The Lake Placid that most people are familiar with exists in upstate New York's Adirondack region, but there's actually another Lake Placid in Florida. This one, however, was once voted 'America's Most Interesting Town,' by Reader's Digest in 2012, and many would argue that it continues to hold this title. While completely unrelated to its northern Olympic twin, Lake Placid, Florida, is a town worthy of recognition for a number of reasons.
It's located directly in the center of Florida's panhandle but despite being landlocked, it's home to a whopping 29 freshwater lakes. The town itself is also rich in culture, history, vineyards, and festivals, giving it a lively atmosphere that's worth experiencing in person.
Here's why Lake Placid, Florida, continues to be one of America's most interesting towns worth a vacation.
What To Know About 'America's Most Interesting Town,' Lake Placid
The history of Florida's Lake Placid is just as interesting as the town itself. It was founded in 1925 and was first known for its massive citrus operation. However, it's known more so for being the former home of the creator of the Dewey Decimal System, Dr. Melvil Dewey. While Dr. Dewey owned acreage in what was originally known as Lake Sterns, Florida, he also had a hand in founding the Lake Placid Club in upstate New York. It was also he who was responsible for Lake Sterns eventually becoming Florida's very own Lake Placid. Thus, the tale of the two Lake Placids is connected through the creator of the Dewey Decimal System.
While this is Lake Placid, Florida's claim to fame, it's certainly not the only reason why people continue to visit America's most interesting town.
What Is There To Do In Lake Placid, Florida?
At one point, Lake Placid was surrounded by orange groves that spanned for miles and gave the entire town the faint scent of citrus. Today, oranges are still very much part of its legacy but are only one attraction in this small town.
One of the first things that visitors will notice when walking around Lake Placid is its incredible wall murals. The town has a reputation for art, and much of it can be seen for free with a stroll downtown. Whether it's observing the playful mural that decorates the building home to Toby the Clown Foundation Inc., or taking in history in the form of art on the side of retail or town buildings.
- Tip: Stop by the Chamber of Commerce to grab a mural map to make easy work of finding the town's best outdoor art galleries. Some retail stores may also carry these guides!
One of the biggest draws of Lake Placid and the Seabring area in the summer is the Caladium Festival. According to Florida Backroads Travel, Lake Placid produces about 90% of the world's caladium flower bulbs. In order to pay tribute to its historically fertile soil and Caladium fields, the festival is held annually in July. There, visitors can take part in:
- Car and bike show
- Floral Arrangement Competition
- Art & crafts booths
- Local food vendors
- Live entertainment
- Area's Growing Grape Industry & Wine Display
- Florida Friendly Landscape & Ornamental Plants
- Caladium Festival Art Competition
- Caladium field bus tours
For 2022, the festival is scheduled to take place from July 29th to July 31st.
Of course, no trip to Lake Placid, Florida, is complete without a trip to one of its 29 freshwater lakes. Visitors can look forward to a wide array of water recreation, as well, including but not limited to fishing (with appropriate permits), swimming, jet skiing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and more. One of the most popular is Florida's fifth-largest, Lake Istokpoga. It's famous for its wildlife which includes bald eagles and ospreys. It's also known for its great fishing, which draws anglers from all over. Additional lakes known for fishing include Lake Apthorpe, Lake Crews, and Lake Carrie.
No visit would be complete without visiting Placid, the lake that shares the name of the town itself and is known for its incredibly clear water.
For those looking for a bit more leisurely activity, a visit to Lake Placid's best vineyard is a must. Henscratch Farms is known for having the best wine in the region and its vineyard is just as exquisite as its wine offerings. The winery was born in 1999 and is known for musky and honey-sweet muscadine and scuppernong grapes. The vineyard is also home to a quint country store that offers unique souvenirs and gourmet foods, such as local jams, jellies, pickles, local raw honey, and wine-related products.
No matter what one chooses to do in Lake Placid, Florida, visitors can be sure that their trip will be filled with adventure and local flair. From its scenic lakes to its quirky and unique history, there's no shortage of things to fill one's vacation itinerary.