In Orlando, Florida, there are well over 100 lakes, ranging in size. This sunny city is known for more than just fun theme parks and unique tourist attractions. In downtown, the heart of Orlando sits Lake Eola. This lovely lake is at the center of many local festivals, markets, and events. Like many of the lakes in Orlando though, swimming is not allowed. Follow along to learn more about Lake Eola, including the fun things to do in and near the lake.
Lake Eola Location
Lake Eola is in Orlando, Florida. It’s located in the heart of Downtown Orlando. Lake Eola though is more than just a lake, it’s also a public city park. This small lake is also in the neighborhood, South Eola.
This Central Florida lake is rather small. The lake has a surface area of 23 acres. The lake, which is a sinkhole, is about 11 feet and 5 inches deep. Lake Eola’s maximum depth is 23 feet and 8 inches deep. The shore length is 4,493 feet.
Lake Eola’s history is interesting. This lake is rather young. It formed from a sinkhole on land Jacob Summerlin purchased and donated to the City of Orlando. On the land he purchased, there was a sinkhole with an underground natural aquifer. The sinkhole is filled with stormwater and the natural aquifer’s water. For years, this lovely lake was a swimming hole called Sandy Beach. Lake Eola became a park in 1888.
In the center of the lake sits a fountain, a popular symbol for Orlando. The first fountain was installed in 1912 but has been replaced several times. The most recent repair was in 2009 when lightning struck the fountain causing excessive damage.
Things to do at Lake Eola
Lake Eola is a fun park and lake with lots of things to do. While you can’t swim or fish in the lake, you can view wildlife. Many types of turtles and ducks live in and on the lake. You can find turtles sunbathing on the rocks and ledges surrounding the lake and sometimes on the fountain. Follow along to discover some fun things to do around this lake.
The Swan Boats
One of the most popular activities to enjoy on Lake Eola is the swan boats. These boats are easy to maneuver. For a fee, you can rent a swan boat and drive it around the lake, getting close to wildlife like fish and swans. This is a great activity for a date night. Live swans also live in the park and they aren’t shy, although you shouldn’t try to touch them. Live swans have lived in the park since 1922. There are five species of swans on the lake, whooper swans, black neck swans, Australian black swans, royal mute swans, and trumpeter swans.
Sunday Farmers Market
Not only can you ride a swan boat on the lake, but also enjoy many events and festivals in the park. Sundays are very popular because of the farmer’s market and vendors that pop up. The dates change depending on the season. The farmers market at Lake Eola is a great way to explore the community and buy local treats. You can also walk the 0.9-mile paved trail around the lake while enjoying your new treats. Dogs are welcome in the park and are common.
Within the park and around the lake are large patches of grass, perfect for picnicking. If you want to save money, but also enjoy some time outside in the center of Downtown Orlando, you can pack a picnic. Food is allowed at the park, just remember to clean up after yourself.
Reserve the Lake Eola House
If you want to plan a big event on this downtown Orlando lake, you can also reserve the Lake Eola House for a small fee. You can make a reservation online. The house is perfect for parties, meetings, and weddings. George Marsh built this lovely Mediterranean Revival building in 1924. It’s made of clay tile clocks and green concrete roof tiles, which replaced the original terra cotta barrel tiles.
Fishing Near Lake Eola
Although you can’t fish on the lake, there are plenty of fishing spots in the area. A popular Central Florida fishing spot is Lake Underhill. It’s a popular lake for bass fishing and is home to river otters, channel catfish, and hybrid striped. This lake is part of Lake Underhill Park, which is a public park with a 1.3-mile loop trail.
Another excellent fishing lake near Lake Eola is Lake Ivanhoe. It’s a public lake in Orange County with plenty of largemouth bass to catch. This 125-acre lake is calm, and scenic, and surrounds large houses. There is a park on the lake, perfect for walking and exercising. Large trees provide some shade. Swimming is not allowed in Lake Ivanhoe. It’s also important to be cautious in Orlando lakes as there is always a risk of alligators and water snakes.
Camping near Lake Eola
Camping is not allowed in Lake Eola Park. While you can’t camp in this downtown lake, there are plenty of Central Florida parks and lakes open for camping, including Wekiwa Springs State Park, however, this park is in Apopka, so it’s a short drive from Orlando. You can also camp in Moss Park and Fort Wilderness Recreation Area.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © aphotostory/Shutterstock.com
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