Top Things to Do in the Summer in Highlands County
Located 90 minutes south of Orlando, Highlands County is one of the best-kept secret spots in Florida with more than 100 lakes, affordable golf, untouched wilderness and tons of fun activities. Its largest town, Sebring, was ranked as one of the top 10 most beautiful towns in Florida by The Culture Trip, which praised it for its historic district and swampy landscape. A trip to the county, which also includes Avon Park and Lake Placid in addition to Sebring, means a relaxing vacation away from the bustling crowds of bigger cities and a glimpse of true, authentic Florida. Here are the top things to do in the summer in Highlands County, Florida.
Summer Events and Festivals
20th Annual Caladium Festival
Caladiums—those flowering plants with large green leaves highlighted with reddish-pinkish hues—are the star of the show at the Highland County area’s Annual Caladium Festival (July 29-31), featuring bus tours of the beautiful caladium fields. Lake Placid is the caladium capital of the nation, reminiscent of Holland and its famous tulip fields. During this festival, various vendors set up tents and booths for an art market (many pieces are caladium-themed), where you can browse with live music in the background. Plants will be on display and for sale, and the festival also includes an antique car show. Food and wine vendors will be on-site as well from local restaurants and wineries.
13th Annual Henscratch Farms Grape Stomp
On August 13, the 13th Annual Henscratch Farms Grape Stomp takes place, where you can help make wine the old-fashioned way. Henscratch Farms is a local winery in Lake Placid known for using grapes, blueberries and strawberries in their wines. Does the famous “I Love Lucy” grape stomping episode come to mind? Good, because there will be a Lucy Look-a-Like contest where the audience can select the best dead-ringer of their favorite redhead. Wine stomped that day may be purchased at a special festival discount, with the finished product available in November, complete with your own personal wine label, featuring your stomp photo.
Tour of Sebring Bicycling Event
Skip Tour de France and head over to Highlands County from September 3-5 for the Tour of Sebring Bicycling Event. The county is known for rolling hills and gorgeous scenery, making it an ideal location for nature-loving cyclists and competitions. Cyclists can join a one, two or three-day cycling tour and take advantage of the low traffic, while riding past citrus groves, farmlands, cattle ranches and charming small towns. Kids are welcome.
Maxwell Groves is one of the few genuine country stores left in the state, with just-picked fresh oranges ready for sale. The store is located in a brown cracker-style shack, harkening back to days of Old Florida. Here, you can sample freshly squeezed orange juice and stock up on local goods like honey, jam and orange-flavored ice cream (a fave among kids). Send a little sunshine—ship citrus baskets and gifts to family and friends. Several artisan goods are available, for purchase as souvenirs or gifts, too.
Highlands Hammock State Park
Highlands Hammock State Park, with 9,000 acres, is listed among Florida’s oldest parks, established in 1931. The park is home to a large collection of pine flatwoods, cypress swamp, thousand-year-old oak trees, and old-growth hammocks. An elevated observation deck allows nature lovers to hike over the cypress swamp and look for wildlife such as alligators, turtles, deer and a variety of birds. When not exploring the observation deck, guests can bike along the designated biking trail or go on a tram tour to see more of the park’s natural scenery. Nature enthusiasts can opt to camp overnight. The campsite has its own picnic shelters, showers and other amenities, providing a comfortable camping experience.
Don’t leave Highlands County without going on a 90-minute airboat tour from Airboat Adventures. Head over to Lake Istokpoga, a 28,000-acre park with unspoiled wetlands of tall grass and hydrilla. The airboat tour will lead you through little-seen parts of the county, with glimpses of natural wildlife like alligators, frogs and ducks. However, if you’re looking for a more adventurous way to explore the area, frog gigging trips and gator and duck hunting tours are available.
Sebring Kart Racing
Sebring Kart Racing is one of the best ways to get your adrenaline rush in Highlands County. For a fee, you get 12 minutes of unlimited fun on go-karts that can accelerate up to 40 mph. The racetrack is designed to mimic the famous Sebring Raceway, giving children and adults an idea of what life looks like in the fast lane. Children must meet the height requirement of 40 inches and will be given helmets and other safety equipment before riding.
This is a just a snapshot of all the fun things to do in Highlands County, Florida, during the summer. See more ideas here.