated 5,000 bikers.

A decade later, Bikefest has developed into an annual tradition drawing in over 300,000 people.

Leesburg Bikefest is organized by the Leesburg Partnership, which requires a lot of planning and preparation throughout the year to make the event a reality.

Bikefest has evolved from a one-day event to a three-day event, occupying 20+ blocks in Downtown Leesburg and the Gator Harley Davidson facility to satisfy the needs of participants.

Since then, Downtown Leesburg has been transformed into a food lover's paradise, with more than 250,000 people flocking to sample the offerings of hundreds of food and goods vendors.

This Lake County event is made even more special because it is restricted to motorcycles exclusively for the sake of the riders' safety.

Grab Some Fresh Produce at Leesburg's Night Market

You don't want to buy items engineered by humans to be larger, store longer, and be more visually appealing with less or zero nutritional value.

With fresh produce, the difference in freshness improves the flavor and keeps your food fresher for longer.

It also adds significant nutritional value!

Leesburg Night Market features freshly harvested and cooked goods.

Plus, you can buy them directly from the growers.

Leesburg Night Market also features artists, craftsmen, crafters, organic food, a mobile art studio for children, and many more.

Final Thoughts

Unlike any other Florida town, Leesburg has a strong sense of belonging to the state's residents.

As it's developed tremendously in the last decade, the city has become a must-see destination for everyone, thanks to its exciting yearly events and natural wonders.

Explore the lakes, explore conservation areas and natural preserves, and enjoy the vast open-air of Florida.