Lakes and Rivers
Tallahassee and its surrounding areas boast a wide array of lakes, springs and rivers that are well worth the visit! Explore clear, cool springs and winding dark rivers by boat, tube, kayak or canoe. Discover scenic trails and the diverse plant and wildlife of Florida’s backyard, or simply relax by a nice fishing spot and leisurely watch the sun go down.
Lake Ella: Located in central Tallahassee just south of Tharpe Street, Lake Ella is a local favorite. Small businesses housed in small cottages dot the entrance of the 12-acre park. You will expect to find a variety of ducks, geese and turtles around the lake and a trail encompassing the park that is perfect for jogging, walking your dog or taking an afternoon stroll.
Lake Ella is also known for its Food Truck Thursdays where every week gourmet food trucks from around the area serve their delicacies and entertainment is provided by a different live band from 6-9 p.m. Make sure to bring a blanket or chair if you would like to sit comfortably. Attendance is free.
Lake Talquin: Located on the Ochlockonee River just west of Tallahassee, Lake Talquin is known for its outstanding freshwater fishing and its wide array of fish species like largemouth bass, speckled perch and catfish. The park is also great for wildlife viewing and bird watching. Birders will likely find bald eagles or osprey soaring above the trees.
Bring a personal canoe or kayak if you would like to explore the 10,000-acre lake. A guided interpretive tour of the park’s nature trails is offered by the park ranger and picnic areas complete with tables and grills are available in the park. Admission fee is $3 per vehicle.
Lake Seminole: Sitting on the border of the southwest corner of Georgia and Florida, Lake Seminole is home to 10 parks along its shore including Three Rivers State Park and Seminole State Park. Visitors can hike through forested hills of pine while watching for white-tailed deer, gray foxes and native birds or enjoy some of the best freshwater fishing in the area. Camping and picnic areas are available with tables and grills.
Wakulla Springs: Only 25 minutes outside of Florida’s capital, Wakulla River is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs and is the perfect place to have a picnic with friends or family and enjoy what the clear, cool water has to offer. The park is best known for its guided glass-bottom boat tours that take you along the river to witness the area’s diverse plant and animal life. Expect to see a manatee or two on your journey.
During the hot summer months, swimming and snorkeling are the most popular activities, while in the cooler months of the year, hiking trails and wildlife viewing are the most enjoyable. Admission fee is $6 per vehicle.
Jackson Blue Spring: Located in Marianna and only about an hour away from the Capitol, Jackson Blue Spring is a great place to cool off during the hot summer months with family and friends. Swimming is the most popular activity at the headwater area due to the spring’s clear water and shallow bowl around the spring vent. Cypress wetlands and mixed forests are the natural backdrop of the park and give visitors the perfect opportunity for wildlife viewing and bird watching. Other activities at the park include snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, paddleboats and volleyball. Park facilities also include picnic pavilions and a playground area. Admission fee is $2 per person.
Madison Blue Spring: One of Florida’s newest state parks, Madison Blue Spring is the perfect spot for an afternoon swim in crystal clear, first magnitude water and is only about an hour drive from Tallahassee. The spring pool is a small limestone basin about 72 feet by 82 feet wide and 24 feet deep, and besides swimming, is also great for snorkeling, scuba-diving, and kayaking/canoeing.
Admission fee is $5 per vehicle.
Ochlockonee River: Located in Sopchoppy, Florida and approximately 56 minutes away from Tallahassee, this gem of a river is a great place for fresh and salt water fishing and spotting diverse wildlife in the area. Ochlockonee River State Park is perfect for a weekend or week-long getaway that offers full-facility campsites and gives visitors a ‘real’ Florida experience. Guests are welcome to rent out canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards for only $20 and a swimming area is provided in the day-use area of the park.