15 Best Things to Do in Okeechobee, FL

Okeechobee, FL
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With its whimsical name, Okeechobee strikes the curious minds of travelers looking for the perfect Florida escape.

This vibrant attraction is located north of the vast Lake Okeechobee, also known as Florida’s inland sea.

Thanks to this location, the city is blessed with the bounty from the large body of water and nearby agricultural lands.

Aside from these resources, you’ll find many indoor and outdoor attractions for every preference.

From long trails to expansive preserves, from shooting ranges to casinos, there’s plenty to see and try here.

And it’s not just in the city proper, as the city’s territory reaches all the way to the lake’s halfway point.

So for an upcoming weekend getaway, make this place your top destination.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Okeechobee, FL:

Explore Kissimmee River on a Kayak

People kayaking on Kissimmee River.
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The grand Kissimmee River is another significant water feature in Okeechobee.

It spans more than 134 miles, beginning in Osceola County before emptying into Lake Okeechobee.

In the past, the river was heavily polluted.

People on kayaks at Kissimmee River.
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But under the restoration efforts for the Everglades, it has been mostly brought back to its pristine original state.

It’s said to be one of the world’s largest true ecosystem restoration projects, attracting many ecologists who want to see the incredible changes that happened here.

Today, it’s become a favorite kayaking destination from the city, especially the quieter segments upriver.

Cruising the waters is an excellent way to catch glimpses of the rich wildlife abounding on this side of the Everglades.

People kayaking on Kissimmee River.
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Join the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival

A band playing at Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival.
Shannon McGee, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The annual Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival is a bombastic event held on the expansive Sunshine Grove property.

Since it started in 2016, it has attracted tens of thousands of people for four days of live music and visual arts.

Six stages are set up on the venue during the festival, each with headlining artists performing hit songs.

Some of the people who’ve graced the stage include Skrillex, Kendrick Lamar, and Mumford & Sons.

Aside from the live music performances, you’ll find stalls showcasing stunning artworks, nighttime light shows, and transformative events.

Camping is also a festival feature, with many sites within the property where visitors can stay and enjoy the rowdy scene.

Just don’t expect much peace—there’s magic and music in the air that will definitely go louder once the sun sets.

Make a Stopover at Flagler Park

Military equipments display at flagler park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike other city parks, Flagler Park has an unusual structure that makes it a unique green space.

It’s composed of five city blocks separated by small roads, all considered a single destination.

These are located next to Highway 98, which cleaves its way in the middle of Okeechobee’s city proper.

Hence, the park is easily accessible to most people.

A gun display at flagler park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of this convenience, the local government started using the park as the venue for many events.

These include the Speckled Perch Festival, Art in the Park, and Christmas Festival.

If you miss these events, you can still explore the verdant grounds of the park and enjoy the bustling atmosphere.

There’s also Veteran’s Park on the sixth block, featuring war machines like tanks and helicopters.

A military tank display at flagler park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See the Birds at Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area

The complete name of this attraction is Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area/Nature Trail/Wildlife Preservation Area—quite the mouthful.

So most people simply call it the Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area, a vast attraction located north of Okeechobee’s city proper.

Covering an area of 170 acres, this place is primarily used as a water treatment facility that reduces the phosphorous content of runoff before it flows to Lake Okeechobee.

But today, most people visit the marshy area for the many birding opportunities.

Thanks to the lack of tall trees, birdwatchers have uninterrupted views of the vast flats.

So it’s easy to spot the many species hunting, feeding, and resting in between the grasses and on the shallow surface of Taylor Creek.

These include the Florida Sandhill Crane, Roseate Spoonbill, whistling ducks, and Marsh Wrens.

Bring your camera or binoculars to document these majestic creatures as they go about their day.

Relax and Unwind at Lake Okeechobee Park

Lake Okeechobee Park serves as one of the gateways into the eponymous body of water, located on the southern edge of the city proper.

It’s one of the favorite places in town for lakeside activities, with the park’s vast ground offering space for many visitors.

One of the most prominent features is the observation deck and pavilion, which juts into the lake.

To access it, you only need to cross the boardwalk that offers magnificent views of the surrounding area.

The rest of the park is located on land, with verdant grounds, sandy beaches, and patches of woodland that provide ample shade.

Since pets are allowed on the grounds, you can bring your pooch here.

For those who like more fitness-related activities, you can take on the Florida National Scenic Trail, which passes through the park.

Cruise the Waters of Lake Okeechobee

Trees reflecting on Lake Okeechobee.
Francisco Blanco / Shutterstock.com

Since we’re already next to Lake Okeechobee, we might as well head to its deep waters!

This lake is the largest freshwater lake in Florida, covering a whopping 734 square miles in total surface area.

It’s an ecological and historical hotspot that has significantly affected the lives of societies around it until today.

But most visitors know it for the myriad of activities to do while in the lake.

A bird near the waters of Lake Okeechobee.
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From the many boat launches on the banks, you can board a kayak or a small boat and explore the isolated and marshy banks.

And if you want to head to the deeper ends, a bigger watercraft is necessary.

Most people come to the lake’s center to try catching the freshwater game swimming in the depths.

These include large and smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and the occasional pickerel.

Lily pads on Lake Okeechobee.
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Aim for the Target at Okeechobee Shooting Sports

Set on an isolated area north of the city proper, Okeechobee Shooting Sports is the perfect spot for some target practice.

It’s one of Florida’s premier shooting destinations, with 100 acres of protected space where visitors can hit the target as long as they please.

There are several ranges for particular options, such as rifles and pistols and another for private shooting.

On one end, you can try clay shooting sports like skeet and trap shooting.

These are immensely satisfying activities that even beginners will enjoy.

If you plan on staying for a few days to make the most of the range, there are several campsites available for reservation.

RVs and traditional tents are allowed, and utility hookups are installed for a convenient stay.

Test Your Luck at Seminole Casino Brighton

Another far-off destination that still belongs to Okeechobee is the vibrant Seminole Casino Brighton, located near the eastern banks of Lake Okeechobee.

So if you want to experience the thrill of gambling without the frivolity of gaming facilities in the big cities, this destination is for you!

The expansive complex has more than 27,000 square feet of space.

Within the building, you’ll find more than 400 gaming and slot machines, high-stakes bingo rooms, and a full-service restaurant and lounge.

In addition, there are plenty of table games like poker and blackjack for those who want to test their luck.

On occasion, national and local artists will grace the stage of the casino for a night of memorable performances.

Check out the calendar of events to see upcoming acts during your visit!

Find Peace and Quiet at Centennial Park

A walkway at Centennial Park.
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com

Scenic Centennial Park is a waterside attraction sitting next to Taylor Creek.

Since it’s located near the suburbs of Okeechobee, the destination attracts many families in the area looking for a quick escape.

It may not be as large as the other parks in the city, but its size adds a level of tranquility and intimacy that every visitor will enjoy.

Palm trees at Centennial Park.
Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com

There are wide, open spaces for kids to run around, pavilions where you can host small gatherings, and waterfront views of two creeks meeting on a corner.

If you’re bringing food, you can stay at the picnic area, which has grills for barbeques and cookouts.

One advanced feature of the facility is the solar charging stations, which take advantage of the bright Florida sun to charge your devices.

Conquer the Trails of Taylor Creek/Nubbins Slough Conservation Area

Compared to Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area, the Taylor Creek/Nubbins Slough Conservation Area is a more expansive attraction.

They are both located on the northern reaches of Okeechobee, with geographical features similar to that of the Everglades.

And like the Taylor Creek Stormwater Treatment Area, this destination is used to manage the waters that flow into Lake Okeechobee.

But there are also many other creeks and small waterways that flow through this wetland.

So trails have been set up to let curious visitors and nature lovers wander into the wilderness.

Aside from the marshes, patches of forests add variation to the otherwise flat terrain covering most of the area.

These woodlands have been developed into small mountain biking tracks.

So aside from watching the wildlife, you can hop on a bicycle and ride your way through the scenic forested segments.

Marvel at the Vistas of Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

Open space at Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.
RicoRico, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lengthy Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a greenway system encompassing more than 1,000 miles.

This particular segment surrounds the lake’s perimeter, making it the best route for those who want to explore all the hidden wonders of the area.

And it has a considerable length as well, spanning 109 miles.

Body of water at Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Since it’s a multi-use trail, you can explore it on foot or on a bike.

Whichever option you choose, be sure to slow down once in a while to take in the magnificent views.

Thanks to the flatness of the terrain in this region, you’ll get uninterrupted panoramas of the lake and the swamps surrounding it.

Watch the Night Sky at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Welcome sign of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.
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The farthest and largest attraction in Okeechobee is the breathtaking Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.

While it encompasses other towns and counties, the park’s main access points are from the city.

This vast expanse of grassland and marshes covers 54,000 acres and contains a wide range of habitats.

Sunset at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

Because of these features, the state park has become home to many native Florida animals, like burrowing owls and crested caracara.

So you can go birdwatching here, aside from hiking and exploring the park’s trails.

But the real treat comes at night.

Since the attraction is so far from city lights, it has become a hotspot for night sky viewing in Florida.

So look up and see the Milky Way Galaxy and other celestial bodies glimmering in the inky black sky.

Landscape at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.
William Silver / Shutterstock.com

Stay at Okeechobee KOA Resort

If you’re looking for a base camp for all your adventures in Okeechobee, Okeechobee KOA Resort is an excellent option.

It’s a little slice of tropical paradise filled with modern amenities and attractions.

The most prominent of these is the nine-hole golf course, with its towering palms and lush fairways that make for an exceptional game.

Since the resort is part of the Kampgrounds of America franchise, you can expect state-of-the-art camping facilities for the whole family.

These include sites for RVs, trailers, and traditional tents, all equipped with utility hookups for a convenient stay.

Aside from these, the resort hosts a banquet hall and has pools for relaxing dips under the Florida sun.

Watch the Fight Unfold at Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park

Field at Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park.
Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the Second Seminole War, the Battle of Lake Okeechobee took place near Taylor Creek.

This resulted in heavy losses from the side of the Americans, which were led by Zachary Taylor, who eventually became the 12th US President.

Today, the state park is mostly used for agricultural purposes, but there’s a dedicated section landmarked as the general area where the battle took place.

This 640-acre patch of land was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and has undergone archeological digs and preservation in the 1980s.

While there aren’t any old structures to see, the state park hosts re-enactments where the divisive fight is played.

So you’ll hear thundering cannon fire and gunshots and people in costumes making their way to the enemy behind tall grasses.

The rest of the state park is composed of undisturbed habitats where native Florida wildlife lives.

Bring binoculars or cameras to spot these animals as they fly or scurry about in the grasses.

Go Restaurant Hopping Downtown

Okeechobee’s busy downtown is where most commercial and hospitality establishments are located.

So if you want to sample the iconic cuisine of Florida while in the city, visit the area near the intersection of Parrott Avenue and Park Street.

Pogey’s Family Restaurant is a local institution beloved for its casual setting and selection of hearty American staples.

At Parrott Island, you can enjoy a menu consisting of seafood dishes freshly caught from the waters near Florida, including shrimp, fish, and shellfish.

Another destination for savory seafood is Lakeside Grill, which also has a selection of classic breakfast dishes for the whole family.

Final Thoughts

Okeechobee offers the quintessential central Florida experience with its lush outdoor attractions, lakes, resorts, casinos, and other fun destinations.

So whether you’re an adventurer, a nature lover, or a thrill-seeker, you’ll find something to enjoy while in the city.

Reference this list when planning your itinerary so you won’t miss the top spots!