By  Mike Miller  Updated December 26, 2023

Live Oak, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Live Oak is the county seat of Suwannee County.  It has a population of about 7,000 and is about halfway between Jacksonville and Tallahassee on US-90 and I-10.

Like many small North Central Florida towns, Live Oak was founded before the American Civil War. 

Suwannee County Courthouse, Live Oak, FloridaSuwannee County Courthouse, Live Oak, Florida


In the years after the Civil War and towards the end of the 1800's, Live Oak was one of the largest towns in Florida. 

It is near Lake City and shares a lot of the same business and recreational opportunities.

The 1905 census listed Live Oak as the fifth largest city in Florida behind only Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa and Key West.

Live Oak Vintage PostcardLive Oak Vintage Postcard

One of the most interesting buildings in town is the Suwannee County courthouse, built in 1904.

The town prospered in the early twentieth century as the center of a resort area. 

Thousands of visitors came to soak in the sulfur springs at Suwannee Springs and Dowling Park.

Vintage Postcard Suwannee HotelVintage Postcard Suwannee Hotel

The town's prosperity and growth began to falter with the invasion of boll weevils near the end of World War One. 

The insect devastated the area's cotton crops.

The town achieved unwanted infamy in the Jim Crow era of segregation in North Florida in the 1940s and 1950s. 

National attention was focused on Live Oak because of two violent incidents directed toward African-Americans.


Today's Live Oak is a pleasant piece of Old Florida. 

Many of the large live oak trees that gave the town its name still stand proudly throughout the town. 

Live Oak, Wikimedia Commons, photo by EbyabeLive Oak Downtown
Wikimedia Commons, photo by Ebyabe

Live Oak is the largest community in tiny Suwannee County and the only actual incorporated city. 

The town is close to the Suwannee River and is a good place for canoeing, fishing and swimming. 

Kirby House, Wikimedia Commons, photo by EbyabeKirby House
Wikimedia Commons, photo by Ebyabe

The town has many historic buildings, along with a lot of shops and restaurants.

An example of a well preserved historic building is the Kirby House.

Live Oak is the center of a lot of agricultural activity, including timber, straw and watermelons.  

It is also a good place to stage trips to the Suwannee River and numerous freshwater springs.  The city is also near the 14,882 acre Twin Rivers State Forest.

There are several good fishing spots in the many small lakes around the Live Oak area.  The most well stocked is Suwannee Lake, but there is also Workman Lake, Dexter Lake and others.

Every year the Suwannee River Music Festival draws thousands of visitors to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.


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