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LAKE COUNTY, FLORIDA FACT SHEET

DESCRIPTION: Lake County lives up to its name with more than 1,000 lakes located within its 1,200-square-mile border. In addition to its well-deserved reputation as a water sports mecca, the county has the charm of a Southern country destination with a perfect blend of nature and outdoor recreation.

LOCATION: Central Highlands. Lake County is geographically located in the center of Florida. As part of the Central Highlands, the county has a relatively high elevation of about 50 feet to 190 feet above sea level. Lake County is one of only a few destinations in Florida with rolling hills to climb, offering challenging golf, hiking and bicycling on Sugarloaf and Buck Hill.

Lake County has its southernmost tip just miles from Walt Disney World, Disney-MGM Studios and Epcot, and 16 miles from Sea World and Universal Studios. Its northwest tip borders the Ocala National Forest. The county is a perfect location from which to take side trips to Orlando attractions, Silver Springs, Wet & Wild, Homasassa Springs, Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens and Daytona Beach.

COUNTRY

TOWNS: Lake County's small towns are made up primarily of generation upon generation of native-born Floridians. Locals work hard to preserve the county's natural resources and beauty. Family values, civic pride and streets lined with old oaks and historic clapboard houses give Lake County a "hometown America" feeling. Towns include: Altoona, Astatula, Astor, Clermont, Eustis, Fruitland Park, Groveland, Howey-In-The-Hills, Lady Lake, Leesburg, Mascotte, Minneola, Montverde, Mount Dora, Paisley, Sorrento, Tavares and Umatilla.

POPULATION: Small and friendly Lake County is home to only 297,052 residents. The largest town is Clermont with a population of 28,742, and the smallest town is Howey-in-the-Hills with a population of 1,098.

CLIMATE: Lake County is ideal for outdoor nature-based vacations due to its year-round mild climate. The average monthly temperature in the winter is 75 degrees Fahrenheit and in the summer, 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The average annual rainfall is 50 inches, occurring primarily in the summer months.

WATERWAYS: Many of the county’s lakes, with connecting canals, are part of the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes. In the 1800s, this waterway from Jacksonville carried steamboats, which were vital to the area before the arrival of the railroad. Boaters can retrace the route of the famous steamers from Lake Eustis through Haines Creek, and from Lake Griffin to the St. Johns River, and on to the Atlantic Ocean.

The scenic Dora Canal connects the six-mile-long Lake Dora with other lakes leading to the St. John’s River and Jacksonville, and allows passage all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. For a scenic one- or two-hour tour, and an earful of colorful facts about the local flora and fauna, contact Heritage Lake Tours, Irish Gator Cruises, Rusty Anchor, Captain Dave’s Sea Venture II or Captain Charlie's Dora Canal Cruises.

CONSERVATION AREAS: Lake Harris -- Previously a farming operation, the restored marsh provides excellent sport fishing. Fishing, hiking, picnicking and bird watching are allowed. Emeralda Marsh -- The marsh is designated as a National Natural Landmark. Seasonal waterfowl hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, bicycling, horseback riding, boating and bird-watching are permitted. The Clermont Chain of Lakes -- The chain is protected by the state for the purpose of recreation and fish and wildlife propagation.

PARKS: Along with the large number of lakes located in Lake County are numerous village greens, neighborhood parks and city squares. All are family oriented and offer a variety of recreational activities from swimming, fishing and picnicking to shuffleboard, croquet and lawn bowling.

CITY PARKS:

Cadwell Park
, Umatilla: picnic area, playground
Donnelly Park, Mount Dora: shuffleboard, tennis courts
Evans Park, Mount Dora: lawn bowling, clubhouse, rinks
Gilbert Park, Mount Dora: picnic area, playground, dock, boat ramp
Herlong Park, Leesburg: fishing, picnic area, boat ramp
Lake David Park, Groveland: swimming, boating, picnic area, boat ramp
Palm Island Park, Mount Dora: nature walk
Singletary Park, Leesburg: fishing, boat ramp
Venetian Gardens, Leesburg: marina, pool, fishing, picnic area, boat ramp
Waterfront Park, Clermont: swimming, picnic area, boat ramp
Wooten Park, Tavares: boat ramp and docks, seaplane launch and docks, kayak rentals, splash park, pavillions, picnic area, playground, fishing pier, eco boat tours, general store, steam train rides, seaplane rides, restaurants and shops within walking distance.

COUNTY PARKS:
For detailed information about County Parks, visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/parks.

Astor Lions Park
, Astor: basketball court, softball field, sand volleyball, tennis court, soccer field, baseball field, picnic area, playground
Ferndale Preserve, Ferndale: equestrian/hiking trails, paved multi-use trail, picnic area
Haynes Creek Preserve, Leesburg: fishing, hiking trail
Lake Idamere Park, Tavares: dog park, fishing pier, canoe/kayak launch, picnic area, playground, hiking trail
Lake Jem Park, Lake Jem: boat ramp, basketball court, picnic area, hiking trail, playground
Lake Mack Park, Lake Mack: basketball court, boat ramp, playground
Marsh Park, Eustis: basketball court, boat ramp, playground, picnic area
McTureous Memorial Park, Altoona: picnic area, playground
Minneola Athletic Complex, Minneola: baseball, little league baseball, soccer, football, sand volleyball, playground
Mount Plymouth Park
, Mount Plymouth: picnic area, playground
North Lake Community Park, Umatilla: baseball, softball, little league baseball, multi-use fields, soccer fields, dog park, tennis courts, basketball courts, playground, picnic pavillions, fitness walk, paved trail, hiking trail.
Paisley Community Park, Paisley: basketball, softball, picnic pavillions, hiking/nature trail, playground
Palatlakaha River Park, Clermont: boat ramp, canoe/kayak launch, fishing, picnic pavillions, playground.
Palatlakaha Environemtnal and Agricultural Reserve (PEAR) Park Gateway, Leesburg: canoe launch, dog park, picnic pavilions, playground, geo-caches, 'life-trail' exercise stations, hiking/nature trails, football/soccer field, softball fields
Palatlakaha Environemtnal and Agricultural Reserve (PEAR) Park Conservation Area, Leesburg: wildlife viewing pavilions, hiking/nature trails, nature center, community garden
Pine Forest Park, DeLand: hiking/nature trails, picnic area, playground, basketball court
Scott Park, Mount Plymouth: picnic area, playground
Sorrento Park, Sorrento: tennis court, basketball court, picnic area
Twin Lakes Park, Leesburg: playgrounds, picnic area, basketball court, hiking/nature trail

STATE PARKS:

Lake Griffin State Park, Fruitland Park: camping, canoes
Lake Louisa State Park, Clermont: picnic area, bathhouse
Rock Springs Run State Reserve, Mt. Plymouth; 9,000 acres with a crystal-clear spring Water Authority Park: Hickory Point, Tavares: boardwalk, picnic area, playground, beach.

SPORTS:

A sports lover's paradise, Lake County hosts myriad annual outdoor sporting events, including professional golf tournaments, water-ski championships, sky diving competitions, bicycle races, equestrian competitions, triathlons and bass fishing tournaments. The county is home to the USA Triathlon headquarters and works in partnership with the Lake County Office of Elevate Lake, the Central Florida Sports Commission and others to attract world-class sports events, such as the Governor's Cup State Fishing Championship, World Disabled Water Ski Championship, Great Floridian Triathlon, POPS Winter Skydiving Meet, Seniors Soaring Championship, Florida Junior Invitational Golf Championship, Men’s and Women's NCAA National Golf Championships and the Bobbie Clampett NCCAA Pro-Am Golf Classic.

Golf: Lake County's rolling hills offer golfers challenging terrain with varying degrees of difficulty. There are 18 semi-private, private and public golf courses, including the famous El Campeon course at the Mission Inn Golf & Tennis Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills.

Bicycling: The Florida Freewheelers Club leads rail trail rides on Paisley Woods trail and South Lake trail.

Waterskiing: Three famous waterski schools are run by skiing professionals: Benzel Ski School in Groveland, Sunset Lakes Ski School in Okahumpka and Swiss Ski School in Clermont.

Glider Rides: Soaring conditions are superior in Lake County and Thorpe Aviation at Mid Florida Airport in Eustis and Seminole-Lake Gliderport in Clermont offer introductory flights and advance instruction.

Parasailing: Quest Air in Groveland offers parasail training via areotow.

Horseback Riding: Visitors feel like cowboys at Fiddler's Green Ranch in Altoona near the Ocala National Forest.

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Visitors weary of long lines and high prices will find respite in Lake County, where a peaceful atmosphere and good price value are the hallmarks of attractions. Visitors sample wine made from grapes grown in Florida, view a collection of antique horse-drawn carriages at a real horse ranch or experience the world-renowned White House in Miniature at the National Presidents Hall of Fame.

Nature Based:

  • Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, Clermont: winery tours, wine tastings, events, retail outlet
  • Uncle Donald's Farm, Lady Lake: educational petting farm
  • Trout Lake Nature Center, Eustis: nature tours
  • Lake County Fairgrounds, Eustis: rodeo and arena
  • Showcase of Citrus, Clermont: free citrus samplings and tastings
  • Florida Citrus Tower, Clermont: sightseeing tower with views from 226 feet encompassing 50 miles

Historical/Cultural:

  • Royellou Museum, Mount Dora: mementos of the town's early days on display in a restored jailhouse
  • The Donnelly House, Mount Dora: example of Steamboat Gothic architecture
  • Florida Carriage Museum, Weirsdale: collection of more than 70 antique horse-drawn carriages at Grand Oaks Resort
  • Renningers Antique Market, Mount Dora: antiques and collectibles from 150 dealers to 500 dealers every weekend
  • National Presidents Hall of Fame, Clermont: White House in Miniature on exhibit
  • Mount Dora Center For The Arts, Mount Dora: works from regional artists
  • Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse, Mount Dora: a community theater

MAJOR EVENTS: Lake County hosts myriad festivals and events throughout the year, from cultural and historical to whimsical and one-of-a-kind. A complete calendar can be obtained by contacting Kathy Pagan at kpagan@lakecountyfl.gov / (352) 429-4755.

LODGING: Located just outside of Orlando, Lake County offers visitors respite from city hustle and bustle. There is a quiet country inn, bed and breakfast or campground in every town, and southern hospitality prevails. Overnight guests can find accommodations to suit their needs. There are 28 recreational vehicle parks; 13 fish camps for the outdoor enthusiasts; and 62 hotels, motels, resorts, inns and bed and breakfasts.

DINING: Most of the county's more than 299 restaurants specialize in home-cooked, hearty meals that are good for the soul after too much "citified" food. Simple, Southern fare is served by locals operating one-of-a-kind restaurants and small, intimate cafes tucked away down alleyways or on quiet street corners. To better appreciate Lake County's ideal climate, casual outdoor patios offer guests the opportunity to relax and enjoy regional specialties. Large, family style diners are perfect for quick meals designed with little ones in mind. In garden-like settings, quaint tearooms and bustling coffeehouses wait to be discovered by visitors walking through town.

SHOPPING: Antique shops have found their niche in Lake County, offering hundreds of vendors under one roof at Renninger’s Antique Center and collectibles and rare finds at dozens of small, locally owned stores throughout the county. Shoppers browse at an unhurried pace along the streets of Mount Dora, where small coffee shops, bookstores, gift shops, candy shops, charming boutiques and arts and crafts stores abound.

ACCESS

Automobile: Travelers coming by car can reach Lake County on S.R. 50, U.S. 27, U.S. 441 and the Florida Turnpike.

Airplane: Orlando International Airport is located approximately 45 miles south of Lake County and is served by American, British Airways, Carnival Airlines, Continental, Delta, Icelandair, Martin Air, Northwest, Transbrasil, TWA, United and USAir.

The Sanford Airport is located 24 miles east of Lake County and is served domestically by Reno Air and internationally from the United Kingdom by Air Tours International, Monarch, Brittania Airways, Leisure International and Caledonian Airways. Locally, Leesburg Municipal Airport offers private and charter flights.

Train: Amtrak, including the Auto Train, serves Central Florida from stations located in nearby Sanford and Winter Park.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Visitors can visit www.lakecountyfl.com for more information.

WELCOME CENTER

The Lake County Welcome Center is located on U.S. Highway 27, just north of the Florida Turnpike (exit 285 northbound or exit 289 southbound) and S.R. 19, between Leesburg and Clermont at 20763 U.S. Highway 27, Groveland, FL 34736.

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