Whether you’ve always called Lake County, FL your home or you’re thinking about migrating to the area, there is something truly special shining throughout this 1,157 square mile county. You could say it’s a number of different things, but we believe everything begins with the name - lake.
Lake County was named after the many lakes within its borders so it only makes sense that the majority of life revolves around these glistening bodies of water. It’s not hard to find an ordinary fishing spot, gorgeous views, or a great place to eat throughout the area. But there are also some lesser known hidden gems throughout the area that make locals proud to call the area home.
Here are some hidden treasures of lake life in Lake County, Florida you might be missing out on:
Ski Beach & Monkey Island
Venetian Gardens Ski Beach in Leesburg, FL, at one time drew hundreds of individuals to its shores. It was named by the locals back in the day because it was such a perfect spot for water skiing!
Nowadays, it’s a favorite amongst friends and families for a number of activities such as picnics, community events like the 4th of July lake fireworks show or just a great place to relax and simply admire the calm waters of Lake Harris.
Another gem, located off of Venetian Gardens in Lake Harris, is this small little patch of land known as Monkey Island. Even though you won’t find any monkeys inhabiting the island, there is a great place for picnics. Pull the boat over for some lunch or hop out for a great photo opportunity as this less than an acre island gives the best views of the surrounding cove!
The Dora Canal Experience
Have you really experienced a lake day in Lake County, FL if you haven’t cruised down the beautiful Dora Canal? This majestic and wildlife-rich connector between Lake Eustis and Lake Dora is a must see!
There are a number of local establishments that offer kayaking or canoeing experiences down this quiet and serene surrounding, or you can bring your own! Rumor has it that the Dora Canal was used to reshoot river scenes for the 1951 African Queen.
Lake Dora Attractions
Bordered by Eustis, Tavares, and Mt. Dora, Lake Dora contains some of the most luxurious Real Estate within Lake County. It is popular among boaters as the surrounding area makes for the perfect cruising environment on those beloved sunny Florida days. It’s connected to Lake Eustis through the Dora Canal and Lake Apopka through the Apopka Beauclair Canal - both canals featuring some pretty noteworthy fishing spots! Together, these make up the eastern Harris Chain lakes.
The lake is also home to an active antique boating community that is part of the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS). Lake Dora’s bordering city, Tavares, hosts the largest antique and classic wood boat show in the United States. Individuals from over 26 states and Canada flow to this area to participate, and the event typically attracts 8 to 10 thousand people every year. With 250 to 300 boats normally on display, this event provides something for everyone!
If you love the lake life you're sure to love a visit to unique waterfront establishments.
Dead River, which received its name from the lack of current, serves as the division between the cities of Tavares and Leesburg, and connects Lake Eustis and Lake Harris.
Along this river, you will find a rather special place called Palm Gardens Restaurant and Marina that offers a hand full of amenities for passing boaters and hungry visitors. Re-energize on their waterfront deck with a nice cold beverage or simply take in the view.
If it’s the weekend, they rock a satisfying raw bar, and on Wednesday nights they have their ever so popular steak night! You can even fill up your boat while having lunch, or if you’re just getting your lake day started, they have a public boat ramp you can launch right out of! Stick around this place long enough and you’re sure to spot the car boat that comes and goes frequently!
Nationally Recognized Fishing
Lake County is home to over 1,000 lakes including the Harris Chain of Lakes which is home to some of the largest lakes in Florida. On any weather cooperating day, you are sure to see folks fishing out on the lakes.
One of the main attractions throughout the Harris Chain of Lakes is bass fishing. A number of tournaments have been held throughout this chain, attracting folks from all over hoping to snag that award-winning bass.
Lake Eustis is especially popular within this chain as it has a number of surrounding canals which are very productive and consistent throughout the year for fishing. The famous sinkhole known as “Gator Hole” resides at the end of a natural canal off of Lake Eustis on the northwest corner. If you are lucky with your timing, this hole could produce the fish of a lifetime!
Clermont Chain of Lakes
A sometimes forgotten cluster of sparkling water within Lake County is the Clermont Chain of Lakes. Its 11 lakes consisting of 8,692 acres contributes largely to the flourishing community.
This chain is home to some of the best waters in Lake County and is one of the most polished lakes systems in Florida. It can even produce some of the biggest largemouth bass in Florida so it’s no surprise that tournaments are common on this chain as well. Lake Minneola, one lake within the chain, has its own fishing pier and even has a wakeboarding camp nearby. It’s known as the “Wakeboarding Capital of the World!"