Local highlights: Leesburg Bikefest, Grand Oaks Resort, Ramshackle Cafe

Small town charm has a party edge in Northwest Lake, where Bikefest and Mardi Gras festivities are balanced by state parks and a historic carriage museum.

Leesburg is, no doubt, a place for lively festivals. Whether it’s the family-friendly Saturday Morning Market or Food Truck–n-Flik night, or the loud thundering roar of motorcycles and live music at the world’s largest three-day motorcycle and music event, Leesburg Bikefest, there is always action in Lake County’s oldest city.

A more quiet side of Leesburg hides a hidden gem filled with dozens of species of native plants, wildflowers and migrating birds. The Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve (PEAR) Park offers several miles of trails, a nature center, and some of the best local birding in Lake County.

The laid back towns of Fruitland Park and Lady Lake are not without their own brand of attractions.

Lake Griffin State Park, located in Fruitland Park, is home to the second largest mammoth live oak in the state, offers outdoor adventures including camping, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and boating to Lake Griffin via the Dead River. The lake is considered one of the best lakes for bass fishing on the Harris Chain of Lakes and has benefitted from recent bass stocking.

Just north of Lady Lake is an area known as horse country, with the crown jewel being The Grand Oaks Resort, where guests enjoy a Southern sporting lifestyle complete with carriage rides, cottage rentals and horse shows.

The Villages, known to some as "Golf Cart City," is the largest retirement community in the world and sprouted from one mobile home development in Lady Lake. Today, this hub of beautiful homes, dining, shopping, recreation centers and perfect golf courses spans across three counties including Lake, and boasts live entertainment 365 days a year at all three of its town squares, including Spanish Springs.

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