Request a Visitor Guide close Request a Visitor Guide

Secret Jewels and Must-See Attractions in Lake City, Florida

Lake City—Florida’s Springlands is a charming destination that offers a blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. From a historic downtown district brimming with
unique shops and eateries to the serene landscapes of its parks, trails, and nearby springs, Lake City is a trove of undiscovered treasures waiting to be explored. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a foodie, or a history buff, this guide will take you on a journey through some of the must-see attractions and lesser-known delights that make Lake City–and Columbia County as a whole–unique and captivating places to visit.



Kick off your adventure in Lake City’s historic downtown, where you’ll uncover secret jewels in the form of charming restaurants and cafés. Xapa is the perfect spot for a quick breakfast before you head out to explore the outdoors, offering customer favorites like ricotta toast, quiche, and delicious baked goods.

For lunch, head to Marion Street Bistro, where you’ll find elevated comfort food like shrimp and grits and mouthwatering seafood chowder. Over at The Tavern Brewery and Irish Pub, enjoy craft beers and hearty pub fare, or stop by Maggie’s Latin Place Café for authentic Latin cuisine, including irresistible Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, and savory ropa vieja. Finally, indulge in a sweet finale with a gourmet cupcake from Brittany’s Cupcake Shoppe.


For art enthusiasts, Gateway Art Gallery is a must-visit destination. Discover works by local artists as well as a variety of classes and workshops, including beginner oil painting, stained glass, and basic watercolor.

Stop by to pick up a local souvenir to commemorate your time in Lake City! The gallery also hosts notable events like an annual art show and the triannual Downtown Arts Stroll.

Halpatter Brewing Company


Halpatter Brewing Company, Lake City’s first brewery, offers a diverse selection of craft beers created on-site, each with a unique connection to local history. Aptly named, the business honors Seminole chief Halpatter Tustenuggee, one of the area’s first settlers. Make sure to try their signature brews, like the O’Leno Cream Ale–named for the state park–and Seymour Finn’s Red Irish Ale.


Every second and fourth Saturday, the Markers and Growers Market in Lake City’s downtown Olustee Park features a diverse array of vendors. You’ll find locally grown produce, baked goods, handmade crafts, plants, and more. The friendly vendors are always eager to chat, making it a delightful community event for both visitors and locals.


The Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum, housed in a beautifully preserved Victorianera Italianate residence, offers a captivating glimpse into local culture and legacy. Explore rooms filled with Civil War artifacts, Vinzant family treasures, and historical displays related to this Northern Florida County. Open Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 am-1 pm, it’s a must-visit for history enthusiasts.


Discover Alligator Lake Park, an overlooked in Lake City for outdoor enthusiasts! Spanning over 1,000 acres, this park offers a taste of unspoiled Florida with stunning waterfront views, rich wildlife, and abundant outdoor activities. Enjoy fishing for bass and crappie, explore 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, or get out on the water via canoe or kayak.



Less than 20 minutes from downtown Lake City, the Osceola National Forest offers scenic hiking and horseback riding trails through pine flatwoods and serene swamps. Plus, 28 miles of the iconic Florida Trail–one of only eleven National Scenic Trails in the U.S.–wind right through the heart of this forest.

You can also find excellent fishing and camping at Ocean Pond and endless opportunities for birdwatching throughout Osceola. Try your luck and see if you can spot a red-cockaded woodpecker! Of course, history buffs won’t want to miss the chance to explore Olustee Battlefield.

Falling Creek Falls


Falling Creek Falls is a must-visit spot for nature lovers and families alike. This secret jewel features a stunning 10-foot waterfall cascading over a limestone ledge, surrounded by lush native trees. The short, accessible boardwalk trail makes it easy for visitors of all ages to enjoy the picturesque views and the soothing sound of the water tumbling through the deep ravine below. With picnic areas, restrooms, and a playground, it’s an ideal location for a quick hike with the kids.

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park


Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park offers a fun mix of both cultural and outdoor activities, celebrating the legendary American composer Stephen Foster. Often hailed as “the
Father of American Music,” Foster penned timeless classics like “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” and “Old Folks at Home” (“Swanee River”).

Located on the scenic banks of the Suwannee River, this park features a museum showcasing Foster’s works, a 97-bell carillon, and beautiful gardens. Visitors can enjoy craft demonstrations like quilting, weaving, blacksmithing, and jewelry making, or traditional outdoor activities like hiking, biking, canoeing, and camping. Plus, don’t forget that the park hosts the annual Florida Folk Festival on Memorial Day weekend!

Ichetucknee Springs State Park


Did you really visit Florida’s Springlands if you didn’t experience the iconic Ichetucknee Springs? Located approximately 30 minutes from Lake City, Ichetucknee Springs State Park offers a wealth of water activities, such as swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, and scuba diving in its crystal-clear waters.

This park is home to eight major springs that feed the six-mile Ichetucknee River. However, the Ichetucknee Head Spring, designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1971, and the Blue Hole, known for its 72-degree temperature and cave diving, are likely the most famous.

Remember to follow park rules and regulations when exploring the springs and leave no trace. Our eco-friendly guide offers helpful tips to make the most of your experience!

Explore Lake City’s undiscovered treasures and must-see attractions to fully appreciate the unique charm of Florida’s Springlands. Whether you’re indulging in local cuisine, discovering
historical treasures, or immersing yourself in nature, Lake City offers a captivating blend of experiences that make it an unforgettable destination!