Okeechobee proudly hails itself as the "Gateway to South Florida." This small city of approximately 5,500 residents is also known as the "Speckled Perch Capital of the World." From Okeechobee, it doesn’t take very long to get to the northern entry point of Southern Florida’s renowned Gold Coast and the beaches of West Palm Beach, and this helps to explain the city’s role as a gateway. In reference to the speckled perch, it is the most famous fish of the city’s name sharing lake – Lake Okeechobee. Every year in March, Okeechobee FL honors this fish with a fun-filled festival that kicks off with a parade around Flagler Park.
Lake Okeechobee Image: Mo Kaiwen (flickr)
To the immediate south of Okeechobee FL is a large lake that shares the city’s name. Lake Okeechobee covers approximately 730 square miles and is the largest freshwater lake in the state. So large is Lake Okeechobee that it could cover almost half of Rhode Island. This isn’t exactly the deepest lake in the country, however. The average depth of the water is only nine feet, with the maximum depth being just 13 feet. Boating is a popular thing to do on Lake Okeechobee, and boat rentals are available for those who are without their own personal watercraft. Fishing is also a popular pursuit among Lake Okeechobee visitors, and local guides can be hired. You don’t have to get out on the water to enjoy your visit to Lake Okeechobee, however. Surrounding the lake is scenic trail that makes up part of the longer Florida Trail, and it largely caters to hikers and bicyclists.
Many Southern Florida visitors hope to go on an airboat ride at some point during their vacation. This makes perfect sense, as Southern Florida is essentially the airboat capital of the country. Airboats are simply ideal for navigating shallow lakes like Lake Okeechobee and for plying the extensive waters of the Florida Everglades. In Okeechobee, it is possible to arrange airboat tours, and there is more to these tours than just zipping around. Wildlife viewing is also part of the experience, with alligators, panthers, and black bears figuring among the resident creatures that you just might spot. Various species of birds are also commonly seen on Lake Okeechobee airboat tours. You might even see an American Bald Eagle.
Fishing & Hunting
Fishing & Hunting
Florida fishing is about as good as fishing gets, and angling enthusiasts can certainly find bliss on an Okeechobee fishing adventure. Lake Okeechobee is the center of the city’s fishing action, and among the species that are commonly caught on this sizeable body of water include speckled perch, largemouth bass, and bluegill. You might also snag a pickeral here and there, not to mention a variety of other species. There really isn’t a bad time to go fishing on Lake Okeechobee, and fishing guides are available for hire. Hunting is also something that Okeechobee FL visitors can look to add to the agenda, and once again, guides are available for hire. Among the animals that are most commonly hunted in the Okeechobee area are alligators and wild boars.
Whether you are treating yourself to an extended Okeechobee visit or are just driving through en route to such other Southern Florida destinations as Fort Lauderdale and Miami and need a place to stay for the night, you should have little trouble finding an agreeable hotel. There are a number of reliable Okeechobee hotels that are of the chain brand variety. Top rated examples include the Hampton Inn Okeechobee, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Okeechobee (pictured), and the Best Western Lake Okeechobee. Travelers who wish to spend a little less might begin their lodging searches with the Budget Inn Okeechobee or the Travelodge Suites Okeechobee. Also offering good value are the Scottish Inn Okeechobee and the Pier II Resort.