15 things to do in Lake City (FL)

Lake City is located in north central Florida, bordering Jacksonville to the east and Tallahassee to the west.

Lake City had a population of just over 12,000 at the last census. Although the area dates back to the 1820s, the city was not formally established until nearly three years later.

Visitors to Lake City will have a variety of recreational options to choose from, including state parks, historic sites, annual festivals, and even a host of arts and cultural attractions.

Here are 15 things to do in and around Lake City, FL.

1. Osceola National Forest

Osceola National Forest

Named after the famous Seminole warrior, Osceola National Forest is spread over more than 200,000 acres of pristine land in north central Florida.

As one of the largest attractions for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes in the area, it offers visitors a variety of activities to choose from, including fishing, hiking, mountain biking and camping.

The forest includes rivers, lakes, swamps, and pine forests, most of which are connected by an extensive network of multipurpose trails.

Campsites I go very fast during peak hours and some seasonal activities like hunting and fishing require special permits, so make sure you have what you need before you go.

2. Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum

Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum

Located in downtown SE Hernando Avenue, the Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum is housed in an 1870s residence and is full of interesting tidbits related to the city’s economy, culture, and development.

This historic home has a unique architectural style typical of the area in the 19th century. In addition to exhibits, it also includes period furniture, art and homewares, giving guests a unique perspective on the lives of the people who lived in the area nearly 150 years ago.

The museum is open from 10am to 1pm several days a week, so be sure to check their schedules before going on special tours.

3. Olustee Festival

Oloust Festival

Lake City’s Olustee Festival celebrates the region’s rich history, dating back to the days before the Civil War.

The festival is an annual event, usually held in February; it is known for its parades and reenactments of Civil War battles.

For history and military buffs, it’s a truly one-of-a-kind spectacle, featuring hundreds of soldiers, officers and cavalry wearing historically accurate uniforms and weapons to create a unique and immersive experience.

Seating areas along the parade route can be difficult to find, so plan to arrive early if possible.

4. Weber Antiques Mall

Webb's Antique Mall

Florida’s weather is near-perfect for most of the year, but during the dog days of summer, heat and humidity often make outdoor activities unpleasant. When this happens, it’s wise to choose some indoor activity options.

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Webb’s Antique Mall is one of Lake City’s most exclusive retail destinations with a large and varied selection of merchandise.

Webb’s is open every day, and for those with the time and patience, there’s always the chance to spot a rare gem or two. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs to remind you of your trip.

5. Gateway Art Gallery

Gateway Art Gallery

With its warm climate and abundant natural beauty, Florida has always been a source of inspiration for artists.

Located on North Marion Street in Lake City, The Gateway Art Gallery is the perfect place to discover a variety of locally created works that you won’t find anywhere else.

Gateway has everything from painting and drawing to stained glass, engraving and photography. In addition to the objects on display, the gallery hosts many special events, classes, and programs throughout the year for art lovers, collectors, and up-and-coming artists from near and far.

6. Olustee Battlefield State Park

Olusti Battlefield State Park

In February 1864, more than 10,000 Union and Confederate troops met on the battlefield of Olusti and started the state’s largest civil war.

The battle included troops from across the country and resulted in thousands of casualties. For those interested in learning about this extraordinary event, there is no better place to visit than Olustee Battlefield State Park.

The park includes a museum and visitor center filled with historical artifacts. The grounds are easy to explore via well-marked trails dotted with plaques that give visitors an interesting look at how the battle went.

7. Halpatter Brewing Company

Harpat Brewing Company

Halpatter Brewing Company is one of the newest additions to the region’s craft beer scene, but in a short period of time it has gained a loyal following.

There’s no better way to end a long day than with a cold beer, and no matter what type of beer you prefer, you’re likely to find something at Halpatter that will appeal to your taste buds.

Located on NE Hernando Avenue in Lake City, they offer a wide selection of beers from stouts to IPAs. They also serve a full range of delicious food and have indoor and outdoor seating areas.

On weekends, there is often live entertainment as well.

8. Lake City Country Club

Lake City Country Club

Featuring a championship-caliber 18-hole course, Lake City Country Club is one of the top destinations for discerning golfers in the area.

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Suitable for players of all ages and skill levels, the par 72 course is known for its idyllic natural setting and well-maintained greens and fairways.

The course features several wooded areas and abundant sand and water hazards, making it challenging. While it’s not the cheapest option in the area, it’s perfect for those looking for a unique experience.

Reserve tee times ahead of time, especially when playing during peak hours.

9. Crocodile Warrior Festival

Crocodile Warrior Festival

For much of the early to mid-19th century, Lake City was officially known as Florida’s Alligator.

It’s an apt name considering the Sunshine State’s abundance of alligators, a popular annual festival celebrating the history and heritage of the area.

Named after a Seminole warrior, the festival includes historical battle reenactments, live entertainment, cultural events, food and crafts.

The event takes place at O’Leno State Park in nearby High Springs and takes place for three days in October. This is a rain or shine show, so bring an umbrella if wet weather is forecast.

10. Falling Creek Falls

Falling Creek Falls

Florida is one of the flattest states in the country, so it’s definitely not known for its waterfalls. But for those who find themselves in Lake City a little to kill time, a trip to Falling Creek Falls will be a great way to spend an afternoon.

The Falls are a short drive from Interstate 10. Although they’re only about 10 feet tall, the deep amber waters cascading down from the limestone patio are particularly scenic and a favorite photo spot for people passing by.

There is a parking lot on the side of the road, and a boardwalk runs from the parking lot to the waterfall, so it is possible to get close without getting wet.

11. Lake Isabella Historic Residence

Lake Isabella Historic Residence

Lake Isabella Historic Residential District in Lake City consists of nearly 150 residences dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One of the largest historic districts in the area, most homes have been restored to near-original conditions and include a variety of architectural styles common over the centuries.

The area is easy to walk and offers visitors many unique photo opportunities. Besides the houses, there are galleries, shops and restaurants nearby, so this is an area that can easily gobble up for hours.

12. Crocodile Lake Recreation Area

Crocodile Lake Recreation Area

While swimming in a recreation area known for its abundance of crocodiles is not a good idea, the Crocodile Lake Recreation Area offers visitors a wide choice of activities to choose from, which are known to keep many guests busy for days.

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Canoeing, hiking and mountain biking are popular pastimes at the 1,000-acre lake and park in Lake City.

Alligator Lake is also a popular fishing spot and is known for its lunker-sized largemouth bass, which often weigh over 10 pounds.

The relaxation area includes plenty of natural and developed sections, and there are plenty of covered seating areas and clean restrooms.

13. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

For those visiting Lake City, Jacksonville is a convenient day trip destination with many family-friendly attractions.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is home to thousands of native and exotic animals spread across acres of scenic land near the mouth of the Trout River.

Popular exhibits include big cats from Africa, South America and Asia, primates and a wide variety of lizards and snakes.

Each of the different areas is connected by well-marked paths with many shaded seating areas along the way.

Previous guests have noticed that they are spending more time on site than they planned, and the cost of admission is a good deal.

14. Riverside Art Market

Jacksonville Riverside Art Market

Jacksonville’s Riverside Art Market is a popular retail destination that is part antique mall, part farmers market, and part flea market.

Vendors sell everything from gourmet cheeses and health and body products to paintings and vintage jewelry, and the market is also known for hosting a variety of live entertainment events that add to its already festive atmosphere.

You’ll find that most products are made locally, so picking up a product or two is a great way to support the local economy.

The market is adjacent to the Fuller Warren Bridge near the North Shore River Walk, making it easy to combine with other attractions.

15. Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park

Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park

Stephen Foster Folk Cultural Center State Park is located along the scenic Suwanee River in White Springs and is known for the annual folk music festival held on site.

In addition to the beautiful setting of the park, the festival has plenty of live music and delicious food and drink options.

The park also hosts Christmas events, including one of the best light displays in the area, and it attracts visitors from all over the area.

Amenities at the park include abundant campgrounds, clean restrooms and many natural areas for those who would rather slip away on their own and enjoy the great outdoors away from the crowds.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Lake City (FL), FL
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