Chances are if you’ve driven over the Florida border, you’ve passed through Lake City, Florida. However, when I tell people that’s where I live, I usually get confused looks in return.
When I first moved here two and a half years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!), I didn’t know much about my new home either. With a little exploring I discovered that Lake City is more than just a place you pass through; it’s a destination.
Here’s a little background: Lake City is located in Columbia County, Fla. and is about 45 minutes south of the Georgia border. Lake City was nicknamed “The Gateway City” because it is literally the gateway to Florida, as many major highways pass through. It has plenty of small-town charm, but is also rapidly developing with restaurants and shops.
Here are my top five things to do in Lake City, including a trip to a waterfall, a visit to the best produce shop in town and a stop at a local brewery.
Explore Falling Creek Falls
Falling Creek Falls is definitely one of Lake City’s hidden gems. Located just 10 minutes from the heart of downtown, Falling Creek Falls is a 10-foot waterfall located at the end of a boardwalk that takes you through the woods. Waterfalls are a rare sight in Florida, so I recommend giving this park a visit next time you’re in town. (Address: 953 NW Falling Creek Road)
Get Fresh Fruit From KC’s
As much as I love Publix, the best place in Lake City to get produce is KC’s Produce. Everything is locally grown and the fruits and veggies are always fresh. You can even buy pre-cut fruit cups, boiled peanuts and locally-made honey and dairy products. Plus, since everything is local the prices are cheaper than the grocery store! After you’re done buying some healthy treats, you can even stop by the little wooden cabin they have on property, which is always decorated with seasonal items and would make the perfect background for a quick photoshoot. (Address: 1149 SE Baya Drive)
Visit Alligator Lake
Lake City obviously has a lot of lakes, hence the name! The best lake to visit in Lake City is Alligator Lake. Lake City was once called Alligator Town, named for Seminole Chief Alligator, so it’s no surprise the town’s biggest lake pays tributes to Lake City’s original residents. The lake is perfect for fishing or boating, and there’s plenty of walking trails that get you a great view. There’s also picnic areas and a playground, so you could make a whole afternoon of it. (Address: 420 SE Alligator Glen)
Shop at Fifth Generation Farms
Fifth Generation Farms is by far the cutest grocery store I’ve ever seen. Filled with local and artisanal products, including meats, snacks, and my favorite wine ever, the family-run business is best known for its take-and-bake casseroles and pre-made cakes and meals. From pimento cheese to sweet potato casserole to chocolate cake, it’s all made with love and ready to take home. (Address: 3739 W US Highway 90)
Spend Time Downtown
Downtown Lake City has some great local shops and restaurants. You can shop at the Blue Goose Studio for art and home décor, or Southern Sisters Boutique and Embroidery for clothes and accessories. You can get an authentic New York slice of pizza at Sal’s Italian Deli or have a delicious meal at Marion Street Bistro and Brew House (read my blog post on the restaurant here). Take a walk around Lake DeSoto, and end the trip with a locally-brewed beer at Halpatter Brewing Co. Halpatter not only has an amazing selection of craft beers, but also lawn games, live music and some yummy bar food.
Blue Goose Studio