June 29, 2023

What activities can I enjoy in our local lakes?

10.5 min read| Published On: June 29th, 2023|

By Akers Editorial

What activities can I enjoy in our local lakes?

10.5 min read| Published On: June 29th, 2023|

Lake and Sumter Counties overflowing with waterside fun, food, and relaxation.

Story: Roxanne Brown, James Combs  |  Photos: Nicole Hamel

On the lake activities 

Lake County offers plentiful options for water adventures. Whether you want to soar high, or are searching for a peaceful cruise or fast-paced ride, contact one or more of the following places to reserve a spot. Then, get your gear on, grab your camera, and have some fun! 

Boat Tours


Catboat Escapes

Enjoy a two-hour tour of the Clermont Chain of Lakes led and narrated by a tour guide, while captaining your own two-person catamaran.

  • 321.234.2875 
  • catboatescapes.com

Mount Dora

Premier Boat Tours

Take a two-hour tour through the Dora Canal and Harris Chain of Lakes.

  • 352.434.8040
  • doracanaltour.com

Rusty Anchor Mount Dora

Enjoy tours of the Dora Canal, as well as sunset tours. 

  • 352.383.3933 
  • rustyanchormountdora.com

Catboat Adventure Tours

Have fun driving a two-person powered catamaran through Lake Dora and into Lake Eustis. 

  • 352.325.1442  
  • catboattour.com


Dora Queen

Cruise Lake Dora on an 80-foot New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat that offers a full bar, lounge seating, and music. 

  • 352.533.3380 
  • doraqueen.com

Cruisin Tikis 

Various tour options are available on this floating tiki bar on Lake Dora. You can bring any food or beverage you like!

  • 866.845.4386  
  • cruisintikislakedora.com 

Native Tours

Explore the majestic Dora Canal with Captain Ray, who offers sunset tours and private tours. 

  • 352.223.1806 
  • captainraysnativetours.com


Airboat Rides Unlimited

Enjoy a unique airboat ride and view abundant wildlife as you travel the Ocklawaha River into Lake Griffin. 

  • 352.636.4060 
  • justins-jungle.com

Seaplane Rides


Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures

Eager to experience a seaplane ride? Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures offers several seaplane tours, including a 15-minute flight around several area lakes, a Splash-and-Dash (touch-and-go on the water) and aerial views of Mount Dora and Tavares.

A 35-minute ride over the Harris Chain and River Run allows visitors to see Lake Eustis and the wilderness of Lake Griffin and Ocklawaha River. The pilot will do a splash-and-dash on the river while looking for alligators and then head back to Lake Dora and fly low over Lake Harris.

A 30-minute Sunset Celebration flight allows guests to enjoy breathtaking sunset views across vast areas of Lakes Harris and Griffin on the way to the wilderness of the Ocklawaha River and Ocala National Forest. Then, the seaplane turns back across Lakes Yale and Eustis in time to fly straight into the sunset across Lake Dora.

  • 150 E. Ruby St., Tavares 
  • 352.508.1800

Waterfront Dining

Whether you arrive by land, water, or air, Lake County’s lakeside restaurants have whatever floats your hunger boat.


The Crazy Gator
  • 402 N. Bay St. 
  • 352.589.5885 
  • thecrazygator.com 

What sets them apart: This popular sports bar/tavern has televisions galore. There is also indoor and outside patio seating overlooking Lake Eustis and boat rentals for added fun. 

If you can order one entree: Crazy wings, fried or grilled, tossed in your favorite wing sauce, served with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

Spirits: Full bar and longer hours after kitchen closes.

Services: Dine-in, take-out, banquet room available for parties, meetings, and events. Dock access for boat parking and boat rentals available in four- and eight-hour increments.

Lake Eustis Waterfront Grille
  • 350 Lakeshore Dr.
  • 352.602.7446
  • lakeeustiswaterfront.com

What sets them apart: This two-story restaurant offers inside and outside seating downstairs, and windows upstairs for a panoramic, beautiful view of Lake Eustis. 

If you can order one entree: Macadamia Crusted Haddock topped with a key lime beurre blanc sauce, served with cilantro rice and asparagus.

Spirits: Two full bars, one on each floor, featuring signature drinks, wine and beer. Happy Hour: upstairs bar & lounge only, Monday-Thursday 4-6pm

Services: Dine-in, take-out, call-ahead seating, can accommodate large parties and special events. Dock access for boat parking, underground walkway to restaurant from designated parking area across the street. Adjoining boat repair shop.


JB Boondock’s Bar & Grill
  • 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd.
  • 352.324.3600
  • jbboondocks.com 

What sets them apart: More than 20 boat slips on the western shore of Little Lake Harris to accommodate boaters, and there’s enough room for seaplanes to land. Beautiful sunset views.

If you can order one entree: Grandma’s Meatloaf, an old family recipe made with love, served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. 

Spirits: Full bar complete with signature/seasonal cocktails.

Services: Dine-in, pick-up, online ordering, and event space. Vacation apartment and boat slip rentals available.

Entertainment: Live music on select Saturdays and Sundays.


Ski Beach Bar and Grill
  • 21 Dozier Cir.
  • 352.973.0793  
  • skibeachleesburg.com

What sets them apart: Ski Beach is the first true lakeside venue in Leesburg. Not only does it feature gorgeous views of Lake Harris, but Florisiana cuisine — a fusion of Cajun, Creole, low country, barbecue, and Spanish flavors.  

If you can order one entree: Pork Osso Bucco consists of towering pork marinated and slow roasted for a fall-off-the-bone experience, served with smashed potatoes and vegetables.

Spirits: Full bar featuring beer, wine, champagne, mimosas, and non-alcoholic drinks. A ‘buy a drink, keep the glass option’ available. 

Services: Dine-in, curbside pickup, online ordering, no delivery. Dock access on Lake Harris for boat parking.

Entertainment: Live music Fridays and Saturdays starting at 7pm.

  • 10320 CR 44
  • 352.365.2177  
  • gatorbaybar.com 

What sets them apart: Located on beautiful Haynes Creek, hungry boaters can tie up on the boat ramp or in covered boat slips and enjoy lunch or dinner on a relaxing outdoor patio.

If you can order one entree: The Florida Catfish basket. comes with fresh boneless Florida catfish lightly breaded/deep-fried and is served with coleslaw and steak fries.

Services: Dine-in, take-out, indoor and outdoor seating, third-party delivery, catering. Venue can host private events. RV sites and boat slip parking available. 

Spirits: Full bar and daily happy hour specials. 

Entertainment: Live music Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays at select times.


  • 110 S. New Hampshire Ave.
  • 352.742.7676  
  • facebook.com/bustertubbsrestaurant

What sets them apart: Themed nights, $12 price point, different menu each night, food trucks some nights. 

If you can order one entree: Meatballs with fresh marinara or alfredo sauce with cucumber/tomato salad.

Spirits: Full bar featuring fancy signature cocktails

Services: Dine-in, take-out, indoor and outdoor seating. 

Entertainment: Music each night.

Hurricane Dockside Grill
  • 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd.
  • 352.508.5137
  • hurricanedockside.com

What sets them apart: A tiki hut provides outdoor seating and a spectacular view of the Dead River. 

If you can order one entree: Island Grilled Shrimp skewers seasoned in a smoky mesquite rub, then drizzled in garlic parmesan sauce.

Spirits: Two outside bars and one inside bar featuring beer (on tap and bottled), hard seltzers and specialty cocktails.

Services: Curbside pick-up, third party deliveries, meeting/banquet rooms, outdoor seating

Entertainment: Live music Fridays 5-8pm and all day on Saturdays & Sundays.  

Kalua Beach Bar
  • 181 S. Joanna Ave.
  • 352.609.5910  
  • facebook.com/kaluabeachbar

What sets them apart: A laidback bar and restaurant with fun beachside seating along an area of sandy beach behind the restaurant overlooking Lake Dora. Steak night (10-oz. flame-grilled sirloin with two sides for $15.99) on Thursdays 4-9pm.

If you can order one entree: Bacon Black and Blue Burger – a Black Angus patty cooked to order, blackened, with crumbled blue cheese, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and onion.

Services: Dock access for lakeside boat parking along Lake Dora. Can call in orders from boats before docking for quick pick-up. Outside seating only.

Spirits: Full bar, Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4-7pm

Entertainment: Thursdays, 4-9pm during steak night, Saturdays & Sundays 1-4 pm or as announced on Facebook.

Lake Harris Hideaway
  • 11912 Lane Park Rd.
  • 352.343.3585
  • lakeharrishideaway.net

What sets them apart: Family-owned restaurant and bar is accessible by water, land, or air and offers seating on an outside deck that overlooks the beautiful Lake Harris.

If you can order one entree: Hideaway’s Lilly Pads consist of tender sirloin medallions on a piece of garlic bread, topped with Teriyaki Sauce.

Spirits: Full bar inside and a tiki bar in the dining area outside.

Services: Pet friendly outside dining area. Dine-in or pick-up only. No delivery.

Entertainment: Live music Thursdays & Fridays 5-9pm, Saturdays & Sundays 1-5pm.

Puddle Jumpers Lakeside Grill and Bar
  • 111 W. Ruby St.
  • 352.508.5862 
  • puddlejumperslakeside.com

What sets them apart: Great views of sunsets and seaplanes landing on Lake Dora. The two-story restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating and bars on both floors. 

If you can order one entree: The ‘Crash Landing’ comes with two crab cakes, peel-n-eat shrimp & mahi bites.

Spirits: Full bar featuring sangria and other specialty drinks. Happy Hour at the bar all day and 3-7pm at the table Monday-Friday. Wine down Wednesdays feature free taste testing upstairs, plus two-for-one drafts and $1 off drinks.

Services: Private room available for special events and parties. Dine-in and take-out. Accessible by land, sea, and air.

Entertainment: Live music on select Saturdays & Sundays.

Ruby Street Grille
  • 221 E. Ruby St.
  • 352.742.7829 
  • rubystreetgrille.com

What sets them apart: If you like the nightlife, Ruby Street Grille is hopping with live music Wednesday-Sunday evenings with seating and dancing on a large, covered patio outside.

If you can order one entree: Ruby’s Turkey Club comes with oven roasted turkey, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo stacked on toasted south dough bread.

Spirits: Full liquor bar, wine, bottled beer and ice-cold drafts.

Services: Indoor and outdoor seating. Dine-in or pick-up. Venue available to host parties. 

Entertainment: Live music Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 7-11pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 8pm-midnight. 

Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill
  • 118 W. Ruby St.
  • 352.508.5783  
  • facebook.com/tikiwestrawbarandgrill

What sets them apart: Family-owned seafood restaurant features an oyster/raw bar and a diverse menu with a twist — Caribbean twist on Southern classics. 

If you can order one entree: ‘Low Country’ seafood pot features peel-and-eat shrimp, crawfish and andouille sausage.  

Spirits: Full bar with an assortment of beers, wine, and cocktails. 

Services: Dine-in, take-out, indoor and outdoor seating. 

Fish Camp Lake Eustis
  • 901 Lakeshore Dr.
  • 352.742.4400 
  • fishcamponlakeeustis.com

What sets them apart: Daily seafood specials and standard menu items, all made using locally sourced meats and vegetables. Décor consists of paintings by local artists throughout the restaurant. 

If you can order one entree: Steamed Cedar Key middleneck clams over linguini smothered in house-made scampi sauce. 

Spirits: Full liquor bar, featuring margaritas and locally distilled craft beers from throughout Florida. Thirsty Thursdays/Ribeye night drink specials.

Services: Dine-in, pick-up, catering, online and phone reservations accepted. Boat parking available.

Entertainment: Live music Saturdays 1-4pm


The Tiki Bar and Grill
  • 508 S. Main Ave.
  • 352.394.2232  
  • lakeminneolainn.com 

What sets them apart: A beachside vibe featuring outdoor dining at umbrella-covered tables and tiki torches at night. Great sunset facing views of Lake Minneola. 

If you can order one entree: 6 oz. sushi grade tuna sandwich (grilled or blackened), served with sesame peanut sauce, with an order of golden tiki tots.

Spirits: Full bar, featuring beer, wine and mixed drinks.

Services: Dine-in, outside seating only, pick-up. Docks available for boat parking just feet from the restaurant.


Pisces Rising
  • 239 W. 4th Ave.
  • 352.385.2669  
  • piscesrisingdining.com 

What sets them apart: Relax on a sunny patio with a view of Lake Dora as you enjoy delights made with fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers, craft cocktails with infused liquors, or a Sunday brunch menu. The restaurant, which is wrapped around a 1919 Florida cracker bungalow style home, also gives off historic vibes.

If you can order one entree: Shrimp & Grits, made with blackened shrimp, corn grits with pepper jack cheese, andouille, peppers, onion, spinach, and white wine garlic cream sauce.

Spirits: Full bar, featuring margaritas, mojitos and more. Happy hour daily at select times, and all-day happy hour Mondays, plus $15 unlimited mimosas and sangria with Sunday brunch. 

Services: Dine-in, pick-up, catering, private and semi-private areas available for group dining and large party events.  

Entertainment: Live music Thursday 6-9pm, Friday-Saturday 7-10pm, Sunday noon-3pm on outside deck overlooking Lake Dora. (weather permitting)



It doesn’t matter whether you plan to lodge or camp near one of Lake County’s pristine waterways, you can find the perfect retreat with stunning sunrises and sunsets.

La Bella Inn
  • 101 W. Burleigh Blvd., Tavares 
  • 352.343.4666

Key West Resort on Lake Dora
  • 199 W. Ruby St., Tavares
  • 352.508.5344

Lakeside Inn
  • 100 Alexander St., Mount Dora
  • 352.383.4101

Big River Marina and Lodge
  • 1575 W. Hwy. 40, Astor
  • 386.749.4407

Parramore’s Campground
  • 1675 Camp South Moon Rd., Astor
  • 386.749.2721

Powell’s Campground
  • 25716 Powell Dr., Astor
  • 352.759.2010

Lake Louisa State Park
  • 7305 Hwy. 27, Clermont
  • 352.394.3969

Wekiva Falls RV Resort
  • 30700 Wekiva River Rd., Sorrento
  • 352.383.8055

Alexander Springs Recreation Area
  • 495225 CR 445, Altoona
  • 352.669.3522

Clearwater Lake Recreation Area
  • 24511 CR 42, Paisley
  • 352.669.0078

Sumter County Water Activities

Lake County offers plentiful options for water adventures. Whether you want to soar high, or are searching for a peaceful cruise or fast-paced ride, contact one or more of the following places to reserve a spot. Then, get your gear on, grab your camera, and have some fun! 

Row, row, row your boat

If you’re in the mood for canoeing, visit Marsh Bend Outlet Park in Panasoffkee and glide effortlessly in a canoe or kayak as a cool, gentle breeze blows across your face. The small ripple from your paddle hitting crystal-clear water puts you in a relaxed state, and the only noise is the sound of chirping birds echoing from the surrounding forest. Canoes and equipment are available at the Panasoffkee Community Library.

  • Call 352.689.4567 for more information

Get some air time

Thrilling adventures, unmatched views, and fascinating wildlife sightings. That’s what you can expect on a tour with Swamp Fever Airboat Adventures, located on Lake Panasoffkee. Experience an amazing feeling flying across the water with the roar of the huge engine behind you. The company offers three tours: a swamp tour, an airboat tour, and an alligator tour.

  • Call 352.643.0708 for more information

Visit The Villages

Enjoy outdoor fun in America’s largest retirement community, where town squares and homes dominate the landscape. The Villages Recreation and Parks Department offers numerous fun-filled adventures on Lake Sumter, including a guided kayaking experience, a nature pontoon tour, and a guided fishing tour.

Lakeside Dining

If dreaming of good food, yummy drinks, and beautiful views, look no further because Sumter County’s lakeside restaurants offer all that and more.

Lake Panasoffkee

Big Bass Grill Waterfront Resort and Marina
  • 965 CR 439
  • 352.793.8150
  • bigbassgrill.com

What sets them apart: The diverse menu features everything from seafood to salads to steak. Also, you can enjoy a great meal inside or outside on a patio deck.

If you only order one entrée: Can’t go wrong with the grouper dinner. The fish can be ordered blackened, fried, or grilled and is served with homemade tartar sauce.

Spirits: Enjoy a full-service bar with a tiki-style lakefront view.

The Villages

Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille
  • 925 Lake Shore Dr.
  • 352.753.7800
  • lighthousepointbarandgrille.com

What sets them apart: A creative menu combined with gorgeous sunsets.

If you only order one entrée: The “drunkin swordfish” is flame grilled and topped with key lime sauce over rice and vegetables.

Spirits: Specialty cocktails, wines, hand seltzers, bottled beer, and shots.

Entertainment: Live entertainment Sunday 1-4pm; Wednesday 5-9pm, and Friday & Saturday 7-10pm.

R.J. Gator’s Florida Sea Grill and Bar
  • 015 Lake Shore Dr.
  • 352.751.6935
  • rjgatorsthevillagesfl.com

What sets them apart: You can quickly create a customized meal thanks to built-in online ordering.

If you only order one entrée: Go with the Cajun seabass, blackened in a house blend of Cajun spices and served with rice and black beans.

Entertainment: Daily entertainment is offered. Please check the restaurant’s website.

Cody’s Original Roadhouse
  • 1041 Lakeshore Dr.
  • 352.259.8500
  • codysamerican.com

What sets them apart: Tubs of roasted peanuts for cracking and snacking.

If you only order one entrée: The 8-oz. filet mignon, which is lean, tender, and tasty.

Spirits: Happy hour is offered daily and includes draft beer, glasses of wine, and all liquor.


Any of these places are a perfect homebase while you head out to enjoy a plethora of fishing spots, historic landmarks, shopping areas, and spectacular food establishments throughout Sumter County.

Bronson’s Camp Outlaw at Indian Bow
  • 3726 CR 626 North, Bushnell
  • 352.405.1530

Hog Island Campground
  • 9274 CR 635, Bushnell
  • 352.787.4140

Idlewild Lodge and RV Park
  • 4110 NW 42nd Place, Lake Panasoffkee
  • 352.793.7057

Lake Pan RV Village
  • 190 NW 4th Dr., Lake Panasoffkee
  • 352.793.2051

Promise Ranch
  • 7010 CR 478, Center Hill
  • 352.636.0197

River Junction Campground
  • 5827 SW 121st Ave., Webster
  • 352.797.4140

Snooze N Scoot RV Campground
  • 11380 S. Hwy. 301, Webster
  • 352.568.2003

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