By Gabriele Walkow
Bordered by Ocala National Forest to the north and the hills of Clermont to the south, Lake County is a year-round Central Florida playground for water enthusiasts. Just a 35-minute drive from Orlando and easily accessible via I-75 to the west and I-4 to the east, visitors will discover more than 1,000 idyllic lakes and rivers waiting to be explored and enjoyed from 14 municipalities. These municipalities, each with its own charming small town personality and historic downtown district, offer unique water ecotourism adventures for Allegiant travelers.
“Lake County is known for its picturesque lakefront downtowns and natural resources,” said Robert Chandler, Lake County’s Economic Growth Director. “It’s the perfect destination for kayaking, fishing Florida’s top bass lakes or a thrilling seaplane ride.”
Tavares, the county seat of Lake County, is known as America’s Seaplane City. Visitors can enjoy a memorable Jones Brothers & Co. air and seaplane adventure with an exciting Flightseeing Tour of Lake County. In addition to scheduled tours and itineraries, routes can be customized for specific destinations, and exclusive rides can be arranged right from your dock or beach. Jones Brothers & Co. also offers seaplane tours from Lake Dora. Their popular Lake Dora: Air, Land and Sea Package is an unforgettable way to experience the Harris Chain of Lakes. Enjoy a 1.5 hour boat cruise through the unspoiled Dora Canal with Premier Boat Cruises, disembark at the Tavares Seaplane Base to enjoy a 15 minute seaplane flight, followed by a lunch hour, where you are free to explore Wooton Park. The excursion ends with a trolley tour back to Mount Dora along beautiful Lakeshore Drive.
Mount Dora is also home to Cat Boat Tours, offering a unique way to explore the area on high performance boats. See the sights of the Lake Dora shoreline and then cruise at high speed across Lake Dora to the spectacular Dora Canal, also known as the Dora Jungle Canal, during a fully narrated and guided tour. The experts at Cat Boat Tours will ensure you have a fun-filled adventure.
Canoeists and kayakers seeking paddle paradise can glide down eight different Blueways—state designated trails on the water—thanks to the Lake County Community Blueway Project. Physical and geo-positioned markers guide all travelers through the waterways, which range from easy, for casual or novice users, to wilderness trails. Wilderness Blueways are located in more remote, undeveloped areas and offer paddlers hiking and camping opportunities. Regardless of skill level, those who wander on water will be very happy to take in picturesque views of wading birds, alligators, otters, eagles and much more, as the abundance of wildlife is everywhere. Don’t forget your camera!
Be sure to visit Get Wet Water Sports, perfectly situated on the Harris Chain of Lakes where the cities of Tavares, Leesburg, Eustis and Mount Dora intersect. A one-stop destination for all of your water sports needs, your “Premier Family Recreation Specialists” offer a large and affordable selection of rentals from paddleboards and kayaks to jet skis and fishing boards for a truly personalized day on the water. No lifejacket or beach towel? Not to worry, Get Wet Water Sports stocks it all.
For those looking to get hooked, Lake County is home to seven of the top 11 lakes for bass in Florida. Featuring more than 1,400 named lakes, this is the place to catch a trophy fish! Of course, you may also reel in catfish, crappie, shellcrackers, sunshine bass, bluegill and gar. Choose from several fishing and charter boats, including Bill Van Tassell Fishing Guide Services, Fishing Unlimited, Bass N Gal Guide Service and Gdawgbass Guide Service. Fishing enthusiasts visiting Lake County can visit lakebigbass.com/sun to get information about the county’s top fishing lakes, including size and variety of fish, water depth, a directory of boat ramps, marinas and bait and tackle shops; charter boat rental information, fishing guide services, tournament listings, testimonials from top anglers and competitive fishermen, and a searchable, interactive map to explore fishing-related locales, as well as places to stay, play and dine within Lake County.
For more action on the water, consider world renowned Swiss Waterski Resort (formerly Swiss Ski School) located in Clermont, the largest city in the county. Founded in 1979, Swiss Waterski Resort is comprised of custom-made ski lakes with waterfront Mediterranean villas. Skiers of all levels can share the dock and their experiences on the water. Family members will enjoy their stay in the lakefront villas with pool, jacuzzi and full amenities, which include an 18-hole golf course, private tennis court and lakeside restaurant and bar. Combine pleasure and performance at Swiss Waterski Resort!
For more on this outdoor, ecotourism paradise, go to visitlakefl.com/sun or call 352-742-3918 to begin planning your Lake County adventure, where you can experience Real Florida. Real Close.