This city in Lake County is growing faster than I can write. No kidding, since 2010 the population has more than tripled to nearly 25,000.
Groveland is in a region of pine covered sandhills, with a lot of freshwater all around. The city’s downtown is one of these lakes, and Lake David Park here is a picture-perfect place for public events.
What blew me away about Groveland was the crazy choice of activities available in the area. You can go paragliding, kayaking, paddleboarding off-roading, fly in a glider, or coast along the South Lake Trail visiting lakeside cities like Clermont or Winter Park.
1. Lake David Park
Recently updated when I was in town, Groveland’s community park is on the slope where the downtown area meets Lake David.
All of the city’s big open-air events take place at this space, with the grand-looking amphitheater serving as an anchor.
This structure sits on a large lawn, and if you stroll down to the water’s edge you’ll find picnic tables under the shade sails, with fantastic views over the lake. With a clutch of chain restaurants nearby, this is a fine place for a picnic.
The park continues quite a long way down the lake’s western shore. Follow the trail, and you’ll come to a playground and a splash pad. The latter is open mid-March through September.
Additional amenities include two boat ramps, a basketball court, a skate park, and a volleyball court.
2. Lake Catherine Blueberries
If you’re like me and adore blueberries, there’s a U-Pick farm right here in Groveland. The Central Florida blueberry season lasts from around mid-March through May, but there’s much more happening here throughout the year.
In spring, blueberries are the main attraction. Picking fruit is always a big hit with children full of energy. It’s also a great way to learn about farming and stock-up on healthy food.
At the farm stand there’s also local honey, jams, an assortment of baked goods, and the farm’s homemade blueberry lemonade.
If you’re in the area in fall, Lake Catherine Blueberries opens up to the public on weekends from the end of May to the end of October. In this season there’s live music, a big playground for kids, a spooky Halloween maze, and a scavenger hunt maze.
3. Second Friday Market
One community event that had just been launched when I was in Groveland was this once-monthly farmers’ market.
Happening at the newly renovated Lake David Park from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, the Second Friday Market has a lot going on.
First, of course you’ve got a growing lineup of vendors, selling local produce, specialty foods, artisanal items, and a tempting variety of prepared foods.
Every month, without fail, there’s live music throughout the evening at the amphitheater, as well as a kids’ zone to keep wee ones entertained.
4. Revolution Adventures
The premier off-road attraction in Central Florida is only a few minutes south on SR 33. Revolution Adventures is set in 230 acres of remote, swampy countryside, ready for all kinds of motorized and non-motorized fun.
You can zip through this scenery in a whole roster of different vehicles. My pick for first-timers would be the Mucky Duck, an eight-wheel amphibious vehicle, tackling both muddy trails and water with ease.There are also ATVs, buggies, and Sea Doos for the property’s 65-acre lake.
Away from the trails you can take part in a variety of non-motorized activities, including clay shooting, fishing, target archery, and archery tag.
5. South Lake Trail
Groveland is at the western terminus of a multi-use paved trail, winding through Lake County from Killarney Station in the east.
The South Lake Trail spans 12.5 miles, and is unusual for Florida as it passes over some hilly ground. For me, it’s a great way to leave the car behind and explore more of the area. Within a short ride you can reach the beautiful shores of Lake Minneola, and downtown Clermont.
Keep going all the way east, and you’ll eventually get onto the 22-mile West Orange Trail, serving Winter Garden and its upmarket downtown.
6. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
Planted in the 1980s, there’s a highly-regarded vineyard just north of Groveland. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards features the kind of scenery not often associated with Florida, with rows of vines on rolling hills.
These are mostly native Muscadine varieties, like Welder, Carlos and Noble, but there’s also Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio growing in these fields.
You can visit to tour the property seven days a week. These visits are totally free, and involve a walk through the vineyards, a video presentation, and tasting. I loved the shop at Lakeridge, where you can purchase wine made on this estate, as well as a range of specialty foods.
On a Saturday and Sunday you’ve got Weekends at the Winery, with live music and a diverse Food Court every week.
7. Hiawatha Preserve
Easily reached on the South Lake Trail, this public park sits on the western shore of Lake Minneola. Across 220 acres, this is a delightful space, with moss-draped live oaks and distant vistas over the lake.
Lake Hiawatha Preserve opens at 6:00 am, and I’d urge anyone to get here early to see the sunrise from the pier. Among a host of other amenities there’s a dog park, a playground, restrooms and a picnic pavilion.
Perhaps most important of all is the 18-hole Champions Pointe Disc Golf Course. Opened in 2018, this is one of the top courses in Florida, with DISCatcher Pro (original) Targets and concrete tees.
8. Lake Louisa State Park
For a sense of what the landscape around Groveland would have looked like before development and agriculture, you can visit this 4,500-acre state park.
Dotting this environment are ten lakes, interspersed with almost a dozen different plant communities. These range from hydric hammock, with magnificent cypress trees, to sandhills, historic citrus groves and wet flatwoods.
Lake Louisa State Park is a celebrated camping destination. You can even stay at a primitive camp with paddocks included for horses, so you can make the most of the park’s 16 miles of equestrian trails.
With so much water around, I think it’s well worth spending time on the park’s main lakes, kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding.
9. Paradise Air Sports
As I’ll show you, this slightly elevated corner of Central Florida is an ideal place to take to the skies. One way to do this is on a hang gliding flight.
Based in Groveland, Paradise Air Sports uses a Dragonfly plane to tow its gliders to a certain altitude, before releasing it and letting it soar freely. If you’ve never tried this activity, you can book a tandem flight with an experienced pilot.
These vary from The Smoothie (2,500 feet) to The Mile High Club (5,280 feet), and an in-flight video package is available.
Alternatively you could appreciate the Lake County scenery aboard a Dragonlfy, which is capable of some aerobatics if you have the stomach for it.
Groveland is contiguous with this historic city, which has a bustling downtown and picturesque setting on Lake Minneola. I was amazed to find that you could get from one downtown to the other in five minutes.
Awaiting you here is a lively place, with a surprising amount of dining and shopping downtown, as well as a weekly farmers’ market on Sundays. Clermont also stands out for Waterfront Park.
As well as being a natural gathering place, with tons of events all year, this is also a lovely place to swim in the summer, and has a splash pad for kids.
I’ll visit a couple of other Clermont attractions in this list, none of which are more than a few minutes by car or on the South Lake Trail.
11. Florida Citrus Tower
Towering more than 200 feet over the rolling hills around Clermont, the Florida Citrus Tower is an example of an early tourism attraction.
Newly renovated, this impressive structure was built in the mid-‘50s for people to gaze over what was then miles of citrus groves. The surrounding countryside looks very different today, and the citrus industry has mostly disappeared.
Exhibits detail the tower’s construction and the area’s agricultural history. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride up to the top, and the view, with downtown Orlando on the eastern horizon.
12. Presidents Hall of Fame
Another attraction from yesteryear, the Presidents Hall Of Fame dates to the 60s and sits at the base of the tower.
Ronald Reagan even described this spot as a ‘True national treasure.’ The facility is full of exhibits featuring historic presidential paraphernalia dating all the way back to the founding of the country.
Perhaps the most popular attractions are the lifelike wax and animatronic figures of past presidents. There are also replicas of Mount Rushmore, and an extraordinary White House model with working televisions and chandeliers.
I was also transfixed by the authentic presidential dinnerware, and framed personal correspondence from presidents and first ladies.
13. Seminole-Lake Gliderport
In this part of Central Florida the conditions are ideal for gliding throughout the year. So, I was thrilled to discover that there’s a whole airfield dedicated to this activity a few miles south on SR 33.
Seminole-Lake Gliderport is a truly impressive facility, where experienced aviators can rent gliders or even bring their own. There are even accommodations on site, ranging from single rooms to large apartments.
For newcomers who just want to get a taste of flight in a glider, there’s a choice of rides available. These range from the 20-minute Intro to Soaring to the extended Mile-High Ride, starting at 5,000 feet.
All rides are in Grob 103 or Super Blanik L-23 gliders, and you can opt for GoPro footage as a souvenir.
14. Swiss Fairways
When I played a round at this local course it was in the process of being reduced from 18 holes to 9.
The first thing to point out about Swiss Fairways is the terrain. The course is in the stunning, pine-wooded sandhills typical of the area. This means that you have to deal with some interesting elevation changes.
Sand is also abundant, with dozens of bunkers, while water hazards are almost constant here on the shores of Sumner Lake. In keeping with the open layout, Swiss Fairways has oversized greens, which are quite easy to hit but have a lot of tricky contours.
15. Groveland Fourth of July Celebration
Groveland has come together to mark the nation’s independence for more than 70 years now. I find it heartwarming how many of the traditions in 4th of July celebrations of old have made it to the 21st century.
Totally free for the public, today’s celebration is centered mainly on Lake David Park, and runs from 4 pm to 9:30 pm. On the schedule is a giant car show, the annual Firecracker Pageant with numerous categories, a wide choice of food trucks, and kids’ activities.
The whole evening is capped with a jaw-dropping fireworks display, starting shortly after sunset, around 9:15 pm.