11 Best Recreational Lakes near Tallahassee, FL

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Tallahassee is probably the best lake destination in Florida. The selection here is diverse and varied.

For example, Lake Talquin has some of the biggest fish in the state, Lakes Jackson and Iamonia are unique sinkhole lakes, and Silver Lake and Lost Lake are excellent swimming holes located in the national forest.

And the best thing is, you don’t have to drive far as most of the options are just within an hour’s drive.

Check out what Tallahassee has to offer!

Related: 14 Incredible State Parks near Tallahassee, FL

Lakes near Tallahassee:

  1. Lake Talquin
  2. Lake Jackson
  3. Lake Iamonia
  4. Piney Z Lake
  5. Lake Miccosukee
  6. Silver Lake
  7. Lost Lake
  8. Lake Seminole
  9. Lake Hall
  10. Wakulla Springs State Park
  11. Carr Lake
Lakes near Tallahassee Florida Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Lake Talquin

Lake Talquin in Florida
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Talquin
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 16 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Camping

Lake Talquin is an 8,800-acre reservoir west of Tallahassee. It’s a popular fishing destination and a water playground like no other.

The lake has plenty of access options, from fish camps and boat ramps to marinas and even a state park – there is no shortage of recreational areas.

If boating and fishing are on your mind, the best place to start is Ingram’s Marina on the western side, and for family-friendly nature trips, Lake Talquin State Park is best.

Also, the reservoir has day-use parks and the state forest, so there are free/cheap options here, too.

Fishing is the main reason people flock to this gem. The lake is known for black crappie and holds the state record for this species (3lbs 13oz). 

And if you missed the winter crappie season, there are largemouth and striped bass, bluegill, cats, and chain pickerel. For the latter, the lake has the state record, too (5lbs 12oz). 

For those who don’t like to fish, there is still plenty of fun to have. Pleasure boating, kayaking, canoeing, spotting ospreys and bald eagles, or hiking in the nearby forests – are all possible here.

The only drawback to Lake Talquin is the lack of designated swimming areas, but apart from that, it’s the top recreational lake near Tallahassee.

Related: 14 Incredible State Parks near Tallahassee, FL

2. Lake Jackson

lake jackson florida
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Jackson
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 8 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking

Lake Jackson is a 4,000-acre lake just north of Tallahassee. It’s a unique body of water known for a peculiar geological event and largemouth bass fishing.

Every 30 or so years, the sinkhole under the lake opens up and drains the area completely. The last such event occurred in June 2021, attracting scientists and curious crowds. As of August 2022, the lake started to fill up slowly.

The nearest boat landing to the sinkhole is Faulk Drive, and with the rapidly changing climate, chances are you will get to see the sinkhole again.

Before this dramatic event, Lake Jackson was teeming with largemouth bass, which thrived in the dense underwater growth. And as a whole, the area was alive with wild animals, birds, and reptiles.

There are a couple of day-use parks and boat ramps on the lake’s shores, but generally, it’s undeveloped, without campgrounds or marinas.

Depending on when you’re visiting, it can be an interesting hike through the lake’s bed or a water playground.

3. Lake Iamonia

  • Official Page: Lake Iamonia
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 20 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Lake Iamonia is a 5,757-acre lake north of Tallahassee. It’s a vast but largely undeveloped destination with a pristine environment and lilypad fields as far as an eye can see.

There are just two access points on this lake. The nearest one is the Bull Headley Boat Ramp on the southern shore. It has parking and a small dock for launching, but that’s really it for amenities.

The alternative option is the Fish Camp on the northern side which is the only lively spot on the lake with a restaurant, bar, and live music.

Being shallow water (5 feet average) and having a lot of growth, Lake Iamonia isn’t suitable for larger boats. Instead, it’s an excellent place for kayaking and canoeing, especially considering the serenity here. There is plenty of wildlife to photograph, too.

Apart from escapism and kayaking, it’s also a decent fishing spot. The variety of species is wonderful here, anything from black crappie and bluegill to largemouth bass and bowfin. 

Overall, it’s a quiet lake, free from crowds and truly wild. If you’re looking for an escape from a hectic city, it’s a fantastic spot. Yet, with no campgrounds, swimming, or hiking, it’s not the most versatile.

4. Piney Z Lake

Piney Z Lake near Tallahassee Florida
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Piney Z Lake
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 6 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Biking, Hiking

Piney Z Lake is a 200-acre reservoir on the outskirts of Tallahassee. It’s the centerpiece of the hugely-popular Lafayette Heritage Trail Park and one of the busiest fishing spots near the city.

The unique feature of this lake is finger-like structures that lead out into the middle and offer stunning views over the water.

The park has several trails suitable for hiking and biking, a BMX track, a picnic area, a kayak launch, and a fishing dock. 

Kayaking and canoeing are fantastic ways to explore the reservoir, but fishing is probably the most popular activity here.

Piney Z is known for largemouth bass, but there are also bluegill, crappie, carp, cats, and bullheads to aim for. 

Because of its popularity and proximity to the city, there is a lot of pressure on the fishery. But skillful anglers rarely return home empty-handed, and 5-pound largemouth isn’t uncommon, so it’s an interesting challenge.

Related: 14 Incredible State Parks near Tallahassee, FL

5. Lake Miccosukee

Lake Miccosukee in Florida
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Official Page: none
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 21 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Stargazing

Lake Miccosukee is another pristine and undisturbed destination near Tallahassee. Like Lakes Jackson and Iamonia, it’s a shallow prairie lake known for fluctuating water levels and rich wildlife.

The best way to access Lake Miccosukee is Cypress Landing Astronomical Park on the western shore. It’s a simple spot with just a boat ramp and a small fishing dock. If you don’t have a boat or a kayak, there is little you can do here but fish.

Yet, the park is also home to a small observatory run by the Tallahassee Astronomical Society, which organizes monthly stargazing events. It’s the best stargazing spot in Tallahassee with an observation deck and free from light pollution.

With depths between 2 and 5 feet, Lake Miccosukee isn’t suitable for large boats, and during dry spells, the water sinks even further. However, when it’s full, this prairie lake is a well-regarded fishery and a diverse nature spot.

The selection of fish is typical to northern Florida lakes – largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, and bowfin dominate the list. You’re unlikely to catch any lunkers, but the action is generally good.

Perhaps not the most family-friendly option, Lake Miccosukee is more suited for seasoned anglers and experienced paddlers. But as a stargazing lake near Tallahassee, you can’t beat it.

6. Silver Lake

silver lake recreational area apalachicola national forest
Source: flickr/ public domain
  • Official Page: Silver Lake
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 10 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Off-Roading

Silver Lake is a 15-acre spring-fed lake in the Apalachicola National Forest. It’s the second nearest swimming spot to Tallahassee (after Lake Hall), offering excellent amenities and a chance to cool off.

The large sandy beach, shaded picnic spots, and refreshing water turn this recreational area into a bustling hub on weekends. It’s popular with families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Besides swimming, the lake allows kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and fishing. Its modest size prohibits motorized boating, making it a beginner-friendly and serene destination.

However, fishing isn’t ideal here. The lake is too small to produce lunkers or sustain a large population. But if you’re fishing for fun rather than a result, it’s great.

On land, the national forest offers miles of hiking trails and off-roading routes. 

If swimming is what you’re looking for, this spot is great – it’s nearby, it’s developed, and it’s fun.

7. Lost Lake

Lost Lake Trailhead Apalachicola National Forest
Source: flickr/ public domain
  • Official Page: none
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 10 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Horseriding, Off-Roading

Lost Lake is one of the Apalachicola National Forest’s hidden gems. It requires a small hike, but the serenity and scenery here make it worth it.

No more than 15 acres in size, this waterhole is accessed from Lost Lake Recreational Area just off Route 2203. After that, the 1-mile easy hike is all it takes to reach the final destination.

Lost Lake is a spring-fed waterhole with sandy bottom and crystal clear water. The amenities here are primitive – a few picnic tables and a beach.

When it comes to water activities, you can fish, swim, sunbathe, or paddleboard. It’s possible to kayak and canoe here, too, but dragging a kayak won’t be easy and the lake is too small for that.

Several hiking, biking, and horseriding trails sprawl in all directions from this recreational area. There is no shortage of miles, but signage is lacking, so downloaded maps are a must.

It’s a nice lake for cooling off after a long day’s adventure through the forest, but as a stand alone destination it may be underwhelming.

Related: 14 Incredible State Parks near Tallahassee, FL

8. Lake Seminole

Lake Seminole Florida
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Lake Seminole
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 53 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Camping

Lake Seminole is a vast 37,500-acre reservoir that straddles the Georgia-Florida border. Perhaps not the nearest, it’s certainly the largest and most versatile lake near Tallahassee.

The selection of recreational areas here is incredible – from boat ramps and day-use parks to campgrounds and Wildlife Management Areas, it has it all. But the best two sports are probably Three Rivers State Park on the Florida side and Seminole State Park on Georgia’s.  

Despite its size, the average depth here is just 10 feet. And with aggressive underwater growth and stumps, Lake Seminole isn’t the friendliest to boaters. Despite this, some local daredevils manage to wakeboard and water ski here (not recommended).

Still, all the underwater structure provides excellent habitat to the thriving fish population. The lake is well-known for its largemouth bass and produces big fish and plenty of it.

What’s more, Lake Seminole is the record holder for Sunshine Bass (16lbs 5oz) – the white and stripped hybrid, a creation of Florida’s hatcheries.

Apart from fishing, it’s an excellent spot for kayaking and canoeing, and some brave souls find spots to cool off where alligators aren’t watching.

Thanks to its size, this reservoir never feels crowded, and it’s easy to find a spot for every taste and budget, be it a family vacation or a paddling adventure.

9. Lake Hall

  • Official Page: Lake Hall
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 6 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating (no gas), Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding

Lake Hall is a 182-acre lake just north of the city. It’s part of a state park with beautiful gardens and an excellent set of amenities.

Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is known for its manicured premises and blooming flower displays, but it’s not all gardening here. It also offers access to two lakes, miles of multi-use trails, and a designated swimming area – the nearest to Tallahassee.

Fishing, swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding are all great fun at this park. There is also a boat ramp for non-gas vessels, picnic tables, and fishing docks. The only thing that’s lacking is campgrounds, but with Tallahassee just a stone’s throw away, there is no real need for that.

Surprisingly, Lake Hall is a well-rated fishery, too. You can fish from a shore, docks, or boats. The most common catches are black crappie, bluegill, and largemouth bass. The latter comes at decent sizes with reports of 8-pound lunkers, which is incredible for a lake of this size.

Overall, it’s an excellent outdoor destination, and being so close to the city, it’s certainly worth checking out.

10. Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park in Florida
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Wakulla Springs State Park
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 14 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding, Scuba Diving, Snorkeling

Wakulla Springs State Park is a highly-rated and popular park just 20 minutes south of Tallahassee. It’s home to ‘the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs’ offering amazing swimming and snorkeling.

The park is the perfect destination for cooling off during hot weather. At 70F, the water always feels refreshing, and there is no shortage of it. You can swim, snorkel, and even scuba dive at this incredible location. 

Many of the state parks removed their diving platforms, yet Wakulla Springs still has one. If you want to teach young ones how to dive or challenge yourself to this thrilling experience, these springs are an excellent place.

What’s more, the park runs boat tours – the perfect way to get close to the diverse wildlife and see various birds, turtles, alligators, and elusive manatees. Bring your camera!

And on land, there are over 9 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and horse riding. However, there are no campgrounds or cabins, so Wakulla Springs is a day-use destination only.

Related: 14 Incredible State Parks near Tallahassee, FL

11. Carr Lake

Turtles under the sun in Florida
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: none
  • Distance from Tallahassee: 11 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics

Carr Lake is a shallow and highly vegetated lake, not unlike Lakes Jackson and Iamonia nearby. Although just minutes from the city, it’s a pristine wild spot with stunning views and wildlife.

The best way to access the lake is Cedar Hill Landing on the northern tip of the lake. It consists of a paved ramp, a small dock, and a picnic ramada. It’s a nice park to get some views, but without a boat, your recreational options are limited.

On the water, boating, fishing, and paddling are primary activities. The lake is too shallow for larger boats, but kayaks and canoes feel at home here. 

When it comes to fishing, it’s rated average. You can expect the typical selection – largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, and chain pickerel, but the sizes are what you might expect of a lake of this size (modest).

Overall, it’s an excellent spot to wind in nature and catch a break from the hectic city environment, but you do need a boat or a kayak to fully enjoy this gem.

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