Leesburg is a small city in central Florida, just a short drive from the famous Orlando, almost exactly halfway between the east and west coastlines of the Florida peninsula.
Leesburg is located in Lake County, a city built between beautiful Lake Harris and Lake Griffin, and in the surrounding area, there are countless lakes and waterways.
This is the place for nature lovers; Leesburg has endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Explore lakes, visit nature reserves and preserves, and enjoy Florida’s great open air.
Here are 15 of the best things to do in Leesburg, Florida.
1. Harris Lake
Located in the center of Lake County, Leesburg is so named because the county is home to at least 250 large lakes, not to mention countless other rivers, creeks, and smaller bodies of water, many of which have no names at all.
Harris Lake is one of the many lakes around which the city is built. One of the largest lakes in the region, it is divided into Great Lake Harris and Little Harris Lake. Take a boat, kayak or canoe to the water, or take a leisurely walk on the lake from Leesburg.
2. Lake Griffin
Lake Griffin is located just north of Leesburg, and the outskirts of the city stretch all the way to the lake. This is another vast lake, and the area is known for its marshy swamps and unique ecosystem.
While you can explore most of the lake, the best place to start is the small preserve on the southeast shore—not far from Leesburg—that forms Lake Griffin State Park. Here you’ll find camping spots, boat ramps and wonderful nature trails that allow you to hike into this secluded wilderness area.
You can find a variety of different birds in the trees, but be careful in the swamp; there are plenty of alligators that call Lake Griffin home.
3. Emerald Swamp Reserve
On the northwest shore of Lake Griffin you can find another beautiful reserve, a great place to start from Leesburg. Emerald Swamp Reserve is just a 20-minute drive from the city, but a world away from city life.
The reserve is home to a large number of wildlife. It’s a great spot for bird watching, or just strolling along the short walking trail that takes visitors through the marshes and the edge of Lake Griffin.
4. Venice Garden Park
Venice Garden Park is one of the best things to do in Leesburg and one of the city’s most popular attractions.
The gardens are located on the city’s waterfront overlooking Harris Lake. You’ll find a charming public space, a great place to walk and get in touch with nature.
The Venetian Garden Park gets its name from a series of beautifully designed bridges that cross the park’s many waterways.
These bridges connect the islands and are reminiscent of Venice rather than anywhere in central Florida.
5. Leesburg Heritage Museum
If you’re looking for a change in lakes and waterways, one of the best things to do in Leesburg is to visit the local heritage museum.
It’s a small museum – it’s a small city after all – but it’s the best place to visit if you want to learn more about local history and heritage.
Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Leesburg, the museum houses an exquisite collection of exhibits collected from all over the city. It tells the local story – from the founding of Elisburg in the mid-19th century to the present.
6. Paquette Historic Farmar Tractor Museum
You can find Paquette’s historic Farmall Tractor Museum just outside the city centre.
If you’re interested in local history, this is one of the best places to visit in Leesburg, as this curious museum has a plethora of agricultural-related exhibits; tractors in particular.
The museum aims to preserve historic agricultural equipment while showing visitors the importance of agricultural equipment—not just in Florida, but across the country.
It’s a quirky take on an often overlooked part of history.
7. Burleigh Historic and Natural Park
If you’re interested in local heritage, Bourlay Historic Nature Park is another interesting place in Leesburg.
Located on the edge of Lake Griffin, the natural park is home to an old “biscuit style” home – a common type of frontier dwelling built in Florida in the 19th century.
Plus, the park is full of wildlife and walking trails for you to explore.
8. Howe Building
Overlooking the tranquil waters of Harris Lake, you’ll find the historic Howe Mansion, which offers guided tours of heritage rooms and gardens.
The house dates back to the 1920s and was built by the Howie family — a wealthy family that purchased most of the land in Lake County.
The mansion is an unusual piece of architecture, used year-round as a movie set or a wedding venue.
9. Flat Island
Flat Island is a lovely conservation area off the coast of Leesburg within Denham Lake.
Close to downtown; you can even walk here from downtown Leesburg.
Offering a quiet haven away from the city, you can find some short nature trails that meander through the reserve, as well as a variety of birds and other wildlife.
10. Lake Apopka
South of Howie Building is one of the most beautiful lakes in Lakes County.
Lake Apopka is one of the largest lakes in Florida, and the north shore is protected as a nature preserve.
Here, you can explore hiking trails, kayaks and water canoes, and look for alligators in the swamp.
11. Ocala National Forest
Just north of Leesburg, Ocala National Forest is one of Florida’s most pristine wilderness locations. Hundreds of thousands of acres of forest are protected within this reserve, and Ocala is the southernmost forest area in the United States.
There are hiking trails, hundreds of lakes, rivers and marshy areas, and a plethora of unique species including bears.
You can visit crumbling pioneer homes in the forest, learn about Florida history, camp in the wild, and even enjoy the high-quality natural springs that flow into the crystal-clear swimming area, where you can also snorkel.
An adventure park for outdoor lovers, one of the best places to visit while in Leesburg.
12. Crystal River
If crystal clear water is your thing, spend the day at Crystal River on the west coast.
Just an hour’s drive from Leesburg, Crystal River is a small city built around beautiful, pure mineral springs.
The rivers are crystal clear, and the oceans in the Gulf of Mexico are warm and equally stunning.
You can even find manatees living in the water; if you go snorkeling, you’re likely to get up close and personal with these friendly animals.
13. Daytona Beach
If you want to get off the lake and see the shoreline, you can find Daytona Beach an hour and a half away.
It’s a city known for two things – beaches and racing.
This is the home of NASCAR; you can visit the International Speedway to learn more and even race.
With some of the most spectacular sand in Florida, Daytona Beach is the perfect place to enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
14. Tampa Bay
The city of Tampa Bay is a one-and-a-half hour drive to the west coast of the Florida peninsula.
This is a great place to explore the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and its warm waters.
Tampa Bay is home to theme parks, shopping, restaurants, and museums, but most importantly, it’s a great place to visit if you want to enjoy the great outdoors.
You’ll find beautiful beaches, spectacular coastlines and crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Orlando is one of the most famous cities in Florida, and if you live in Leesburg, it’s just a short day trip away.
Orlando is home to famous amusement parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios to name a few. You can have fun-filled days exploring theme parks and getting adrenaline rushing on roller coasters.
Downtown Orlando itself is also a great place to visit, although it’s often overlooked by theme parks.
You can dine in excellent restaurants, have a drink in the city center, or soak up the culture in the museums and art galleries.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Leesburg (FL), FL
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