Situated in Suwannee County in northern Florida, Live Oak is a small, peaceful, and pretty escape for visitors who want to be away from the crowds but close to all the main attractions of the region. With a population of only 7,000 people, you won’t have to worry about waiting in long lines or fighting the crowds.
Both the Suwannee River and the Santa Fe River border the town, and mature oak trees line the streets. The downtown area of Live Oak is a lively place with some nice restaurants and a variety of retail shops.
The wide-open green spaces within the town and in nearby communities offer plenty of opportunities to participate in a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, canoeing, and kayaking.
History and culture are very important in Live Oak, and much of the town’s way of life today was shaped by its historical rail service that was only recently revived with the addition of an Amtrak stop.
Below are 14 of the best things to do in and around Live Oak, Florida.
1. Heritage Park and Gardens
This popular green space in Live Oak features 90-acres of beautiful gardens. The sprawling landscape gives visitors and locals the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities. There are several walking trails, a disc golf course, and a picnic area and playground on-site.
Various events take place throughout the year, such as a Civil War Re-enactment.
2. Suwannee County Historical Commission and Museum
The region surrounding Live Oak has been inhabited for 12,000 years, and this museum boasts exhibits that outline the history of the very first people who called the area home.
There are also displays with information about the indigenous wildlife of the region, and historians have recreated a 16th-century Timucuan settlement.
3. Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park
There are two main springs, a spring run, and six sinkholes in immaculate condition at the Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park. If you have never cave dived, you likely have no idea what that means. But certified divers do, and their certification allows them to dive in this underwater cave system which is the longest on the continent. Very few people get to see these stunning underwater caverns.
For visitors who are not certified divers, there is much to explore above ground. Hike the interpretive nature trail through mature forest and walk along the path that follows the winding cave tunnels below.
Peacock Springs and Orange Grove Sink are popular swimming holes in the warmer months, and there is a picnic area on site.
4. The Old Hamilton County Jail
The Old Hamilton County Jail in nearby Jasper once housed prisoners and held hangings in the central tower up to the early 1900s. Today, this historic building is a museum with various documents, pictures, and artifacts on display.
5. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
About an hour away from Live Oak is the beautiful aquatic paradise of Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Defining features include more than 2,000 acres of lush greenery, pristine swimming holes with warm water, and the springs that come together to form the Ichetucknee River.
Tubing down the river and swimming are the most popular activities in the park. When swimming in one of the most popular springs, swimmers can see part of the cave system that runs beneath the surface. Certified divers are permitted to explore the cave system in this area.
During a hike along one of the nature trails in the park, visitors may spot wildlife, including beavers, otters, turtles, and many species of birds. Another spring in an upper part of the park is a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing. Other on-site amenities include a picnic area, cycling trail, playground, and washrooms.
6. The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park & Campground
Even if you don’t plan on doing any camping during your stay in the Live Oak area, The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground is the perfect place to spend a day. The docks at Rees Lake are a popular fishing area, and there are hiking and horse trails throughout the park.
Canoes and tubes are available to rent. Also on site are an in-ground swimming pool, a restaurant, a Craft Village, and a museum. For visitors who would like to stay the night but don’t like the idea of sleeping in a tent, there’s a luxury treehouse available for rent.
7. Suwannee Country Club
The Suwannee Country Club in Live Oak is semi-private but it is open to the public, which means visitors can enjoy brushing up on their skills at the driving range and teeing off at the 9-hole course.
There’s a banquet hall with a full kitchen on-site, and everyone has access to White Lake, which is located on the grounds.
8. Troy Springs State Park
Troy Springs State Park is home to a magnificent spring that is an astonishing 70 feet deep. At this spring, visitors can enjoy a popular swimming hole. For the more adventurous types, snorkeling is a popular activity. If you are certified, you can scuba dive into the spring and see the stunning natural features under the surface and the remains of a steamboat from the Civil War years.
There’s also an interpretative walking trail through a forest area, but many people choose to kick back and fish along the banks of the river.
9. Gan Eden Farms
A warm, family-friendly environment welcomes visitors to Gan Eden Farms. Various crops are harvested for local farmers’ markets, and children especially love meeting the residents, including dogs, goats, chickens, and cows.
10. The International Falconry Academy
Falcons, hawks, and owls are expert predators, and you can learn all about these fascinating birds and their hunting skills at the International Falconry Academy. Start your visit with an introduction to falconry, followed by a hands-on course or workshop that will allow you to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.
These outings are suitable for all ages; they include watching these birds do what they do best, and nature walks with a trained and informative guide.
11. Mystic Jungle Educational Facility Inc.
At Mystic Jungle Educational Facility Inc, visitors can book to go on a tour and see a variety of animals, including bobcats, tigers, and leopards. There are both public and private tours available, and deluxe tours feature an opportunity to feed a tiger.
The animals who make their home here have all been displaced or injured and require care in order to survive.
12. The Dixie Grill
A must-do while in Live Oak Florida is to try out some local Southern Cuisine. It doesn’t get much more authentic than at The Dixie Grill in the historic heart of downtown. This restaurant, which has been around since 1959, is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
On offer are various traditional and modern dishes, along with an assortment of unique ones that combine a traditional touch with modern additions to create something locals call New South Cuisine. Lavish breakfasts, hearty comfort food, and healthy sandwiches and salads made with fresh, local ingredients are just some of the items available.
13. Lower Suwannee River Wilderness State Trail
The Lower Suwannee River Wilderness State Trail is mainly a paddling trail for kayaks and canoes, but along the way, there are many things to see both on the water and on land. As you make your way down the river, you will encounter opportunities to learn more about the area, its history, and what’s being done to protect the delicate environment.
On the river, you will experience tranquillity surrounded by stunning scenery. On land, you will find various nature trails, green spaces, camping areas, museums, and cultural experiences. There’s also plenty of wildlife around the area.
14. Suwannee River State Park
Not too far from Live Oak is the beautiful natural oasis of Suwannee River State Park. Almost every outdoor activity imaginable can be enjoyed here. There are a number of hiking trails, including Little Gem Spring, Lime Sink Run, Sandhill Trail, and The Big Oak Trail, which is a longer hike at 12.5 miles.
Along these trails, visitors can expect to see lush vegetation and wildlife, including cypress trees and many species of birds.
The canoeing in this park is said to be the best in Florida, and there are canoe rentals available. Cyclists enjoy access to several trails of varying levels. Fishing is also a popular activity.
Amenities that can be found throughout Suwannee State Park include picnic areas, campsites, cabin rentals, a playground, and some exhibits that detail the history of the land from the time the Paleo Indians settled along the river up to the arrival of European explorers.