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Spotlight: Okeechobee County

Have Fun Exploring South Florida’s Natural Attractions and Diverse History

Centrally located between Florida’s east and west coasts sits Okeechobee County, an area filled with Old Florida beauty and natural wonders. Outdoor activities here include fishing on world-famous Lake Okeechobee, camping on the sweeping grasslands of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park or settling in at one of the beautiful RV camping resorts located throughout the county. There are also lots of trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to enjoy.

Okeechobee County is bordered on the south by Lake Okeechobee and by the Kissimmee River to the west. Surrounded by these historic and pristine waterways, Okeechobee is a serene, rural community with strong historic roots in agriculture, business and recreational water activities. The county’s agriculture includes cattle ranching, dairy, citrus production and farming, which are among its oldest industries and still thriving today. The famous catfishing industry of Lake Okeechobee and the recreational fishing for bass, crappie, catfish and more, continues to put Okeechobee on the map.

VISIT FLORIDA

VISIT FLORIDA

The Land of Big Water

Lake Okeechobee, the second-largest inland lake in the United States, boasts 730 square miles of majestic freshwater. The name, Okeechobee, given by the Seminole Indians, means “plenty big water,” while the word, Kissimmee, is derived from a Calusa Indian word meaning “long water.” The Kissimmee River encompasses more than two-dozen lakes in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes (KCOL), their tributary streams and associated marshes, and the Kissimmee River and floodplain. The basin forms the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades; together they comprise the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades (KOE) system.

The Everglades is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the world’s most unique natural and cultural resources. Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River serve as a direct source of water to the Everglades by way of numerous small tributaries passing out of the lake’s southern end.

Anglers will find ample fishing in Lake Okeechobee, which has an average depth of 9 feet. Try fishing from the bank for largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and catfish, but if you want to get a trophy fish you might need to venture out a little farther onto the water. Bring your own boat or take advantage of one of the local guide services to help you find a place on the lake where the fish are biting.

For an exciting way to see the lake, try an airboat ride. Unlike conventional motorboats, airboats are flat-bottomed boats that reach high speeds as they skim across the water’s surface, giving passengers a thrilling ride. A number of airboat tour companies in Okeechobee County offer ecotours of the area to see Florida wildlife in their natural habitat. Birdwatchers can see various types of waterfowl as well as a growing population of endangered American bald eagles and beautiful blue herons.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

County History and Activities

Nearly a century after its founding, Okeechobee remains the only city in Okeechobee County. The wide, inviting downtown streets are courtesy of the Florida East Coast Railway, which planned the town for bigger things long ago. Historical and recreational points of interest include the Battle of Okeechobee State Park, Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse, Okeechobee City Hall, historical murals throughout downtown, Okeechobee Historical Society Museum & Schoolhouse, Veteran’s Memorial Park, the Fishing Pier at Lock 7, Downtown Flagler Park, Okeechobee County Parks & Recreation Facilities, and the Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center.

A variety of restaurants and quaint eateries highlight the flavor of local specialty foods, which include steak, barbeque, catfish, gator, turtle, swamp cabbage and Seminole Indian traditional pumpkin bread. These items can also be enjoyed at the festivals and events that take place in the community, such as the Okeechobee County Fair, the Taste of Okeechobee and the Speckled Perch Festival. Other events include barbecue contests, art festivals and parades celebrating the rich pioneering spirit of cattle ranching, farming, fishing and the beautiful wildlife of the area.

Okeechobee County invites visitors to come and discover Old Florida’s natural attractions.

For More Information

Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council
863-763-3959
www.visitokeechobeecounty.com
Visit Florida
888-735-2872
www.visitflorida.com