Take all of those and pile some of the country’s best fishing on top of that, and you have Lake Okeechobee. In this Lake Okeechobee Travel Guide, we’re breaking down all the best things to do on and around the lake.
Activities for Families
To kick off this Lake Okeechobee Guide, we’re dishing out some of the best things to do together. These four activities surrounding the 730 square miles around the lake are a tremendous way for the family to get together, enjoy one another’s company, and bond while you travel.
Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail
Since the 1960s, when they developed the loop, hikers first got to view the big lake from a different perspective. The Florida National Scenic Trail open to the public in the 1980s; these hiking trails offer spectacular Instagram moments on top of the 35-foot-tall Herbert Hoover Dike.
The route has developed worldwide popularity as it circles the largest freshwater lake inland in the nation. You can travel any part of it, walk, hike, and gaining popularity by bicycling with the entire family.
This nature reserve is a part of the Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to conducting research here, they open it up for educational and recreational activities for you to enjoy.
The center offers indoor and outdoor things to do with interactive displays that children can engage with, and most of these are designed for kids to learn while they play. The staff conducts regular nature walks so you can step outside and take in everything that we would normally overlook, like the beautiful scenery.
Native Americans fought on this ancestral land during the mid-19th century. In fact, the Battle of Okeechobee was on Christmas Day in the 1830s. Here there were thousands of federal troops stacked up against Native Americans from the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes.
As assumed, the US troops simply possessed more modern weapons and better technology, which allowed them to win the battle. Since then, the natives were never able to regain control of their land.
This activity is located right near the Herbert Hoover Dike in Okeechobee and is amazing for history buffs.
Venture towards the beach a little, and you can visit this vibrant yet tranquil attraction that is sure to be fun for the whole family. Best of all, it’s free. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary to do in-between things, this is an excellent way to pass the time without having to spend a ton.
The gardens feature exotic species, and they have a lot of special events here as well. They’re open from Wednesday through Saturday in Palm Beach County near Port St. Lucie and well worth the trip.
Airboating the Lake
Airboating is an incredibly fun and unique activity for families. Here is an opportunity to view the ecosystem first hand on a flat-bottomed boat powered by a propeller. It’s an exceptional way to get places you’d otherwise not be able to reach by water.
There are many airboating outfitters as well as fishing charters for Okeechobee lake in the county who will take you out on a guided tour and explain the local history as well as some of the wildlife you encounter. If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime opportunity, this is something you don’t want to pass on Florida s largest lake named the big water.
Activities for Kids
Okeechobee County and surrounding areas offer plenty for kids to do. Whether you’re looking to make a day out of it or burn a few hours, these activities are worth a look.
If you find yourself near the coast, take a trip to Jensen Beach, and you’ll stumble upon the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast. This is one of the most popular children’s attractions in the area. It’s incredibly affordable, they have accommodating hours, and the museum is full of engaging and entertaining activities for small children.
Kids here can enjoy everything from live animals to space exploring, to nature exhibits. There are plenty of things for them to watch, touch, and play with.
Is there ever a scenario where kids and sugar don’t go hand-in-hand? The Sugarland Tour is a 24-passenger bus that takes you through the historic town of Belle Glade, Clewiston, and Lake Okeechobee Area. You’ll see how the sugar cane farms prepare, harvest, and process sugar to be made, all at the edge of the lake within the city of Clewiston.
For the kids, they’ll even get a chance to chop their own sugar cane and chew on it. This informative and entertaining activity takes a bit of time, so it’s something you’ll want to reserve a portion of your day for.
If a little excitement is what your family seeks, then you’ll want to check out the rodeo here in Lake Okeechobee County in the City of Okeechobee at the north end of the lake. This rodeo features real-life cowboys and cowgirls on horses and bulls. It’s a popular attraction that brings in tons of people year after year to enjoy the festivities. Your kids are sure to enjoy it.
Tripadvisor calls this “The Number One Attraction in Okeechobee, FL!” We know that a lot of people have concerns over animals in captivity, but we could not be more pleased to see the work they do here. These animals are rescued because they’re unable to survive in the wild. Best of all, they’re still left to roam with natural animals that still live around Okeechobee.
The workers here are fantastic, they care for their animals, and they’re patient. Kids can enjoy opportunities to feed baby animals, walkthrough gardens full of butterflies, and have direct contact with the animals.
Activities for Adults
If you left the kids at home, no need to worry – there’s plenty for the adults and your guests as well, thanks to the United States tourism. Whether you fancy a nice meal and a drink or you’re thinking about pressing your luck at the poker table, Okeechobee has something for you.
When you’re looking to bite off a real taste of Southern charm, The Clewiston Inn is the spot. This restored inn offers great food, a full bar, and authentic accommodations right in the middle of Florida’s “Sugarland.” This town is closest to South Florida and within miles of Lake Okeechobee.
This casino offers 30,000 feet of pure gambling bliss. With over 350 slot machines, table games, roulette, and more – this is as close to Vegas as you’ll get in Florida with a couple of mile drive of the coast. Guests enjoy the fact that there are plenty of other entertainment options as well, such as clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Firearms are a big deal down here, and there are many gun clubs; notables like the OK Corral Gun Club. This club offers various unique activities such as cowboy action shooting, tactical shooting bays, tournaments, and a competition park where you can compete against others at the club.
If you’re looking to impress that special someone in a big way, I would consider this might be a spot to go near the lake.
When you’ve seen enough wildlife, you’ve popped off 600 rounds, and you beat the dealer at Blackjack, come and unwind with a delicious Florida meal at Lightsey’s by the lake. The locals say that this is the place to be, and that’s why it’s been here since 1977.
Enjoy authentic seafood dinners like alligator, catfish, and turtle. They also offer a taste of the sea with an array of shellfish, shrimp, clams, and more. If seafood isn’t your thing, they also have plenty of other menu options including, steaks, chops, salads, and popular desserts such as key lime pie.
Lightsey’s was originally built right on Lake Okeechobee shores, after many hurricanes, it moved in town just miles from the Kissimmee River. Same white-glove service, just a different location.
For the Anglers
We know you came here for fishing. We couldn’t finish this guide for Lake Okeechobee Traveler without discussing some of the top country’s best bass fishing locations.
South Bay – Here’s where the wiregrass is so dense you can barely see the water, but water levels have risen over the year and made this one of the lake’s top spots. Using soft plastics and setups like the neko rig can help you clean up amongst the dense vegetation commonly used in an off-white color to represent the shad population.
The Shoal – On the South West side of the lake, you’ll find the pencil reeds the bass love, and that’s when you know you reached the Shoal. This is one of the most underrated areas on the lake and may feel like it’s 110 mile from anything but it’s a huge bass fishing spot. Locals say pay attention to the seagulls. If they’re diving at the water feeding on shad, it means the largemouth bass are too.
Monkey Box – You want to hit the Monkey Box if the water is high because it offers a lot of newer areas to target. There’s less veg here, but it’s a noteworthy spot during the spawn and a popular attraction for anglers.
The area always impresses us with Florida tourism, and this Lake Okeechobee Travel only furthers our belief that the local tourism would be well worth traveling to for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s local history, thrilling activities, wonderful food, or dynamite fishing – you’ll find it all right here.