With a name like Lake, there is little guessing about the most prominent feature of this Central Florida county of more than 1,156 square miles.
While Lake County boasts more than 1,000 freshwater lakes and rivers, locals tend to forget how recreational activities on these waterways, such as boating, fishing, kayaking and sailing, support the economic viability of the community and the local tourism industry of more than $2 million annually. At a recent celebration of Lake County Boating & Waterways Week on April 26, 2006, elected County leaders gathered at Wooton Park, a downtown City of Tavares’ waterfront park that features a series of floating docks and boat ramps, to recognize the importance of Lake County’s pristine waterways.
“Whether it is a family enjoying a canoeing trip on the Wekiva River or a local company providing narrated cruises through the Doral Canal, Lake County is home to many outdoor adventures that not even the most impressive theme park ride could match,” said Lake County Chairman Catherine C. Hanson. “While we can not boast the fastest ride or the tallest coaster, Lake County is home to the greatest thrills — courtesy of Mother Nature.”
Coupled with its sprawling nature preserves, such as the Ocala National Forest, Lake Louisa State Park, Lake Griffin State Park, Rock Springs Run State Reserve and Seminole State Forest, Lake County is a tourist destination that presents a stark difference to its neighboring theme parks..
To promote boating and waterway activities in Lake County, the Department of Tourism and Business Relations recently unveiled a new guide with boating safety tips from the Sheriff’s Office, historical facts about the Dora Canal and St. Johns River and information about the Water Authority’s Hickory Point Recreational Facility, which with its 12 paved boat ramps is a popular staging area for nationally televised angler tournaments, such as the ESPN Bassmaster tour. The 20-page, full-color Lake County Boating & Waterways Guide also includes a comprehensive listing and maps of the 61 boat ramps and 15 marinas located in the County.