By  Mike Miller  Updated July 15,  2023

Lake City, FL Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Lake City, FL and its nearby neighbors of Live Oak and White Springs are historic towns that go back to the earliest days of modern Florida history. 

Columbia County Courthouse, Lake City, FloridaColumbia County Courthouse, Lake City, Florida

Lake City is south of the intersection of I-10 and I-75.  In the days before the interstate highways, it was still a major crossroads town at the junction of US-90 and US-441. 

The population now is about 13,000 and it is the seat of Columbia County.


Lake City figured prominently in American Civil War history;  the town will give you a taste of Old Florida with its old homes and buildings from that era.

In the days before many white settlers came to the area, Lake City was a Seminole Indian settlement known as Alligator Village.

The first white settlers built a town next door and named it Alligator. 

The city incorporated in 1859 and changed its name to Lake City in recognition of the many local lakes that include Lake DeSoto, Alligator Lake, Watertown Lake and Lake Harper.

The only significant battle in Florida during the Civil War was at Olustee, near Lake City. 

The Yankees lost 1,861 men killed, wounded or missing, and the Confederates lost 946 men killed, wounded or missing. 

Every year a reenactment of the battle is staged in Lake City, and a festival and other celebrations take place in conjunction with the reenactment.

Lake City St James Episcopal ChurchSt James Episcopal Church, Lake City, Florida

One of the earliest buildings in Lake City is the St. James Episcopal Church,  This historic church is at 2423 SW Bascom Norris Drive. 

After the Civil War, Lake City began to develop and became an important railroad town. 

Tracks criss-crossed Lake City from several railroads, including the Florida Railroad Line, Seaboard Air Line, Georgia Southern Line and the Atlantic Coast Line.

The main industries became forest based, including turpentine, pulpwood and lumber.

Lake City Florida UniversityLake City, Florida Agricultural College

Two of the four colleges that eventually became the University of Florida were in Lake City  Florida: Florida Agricultural College and East Florida Seminary. 

Lake City, Birthplace of University of Florida

In 1905, these two colleges along with two other schools moved to Gainesville and became the University of Florida. 

The other two were South Florida Military College in Bartow and St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School.

Modern Lake City has many antique shops and restaurants, and is a good place to visit.


Ichetucknee Springs State Park - 12087 SW US Highway 27. Dive into nature's paradise at this breathtaking state park, where you can tube down crystal-clear springs, hike scenic trails, and marvel at the abundant wildlife, providing a refreshing outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts.

Lake City Columbia County Historical Museum - 157 SE Hernando Avenue. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Lake City and Columbia County at this captivating museum, featuring exhibits, artifacts, and photographs that showcase the area's past, from Native American settlements to the present day.

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park - 5815 Battlefield Trail Road, Sanderson, FL 32087. Step back in time to the Civil War era at this historic park, site of the largest Civil War battle in Florida, offering interpretive displays, reenactments, and trails where you can explore the battlefield and learn about its significance.

Alligator Lake Recreation Area - 420 SE Alligator Glen. Experience the great outdoors at this picturesque recreation area, boasting a scenic lake, nature trails, fishing spots, and picnic areas, providing a serene setting for relaxation, birdwatching, and outdoor activities.

Florida Gateway College Teaching Zoo - 149 SE College Place. Get up close and personal with exotic animals at this teaching zoo, where you can encounter a variety of species, including lemurs, monkeys, reptiles, and more, while learning about wildlife conservation efforts.

Suwannee River State Park - 3631 201st Path, Live Oak, FL 32060. Explore the natural wonders of the Suwannee River at this beautiful state park, offering hiking trails, picnic areas, camping facilities, and the iconic Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Lake City Bowl - 347 SW Highway 247. Have a strikingly good time at this family-friendly bowling alley, offering multiple lanes, arcade games, and a snack bar, providing a fun-filled outing for individuals and groups of all ages.

The Art League of North Florida Gateway Gallery - 168 N Marion Avenue. Immerse yourself in the local arts scene at this community gallery, showcasing a diverse range of artworks by talented regional artists, providing a platform for creativity and cultural appreciation.

Osceola National Forest - Various entry points around Lake City and Olustee. Escape to nature's playground at this vast forested area, offering hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities, where you can reconnect with the great outdoors and enjoy the tranquility of the forest.


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