15 Best Lakes in Florida

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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Florida has the longest coastline in the States, being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Straits of Florida. Most of the state sits on a peninsula within sea level, with its highest point being Britton Hill at 105 metres. In fact, Florida is the flattest state in the country.

The Florida peninsula is made up of karst limestone sitting above bedrock, with numerous springs, sinkholes and underwater caves. There are also a plethora of lakes and reservoirs all over the state, many of which drain into the rivers and surrounding water.

Lets have a look at the best lakes in Florida:

1. Lake Kissimmee

Lake KissimmeeSource: Italo Paulino / shutterstock
Lake Kissimmee

Sitting in the Lake Kissimmee State Park, Lake Kissimmee is famous for its amazing wildlife. White tailed deer, bald eagles, ospreys, bobcats and alligators are just a few of the animals that live within the park and around the 141 square kilometre lake.

Lake Kissimmee is known for its phenomenal bird watching, as well as having some of the best fishing in Florida. Boat ramps sit around the lake for fishing and leisure boating, and there are also plenty of campsites around.

Equestrian trails, hiking trails, picnic tables and playgrounds are available for visitors, as are restroom facilities. Lake Kissimmee is also a popular wedding venue, though its wildlife is its main draw.

2. Lake Tohopekaliga

Lake TohopekaligaSource: PJ_Photography / shutterstock
Lake Tohopekaliga

Also referred to as Lake Toho, Lake Tohopekaliga is famous for its bird watching and fishing, being home to waterfowl and trophy bass. There is also a wide array of alligators, turtles and other local wildlife.

There are playgrounds and picnic tables at the west end of the lake as well as a marina for launching and storing boats. There is also a hiking trail for those that want to explore the surrounding natural scenery in the area.

Lake Tohopekaliga is the largest lake in Osceola County, covering an area of around 92 square kilometres. It is also one of the largest lakes in all of Florida.

3. Lake Harris

Lake HarrisSource: Roger Epps / shutterstock
Lake Harris

This 55 square kilometre lake is one of the Harris Chain of Lakes in the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin. It is the largest lake in the area, though it is known for its irregular shape.

The Leesburg International Airport sits on the north-eastern shore of Lake Harris, with sand hills and cypress surrounding the rest of the lake, creating a stunning backdrop.

Lake Harris is a popular spot for boating and fishing, though water skiing is also enjoyed by many. There are also campgrounds and recreational areas surrounding the lake.

4. Lake Eola

Lake EolaSource: ESB Professional / shutterstock
Lake Eola

Lake Eola sits in Downtown Orlando within the Lake Eola Park. The Disney Amphitheatre, Chinese pagoda and a playground sit along the 1,369 mile shoreline of the lake.

It is a small lake that is famous for its fountain, which illuminates at night and creates something truly spectacular. Visitors often paddleboat around the lake both in the day time and in the evening when it is lit up by the fountain.

Lake Eola was established in 1888 by Orlando resident Jacob Summerlin. Since then the park has expanded around it to include a paved patio, wide sidewalks, a welcome centre and a gift shop.

5. Lake Okeechobee

Lake OkeechobeeSource: Allison Michael / shutterstock
Lake Okeechobee

Known to many as the ‘Big O’, Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in all of Florida, covering an area of over 700 square miles. The lake spreads across five counties, boasting stunning scenery throughout its entirety.

The name Okeechobee are Hitchiti words that mean water and big, with its origins dating back to the 16th century. Today, the massive lake is a famous fishing spot, particularly for largemouth bass and crappie.

Lake Okeechobee sits along the Florida National Scenic Trail, which is great for hiking and cycling. It is a popular vacation spot, with cottages for rent and campgrounds for pitching a tent or an RV.

6. Lake Talquin

Lake TalquinSource: gadzius / shutterstock
Lake Talquin

Surrounded by ravines and rolling hills, Lake Talquin is a beautiful lake that is home to squirrels, wild turkeys, alligators, bald eagles and whitetail deer. It is also a popular lake for fishing, with largemouth bass, crappie and pickerel being just a few of the fish that can easily be caught in the lake.

Lake Talquin is home to the Florida State University Crew Club, while the Lake Talquin State Forest and Rock Bluff Recreation Area also sit around its shoreline. It is a great lake for boating, sailing and canoeing, as the scenery is quite spectacular.

Lake Talquin is located in north Florida around 15 kilometres west of Tallahassee. It was created in 1927 together with the building of the Jackson Bluff Dam, but today much of the lake is used for recreation.

7. Lake Istokpoga

Lake IstokpogaSource: Brandon Noel / shutterstock
Lake Istokpoga

Lake Istokpoga is a freshwater lake that sits in Florida’s Highlands County. The lake is popular for fishing and boating, as there are numerous fish camps surrounding it.

The rectangular-shaped lake is the fifth largest in the state, though it is quite shallow. Still, this does not discourage boaters from enjoying the lake, though bass and pontoon boats are the best types of boats to use to cruise around it.

There are five boat ramps, two parks and several camping grounds surrounding the lake, making it a great place for an overnight stay. There are also some houses for rent around the lake for those that want a little bit more comfort.

8. Crescent Lake

Crescent LakeSource: Jon Bilous / shutterstock
Crescent Lake

Located in North Central Florida, Crescent Lake is a freshwater lake that is quite undeveloped, making it quite beautiful. It is a long and narrow lake that is surrounded by palms and cypress swamp.

Crescent Lake is known for its black crappie, making it a great fishing spot. Catfish, striped bass and black bass also live in the water, while eagles, egrets, osprey and herons are amongst the birds that are often seen around the lake.

There are fishing camps with boat ramps and accommodations around the 65 square kilometre lake, making it a great vacation destination. At the east side of the lake is the Alligator, a steamboat that sunk in 1909.

9. Lake Eustis

Lake EustisSource: Amanda Adnama / shutterstock
Lake Eustis

Lake Eustis is a spring fed lake that sits just west of the city of Eustis in Central Florida. It is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by several communities, including Los Vegas, Haines Creek and Tavares.

The lake is famous for its Lake Eustis pupfish, which the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has listed as a species of special concern. There are also plenty of bass living in the lake, making it a popular spot for fishing.

Sailing is a popular thing to do at Lake Eustis. It is home to a sailing club that often holds annual regattas, as well as offering sailing lessons and camping facilities.

10. Lake Seminole

Lake SeminoleSource: Jeremy A. Casado / shutterstock
Lake Seminole

This freshwater lake is the second largest in Florida’s Pinellas County, having a surface area of just under three square kilometres. The lake was once an estuary, but became a lake in the 1940s when the upper portion of Long Bayou was closed.

Water skiing, jet skiing, fishing and boating are popular activities that are enjoyed at Lake Seminole. There is also a county park attached to the lake that provides year round access to it.

Families and nature-enthusiasts often visit the lake, as it is boasts a hiking trail, volleyball courts and a softball field, as well as picnic shelters, playgrounds and toilet facilities. There is also a boat ramp within the county park.

11. Newnans Lake

Newnans LakeSource: LaggedOnUser / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Newnans Lake

Newnans Lake is a protected site due to its wildlife, which includes fox, otter, white-tailed deer and numerous species of snakes. It is also home to a variety of birds, making it a well-liked spot for birdwatchers.

The historic The Lake Pithlachocco Canoe Site sits on the northeast shore of the lake, while hiking, cycling, picnicking and horseback riding are enjoyed around the lake’s surrounding area. Fishing is also quite a popular activity at Newnans Lake.

The two kilometre wide lake is located just east of Gainesville in North Central Florida. It is easily accessible by road and has a number of car parks, with the south region of the lake boasting a boat ramp.

12. Blue Cypress Lake

Blue Cypress LakeSource: Dennis W Donohue / shutterstock
Blue Cypress Lake

At just under nine square kilometres, Blue Cypress Lake is the largest lake in the Treasure Coast region of Florida. The lake is home to the starting point of St. John’s River, as well as being home to the famous Middleton’s Fish Camp.

Middleton’s Fish Camp is the only fish camp at Blue Cypress Lake, and in addition to offering boat hire and ramps, it also has cabins, camping grounds and a picnic area. It also features a bait shop, a snack shop and public toilet facilities.

Originally called Lake Wilmington, Blue Cypress Lake is 18 kilometres west of Fellsmere and is easily accessible by road. The city of Palm Bay is also close by.

13. Lake June in Winter

Lake June in WinterSource: Judy Gallagher / Flickr | CC BY
Lake June In Winter

Located in the west side of Lake Placid, Lake June in Winter is a kidney-shaped lake that is bordered by the Lake June in Winter Scrub State Park. The park takes up the entire west side of the lake, and features trails and sheltered picnic areas.

There is a sports complex, softball diamonds and a public beach within the park, as well as a boat ramp for visitors with their own boat or canoe. There is also another park (H.L. Bishop Park) on the opposite side of the lake that has picnic tables, a boat ramp and a fishing dock.

Two canals connect Lake June in Winter to others in the area, including Lake August. Lake Henry and Lake Lachard are also close by.

14. Lake Parker

Lake ParkerSource: Laurel A Egan / shutterstock
Lake Parker

This is one of the most popular lakes in Lakeland in terms of recreational use. Fishing and boating are the most popular activities at Lake Parker, which is home to bluegill, largemouth bass and crappie.

Lake Parker is the largest lake in Lakeland, sitting to the northeast of the city. It is surrounded by parks and greenery, as well as being the starting point of the Lake-To-Lake Trail, which ends at Lake John.

There are three boat ramps around the lake’s shoreline, in addition to a city ramp that sits on the west coast of the 8.8 square kilometre lake. It is an important ecological area, as it flows to the Peace River and Saddle Creek.

15. Lake Iamonia

Lake IamoniaSource: Michael Rivera / Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 4.0
Lake Iamonia

Dating back to the Early Pleistocene, Lake Iamonia is a fascinating body of water that was formed through various glacial retreats. Numerous fossils have been found both within and surrounding the lake, including ancient horse, dogs and camels.

The lake is located in the Red Hills Region in North Florida close to the neighbouring state of Georgia. The Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy sits on the north side of the lake, while the south side is home to a number of developments.

Lake Iamonia is home to numerous wildlife, including beaver, coyote, red fox, nine-banded armadillo, snapping turtle and alligators. There are also numerous fish species within the lake, making it a popular place to go fishing.

15 Best Lakes in Florida:

  • Lake Kissimmee
  • Lake Tohopekaliga
  • Lake Harris
  • Lake Eola
  • Lake Okeechobee
  • Lake Talquin
  • Lake Istokpoga
  • Crescent Lake
  • Lake Eustis
  • Lake Seminole
  • Newnans Lake
  • Blue Cypress Lake
  • Lake June in Winter
  • Lake Parker
  • Lake Iamonia