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Okeechobee County

Set a course for adventure to the Sunshine State’s ‘Inland Sea’

Known as “Florida’s Inland Sea,” the sprawling Lake Okeechobee is the centerpiece of this fun-loving Florida region. Visitors from all over the world come each year to make the most of its recreational opportunities, while taking some time to enjoy its tranquil surroundings.

Welcome to Florida’s Finest

Encompassing more than 700 square miles is Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in Florida. One of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, Lake Okeechobee is approximately half the size of Rhode Island and serves as a magnet for anglers from across the United States. Indeed, the lake is home to champion-size catches. Charter fishing excursions are ready to take anglers to the prime fishing spots for largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill. Guided nature and Eco tours are also available.

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The lake is home to a variety of plant life and is known as a place to spot bald eagles, brown pelicans and other bird species. If you’re a hunter, local outfitters can help you bag boar, turkey and even alligators.

If catching a big reptile isn’t on your “to-do” list, you may still see them on one of the tour-operated airboats that specialize in finding the variety of wildlife in the region.

For a land tour option, try Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. More than 100 miles of paved and unpaved routes circle the lake with plenty of shaded spots for picnics. There is a sweeping view of Lake Okeechobee from Herbert Hoover Dike, which is found along the trail. Keep a lookout for a wood stork or heron, as well as playful otters. Walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding are all welcome activities. In fact, the welcome mat is rolled out from Lake Okeechobee for visitors to indulge in endless outdoor fun.

If you’d prefer to keep your feet planted on well-groomed grass, get ready to tee off at several nearby golf courses in the area.

The arts play a big role in the town of Okeechobee located on the north side of the lake. Okeechobee’s Main Street is lined with murals presenting the history and popular activities of the Okeechobee region with a Smithsonian Waterway Exhibit stopping at the Historic County Courthouse, December 2016 through January 2017. Events like the Speckled Perch Festival and Car Show keep the town rocking. The town is also home to Quail Creek Plantation and OK Corral, which both offer quail, turkey and pheasant hunting along with clay shooting.

In June, the Okeechobee’s Art & Wine Walk kicks off. Each downtown business will feature an artist showcasing their art work or music, and will offer guests wine tasting, appetizers and promotional offers. In July, Okeechobee celebrates the National Day of the Ameican Cowboy with a cattle drive through town, a livestock market and the Cattlemen’s Ranch Rodeo. Also on tap is a barbecue competition and vendors selling western wear and goods. The event salutes Okeechobee’s heritage as as center for cattle ranching and commerce.

Taking it Easy

To slow things down a bit, take a leisurely visit to Wagon Wheel Horse Farm. Here, you’ll find pony rides for the kids, horse riding lessons for grown-ups and farm animals on-site. If you would like to experience the more exotic animals that make their home in the area, visit Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Here, you can come up close and personal to Florida panthers and other wild cats. Also on hand are peacocks and lemurs. There is nothing like a walk through the butterfly garden at Arnolds to finish your day.

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Northwest of Okeechobee is Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, with spectacular flora and fauna exclusive to the area. Swamp buggy tours allow visitors to see it all up close. The 54,000-acre wildlife preserve is home to the endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow and other rare birds, plants and wildlife. The park also features more than 100 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking and cycling.

Shopping Lake Okeechobee

There is a vast array of shopping from sporting and fishing stores to antiques and family owned specialty shops that cater to Lake Okeechobee visitors and residents alike. Other shopping options include locally owned establishments and familiar bargain retailers. Most restaurants feature Floridian favorites, with menus that serve diverse fare.

Okeechobee County will be celebrating its centennial year in 2017. This small town community would like to invite visitors to participate in some of the unique and family friendly events that will celebrate this historical place. Events are being planned throughout the year so there will be no better time to take a trip to the “real Florida.”

For More Information

Okeechobee County Tourist Development

863-763-3959

www.visitokeechobeecounty.com

 

Florida Department of Tourism

888-735-2872

www.visitflorida.com