Unique kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding destinations near Lakeland, FL

Sometimes the best part of being on the water is taking in the scenery. | Photo by @wimmaw

Kayaking, canoeing + paddle boarding are great ways to explore the Lakeland area. These water sports also offer both physical and mental health benefits that extend far beyond a day on the water.

But before we dive in, let’s get a lay of the land (er, water). Check out these unique facts about our region:

  • With 12,132.93 square miles of water, Florida ranks third in the US for water area.
  • The National Forests in Florida have over 600 lakes and rivers.
  • Florida has the second largest freshwater lake wholly contained within the United States

Next, we should talk about paddling safety, so you don’t capsize:

  • Always wear a PFD or personal flotation device.
  • Start small. Water, especially flowing water, can be intimidating. First-timers should opt for a small lake, pond, or city canal. You don’t want to get in over your head.
  • Consider a guided adventure from Get Up and Go Kayaking before heading out on your own.
  • For a fully detailed list of dos + don’ts, check out this paddling safety guide.

And finally, here are a few local options for getting your feet wet:

  • Lake Crago Outdoor Recreation Complex, 525 Lake Crago Dr. | 15-minute drive | This is the City’s only public kayaking, canoeing and paddleboard facility. You can also bring your pup to the nearby Lake Crago Dog Park.
  • Colt Creek State Park, 16000 State Rte 471 | 30-minute drive | That’s right, you don’t have to leave the county limits for this one. The ranger station even offers canoe and kayak rentals.
  • Edward Medard Conservation Park, 6140 Turkey Creek Rd., Plant City | 40-minute drive | Stop by the park’s entry station to rent canoes + kayaks and enjoy this 700-acre reservoir.
  • Lake Kissimmee State Park, 14248 Camp Mack Rd., Lake Wales | 1-hour drive | Tour the 10-mile Buster Island Paddling Trail and keep an eye out for birds, alligators, and other wildlife.
  • Wekiwa Springs State Park, 1800 Wekiwa Cir., Apopka | 1.5-hour drive | Rent a canoe or kayak from the park, or go on a guided tour with Wekiva Outfitters. Either way, you can’t go wrong in these emerald waters.
  • Silver Springs State Park, 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Silver Springs | 2-hour drive | Enjoy one of America’s largest springs via canoe, paddleboard, kayak, or even a glass bottom boat.