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Top 18 Best Lakes in Florida to Visit in 2023


Whether you’re interested in swimming, hiking, fishing, or hunting, Florida’s lakes certainly have it all. The Sunshine State is home to hundreds of lakes, with most of them having organized activities and festivals.

Lake Okeechobee

Take a look at the best lakes in Florida and learn more about them here:

Blue Cypress LakeEast-central FloridaSightseeing, fishing, boating, hunting, sightseeing
Lake OkeechobeeCentral FloridaFishing, camping, hiking
Lake TohopekaligaCentral FloridaBird and animal watching, fishing
Crescent LakeNorth-central FloridaFishing, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking
Lake KissimmeeCentral FloridaBird and animal watching, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, weddings
Lake HarrisNorth-central FloridaBoating, fishing and waterskiing
Lake IstokpogaCentral FloridaFishing, hiking
Deer Point LakeNorthwest FloridaSecluded fishing and camping
Lake ApopkaNorth-central FloridaFishing, hiking, horseback riding
Lake DoraNorth-central FloridaAll aforementioned activities
Lake GriffinCentral FloridaWildlife watching, camping, hiking
Lake TulaneCentral FloridaSwimming, fishing, boating
Lake EllaNorthwest FloridaLocal gatherings and activities
Lake EustisNorth-central FloridaSailing and fishing
Lake IamoniaNorth FloridaWildlife watching, fishing and boating
Lake EloiseCentral FloridaFishing
Lake WelakaNorth-central FloridaBird watching and wildlife watching
Lake JacksonNorth FloridaHiking, wildlife watching (waterfowl)

1. Blue Cypress Lake

By far the most developed lake when it comes to amenities and activities, Blue Cypress Lake is filled to the brim with possibilities. 

Located in east-central Florida, it’s over 6,500 acres large.

Here, you can sign up for photography and sightseeing cruises, fishing trips and boat trips, and seasonal hunting. They also have a boat ramp and a dock, as well as a fishing camp.

This makes Blue Cypress Lake the best lake in Florida for vacationing.

Website: Blue Cypress Lake

2. Lake Okeechobee

The largest lake in Florida spans over 730 square miles and it’s a very popular location for recreation. 

Florida National Scenic Trail covers this lake too in its 1,300-mile-long hike, with a very well-maintained path.

Additionally, it’s a very popular fishing spot, with plenty of largemouth bass and crappie. Fishing tournaments are often organized, while you can also rent a cabin or use the local camping grounds to set up camp.

Website: Lake Okeechobee

3. Lake Tohopekaliga

Similar to Lake Okeechobee, this lake has a well-developed walkway and it’s a popular bird watching spot. 

At 22,700 acres, it’s the largest lake in Osceola County, and also one of the largest bird watching lakes in Florida.

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Tohopekaliga is also host to a great population of alligators, so many people come here for alligator watching. 

Needless to say, swimming isn’t advised. When it comes to fishing, largemouth bass is the largest fish in these parts with many locals renting out their boats to fishing tourists.

Website: Lake Tohopekaliga

4. Crescent Lake

Located in north-central Florida, Crescent Lake is very attractive to fishermen and bird watchers. It’s just under 16,000 acres wide, and it’s possibly the clearest lake in Florida.

Boat tours are very common, but only in canoes and paddling boats. Motorboats are forbidden so as to not disturb the wildlife. Horseback riding, hiking and camping are just some of the activities organized here.

Website: Crescent Lake

5. Lake Kissimmee

Located in central Florida, this is one of the richest lakes when it comes to wildlife. As such, it attracts a lot of professional and amateur researchers, as well as biology enthusiasts, and bird watchers.

Bald eagles, white tailed deer, ospreys, bobcats and alligators are all very common in the area. 

Boating, camping, and fishing are all very popular too, with great populations of largemouth bass, crappie and catfish available.

There are also hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails available. 

Interestingly, there are enough well-developed facilities and amenities for weddings, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s the best lake for weddings in Florida.

Website: Lake Kissimmee State Park

6. Lake Harris

With 13,788 acres, this is the largest in Lake County, and one of the seven lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Surrounded by sandhills and cypress trees, it’s accessible by boat and it has a few docks, so boating is very common in the area.

This includes many related activities, such as fishing and waterskiing. 

However, it’s most popular as a hiking spot, because it’s surrounded by cattails and bulrush, creating a beautiful scenery. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful lakes in Florida.

Website: Lake Harris

7. Lake Istokpoga

Relatively close to Lake Okeechobee, Lake Istokpoga is a 27,692-acre lake with a very shallow bottom (only 10 feet at its deepest point). Because of this, it’s a popular location for airboats.

The most popular activity here is fishing, so it’s definitely a must-visit location for fishermen. 

With at least six fishing camps at the lake, this is one of the best fishing lakes in Florida, so you’re going to have to book your fishing trip in advance.

There are also two public parks and five boat ramps, so it’s a popular hiking location too.

Website: Lake Istokpoga

8. Deer Point Lake

This little oasis is still mostly undiscovered, but that’s a great opportunity for you to visit one of the more secluded lakes in Florida. 

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It’s located very close to Panama City, and it was built to provide the area with drinking water.

Today, however, it’s starting to get more recognition as a hiking and camping spot. 

There’s only a single fishing camp (for now), the place is known for redear sunfish and largemouth bass and it’s the best lake for secluded fishing in Florida.

Website: Deer Point Lake

9. Lake Apopka

If you’re a local, you’ve definitely heard of Lake Apopka. This lake was the place to fish. 

It was a very important fishing attraction in Florida with its trophy-sized bass, with thousands of fishermen flying in from all over the country. Back in its day, this was the best bass-fishing lake in Florida.

Just to understand how popular the place was, you have to know that it had 21 fishing camps at the shoreline at one point!

Unfortunately, the lake was contaminated in the meantime and natural recovery is now in progress. Even though fishing is nowadays limited, hiking trails have been built, with horseback riding also available.

With hopefully better times ahead, Lake Apopka is one of historically more important lakes in Florida.

Website: Lake Apopka

10. Lake Dora

Situated right off the town of Mount Dora, this lake is one of the best lakes for family trips in Florida

It’s close enough to Orlando, but this lake has so many activities available that you likely won’t be making that trip.

Fishing is, needless to say, very popular, but there’s also waterskiing, windsurfing and kayaking available. Hiking trails and bird watching trips are also organized.

You’ll also find several parks in the lake’s immediate vicinity!

Website: Mount Dora

11. Lake Griffin

It’s impossible to write a list of lakes in Florida without mentioning Lake Griffin. It is located in central Florida, and it’s home to the largest live oak trees in the state.

It’s also one of the lakes with the best wildlife, as it’s home to hundreds of bird species, alligators and the river otter. 

With plenty of campgrounds (with facilities), natural hiking trails and a boat ramp, it’s a great place for a camping trip.

Website: Lake Griffin State Park

12. Lake Tulane

A very popular swimming, fishing and boating location, Lake Tulane is one of the few lakes in Florida where the alligators are very rarely seen. This is because it’s surrounded by a residential neighborhood in Avon.

It’s one of the smaller lakes in Florida, given that it’s only 88 acres, but it’s definitely worth a visit. You’ll also find picnic pavilions and a sandy beach in the area.

Because it’s so clear, this lake is often visited by scuba divers!

Website: Lake Tulane Park

13. Lake Ella

Located in Tallahassee, this lake is part of Fred Drake Park. This means that it has many facilities, amenities and organized activities. 

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The best examples are picnic shelters, a hiking trail, food truck events, concerts, and parties, which makes it one of the best lakes for local gatherings in Florida.

Even though it’s much smaller than all the other lakes on this list, it offers a lot to the locals and it’s become a local gathering spot. Follow their website to find out more about upcoming events and activities.

Website: City of Tallahassee – Lake Ella

14. Lake Eustis

This lake attracts many biologists and nature enthusiasts because it’s the endemic home of the Lake Eustis pupfish. It is the only place in the world where you can find this species.

It’s also one of the best lakes for sailing in Florida, while fishing is also very popular with a great population of bass. 

The lake has about twenty boat slips and four gazebos at the shore.

Website: Eustis – Ferran Park

15. Lake Iamonia

Lake Iamonia is a lake in North Florida, right next to the border with Georgia. It’s a great location for boating and fishing, but its prime jewel is the incredible wildlife.

Beavers, bobcats, squirrels, otters, deer, alligators, turtles, snakes, frogs, and so many more species are all very common at the site. 

The most common fish in the lake are largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish, making it one of the best lakes for nature trips in Florida.

Website: Lake Iamonia

16. Lake Eloise

Lake Eloise is a 1,174-acre-lake in Central Florida, and it’s one of the most inaccessible lakes in the state, as the entire shoreline is occupied by family houses and various facilities.

However, it’s a great fishing spot for those that find their way with a boat via the Chain of Lakes canal system. It’s one of the best crappie fishing lakes in the area, while there’s also bluegill and bass.

Website: Lake Eloise

17. Lake Welaka

Also known as Lake George, this shallow lake is located in North-central Florida and it’s home to plenty of migratory birds, which makes it a must-see bird watching location.

The wildlife doesn’t end there, as there are plenty of alligators and even marine animals. Even though it’s a freshwater lake, there’s plenty of blue crab, which makes this one of the very few freshwater lakes with a blue crab fishery.

It’s also one of the most important military lakes in Florida, because the U.S. Military uses it for bombing and aerial mining tests.

Website: Lake Welaka

18. Lake Jackson

Settled at the very north of Florida, Lake Jackson is one of Florida’s most important aquatic preserves. This is because of the diversity and the sheer number of waterfowl in the area.

That includes herons, egrets, limpkins, coots, storks, ospreys, the bald eagle, fish crow, and many other species. On top of that, they’re also home to a lot of reptiles and mammals, as well as diverse marshland vegetation.

Along with Lake Carr and Mallard Pond, Lake Jackson is part of Lake Jackson Aquatic Preserve!

Website: Lake Jackson Aquatic Preserve