Lake Jesup in Central Florida is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and birds.
As a result, the area surrounding the lake is an excellent location for fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography.
In addition, Lake Jesup is one of the largest lakes in Florida, and with close proximity to Orlando, it offers an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and experience raw Floridian wilderness.
Here are the most fun activities near Lake Jesup, let’s dive in!
1. Go on Exciting Boat Tours
One of the best ways to experience Lake Jesup is to go on a boat tour.
If you’re looking for a relaxing way to see the lake, you can take a cruise on a pontoon boat or a sailboat.
These tours allow you to enjoy the scenery and spot some of the wildlife that calls Lake Jesup home.
For a more adventurous experience, you can take an airboat ride.
These boats travel quickly and easily through shallow water, making them ideal for exploring the marshes and waterways of Lake Jesup.
On an airboat ride, you’ll likely see alligators, turtles, and birds.
You may even get a glimpse of some of the lake’s more exotic wildlife, such as the Florida panther.
The Black Hammock offers a variety of boat tours on Lake Jesup, including airboat rides, pontoon boat cruises, and sunset cruises.
2. Go Bird-Watching
Lake Jesup is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
With over 300 species of birds recorded in the area, there’s always something new to see.
From wading birds to songbirds and raptors to waterfowl, you’re sure to find feathered friends at Lake Jesup.
Here are some of the best places to go bird-watching near Lake Jesup:
- Lake Jesup Wilderness Area: You can find many bird species here, including herons, egrets, ibises, pelicans, and hawks.
- Lake Jesup Park: This park has a boardwalk that goes through a marshy area, making it a great place to see wading birds.
- Central Winds Park: This location has a variety of habitats, including a lake, a marsh, and a forest. This makes it a wonderful place to see countless bird species.
3. Hike the Area Around Lake Jesup
If you’re looking for a way to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors, then hiking is a no-brainer option.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of trails to choose from in the area around Lake Jesup.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Lake Jesup Wilderness Area: This 490-acre site has a range of trails to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate. You’ll find everything from pine flatwoods to cypress swamps along your hike, so prepare for some beautiful pictures!
- Lake Jesup Conservation Area: The area has over 10 miles of trails, including a section of the Florida National Scenic Trail. You’ll get great views of the lake and its surrounding wetlands.
- Central Winds Park: This park has a two-mile loop trail that goes through different habitats. Due to its short length, it can be perfect for family hikes or beginner hikers.
4. Improve Your Fishing Skills
Lake Jesup stands out as a crown jewel in Central Florida’s vast tapestry of fishing spots.
The lake’s rich, shallow waters teem with vibrant aquatic life, accentuated by dense vegetation.
It’s not just the beauty of the lake that draws anglers – it’s the challenge and the reward.
Whether you’re seeking the powerful largemouth bass, the elusive black crappie, the vibrant bluegill, or the sturdy catfish, Lake Jesup has it all.
Prime Access Points: There are several access points with fishing piers that serve as gateways to this fishing utopia:
- Central Winds Park: A beautiful location with ample amenities, making it a top choice for family outings.
- Overlook Park: True to its name, it offers stunning panoramic views of the lake, setting the scene for a memorable fishing trip.
- Lake Jesup Conservation Area: A blend of conservation and recreation, this area is for those who truly appreciate the balance of nature and sport.
5. Enjoy a Primitive Camping Experience
For those who truly want to connect with the pristine beauty of this natural wonder, the Lake Jesup Conservation Area offers an unparalleled primitive camping experience.
Camping here isn’t your typical tent and bonfire experience; it’s a true immersion into Florida’s raw wilderness.
Here, only primitive tent camping is allowed, ensuring the environment remains as untouched and authentic as possible.
As you set up camp beneath the vast canopy of stars, you’ll feel the world slip away, replaced by the gentle whispers of the breeze and the distant calls of nocturnal wildlife.
6. Have Fun at the Arcade Monsters
Arcade Monsters is a fun-filled place 3.7 miles from Lake Jesup to let loose and have some fun.
This 80s-inspired arcade bar and restaurant has over 200 arcade games, including classic favorites like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Galaga.
They also have pinball machines, console games, and virtual reality games.
7. Enjoy the Ride at Limo Cycle Florida
Around eight miles from the lake, Limo Cycle Florida is a pedal-powered party bike that can accommodate up to 15 people.
It’s a refreshing way to see the town of Sanford, Florida while getting some exercise.
Here’s how it works:
You and your group hop on the bike and start pedaling.
A driver steers the bike and helps you navigate the streets.
You can bring your own drinks and snacks, and there’s even a cooler on board.
8. Visit the Lukas Nursery and Butterfly Encounter
The Lukas Nursery and Butterfly Encounter is where you can learn about butterflies and their lifecycle.
This family-owned and operated nursery is home to over 1,000 butterflies from all over the world.
In this walk-through aviary, you can see the pretty butterflies feeding, flying, and even laying eggs.
There are also educational exhibits that teach you about the importance of butterflies to the environment.
9. Try Fried Gator at the Black Hammock Restaurant
The Black Hammock Restaurant is a popular spot for Floridians, and for good reason!
This restaurant has been serving delicious food for over 30 years.
The fried gator is a must-try for anyone visiting Florida.
It’s made with alligator meat that has been breaded and fried until golden brown.
The gator meat is surprisingly tender and flavorful, and it goes great with a side of fries or hush puppies.
In addition, the restaurant serves a variety of other dishes, including seafood, steaks, and chicken.
10. Go Horseback at Hidden Palms Ranch
Last but not least, you must pay the Hidden Palms Ranch a visit if you’re into horseback riding.
This family-owned business offers many riding experiences, including:
- Private guided trail rides: You’ll ride through the beautiful scenery of Lake Jesup Conservation Area with a knowledgeable guide.
- Group trail rides: These rides are a great way to meet new people and enjoy the outdoors, riding through the scenic countryside.
- Lessons: If you’re a beginner, Hidden Palms Ranch offers horseback riding lessons, too.