Your Guide to the 8 Best Things to See and Do in Charming Live Oak

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Suwannee County Courthouse, Live Oak, Florida
Suwannee County Courthouse, Live Oak, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia - Ebyabe
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Dating back to 1858, Live Oak, Florida is not only the charming seat of Suwannee County, but it also boasts a vibrant downtown district and an enticing array of unique attractions. From enchanting park spaces to an extraordinary big cat sanctuary, this quaint community offers an array of delights well worth stepping off I-10 to experience. The city is also internationally renowned as the site of several iconic music festivals held annually at the sprawling Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.

1. Mystic Jungle Educational Facility

Address: 13429 S, US-129, Live Oak, FL 32060

Behind an unassuming exterior lies a sanctuary for some of nature’s most majestic creatures. The nonprofit Mystic Jungle Educational Facility provides a forever home for displaced exotic animals, primarily big cats rescued from unfit living conditions. Wander the tranquil grounds and you’ll come face-to-face with regal lions, elusive lynx, curious foxes, and sleek leopards, among other feline residents. The facility also houses ring-tailed lemurs and other unusual species. Visitors can explore during public open hours or reserve a private guided tour for an up-close encounter with these incredible animals.

2. Heritage Park and Gardens

Address: 1004 Helvenston St SE, Live Oak, FL 32064

Step back in time at Heritage Park and Gardens, where the grand mansion stands as a monument to Live Oak’s storied past. Built by local lumberman T.T. Scott, the home was the picture of opulence. Though a fire ravaged the interior in 1954, the resilient Crapps family—who purchased the property years earlier—insisted on faithfully restoring the home using the original framework and adding innovative firewall protections. The lush grounds surrounding the mansion were masterfully designed by renowned landscape architect Richard Foerster and now compose part of this 90-acre municipal park. Visitors can tour the meticulously preserved mansion and amble through the exquisite historical gardens.

3. Suwannee River State Park

Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida
Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – State of Florida

Address: 3631 201st Path, Live Oak, FL 32060

With over 1,800 acres of pristine wilderness hugging the banks of the iconic Suwannee River, this state park promises a true taste of Old Florida’s untamed beauty. Paddle a kayak or canoe along the famous blackwater river, watching for alligators and wading birds. Or explore the verdant uplands via hiking trails winding through sun-dappled forests. Evidence of the region’s rich history is scattered throughout—from ancient earthworks and one of the oldest cemeteries in the state. For a more immersive experience, spend the night in one of the park’s rustic cabin rentals or pitch a tent at the full-facility campground.

4. Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park

Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, Florida
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – LittleT889

Address: 3076 95th Dr, Live Oak, FL 32060

The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park draws music fans from around the world for its epic festivals and events. This 800-acre park thrums with energy year-round thanks to a robust calendar featuring over 25 multi-day celebrations of folk, rock, country, bluegrass, and more. Some of the most renowned gatherings include the Suwannee River Jam, Wanee Music Festival, Purple Hatter’s Ball, and the wildly popular Suwannee Hulaween—which has drawn crowds of over 20,000. Between rocking out on one of the park’s multiple stages, attendees can cool off with a tubing trip down the Suwannee River or go horseback riding on the property’s extensive trail network before retreating to their campsite beneath a canopy of stars.

5. Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park

Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park, Florida
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Walter Pickel

Address: 18532 180th St, Live Oak, FL 32060

Beneath the mirror-like waters of Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park lies an incredible underwater world just waiting to be explored. This remarkable feature—believed to be the 24th longest underwater cave system on Earth—lures divers from around the globe hoping to navigate the 38,000 square feet of mapped passageways. Even those staying on dry land can revel in the park’s ethereal beauty, with opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, wildlife viewing, and photographing the azure pools. A tribute to the late underwater explorer who helped map the springs’ depths, the park protects these fragile ecosystems while sharing their wonders with visitors.

6. International Falconry Academy

Address: 15209 165th Rd, Live Oak, FL 32060

Straight out of the pages of medieval history, the International Falconry Academy offers a rare chance to experience the ancient art of training and flying birds of prey. From soaring eagles and hawks to mischievous owls, these regal raptors take center stage during the academy’s immersive experiences and workshops. Learn the proper handling techniques as a majestic falcon takes flight from your leather-clad arm or simply observe the powerful hunters in action during one of the facility’s educational shows. Whether you’re a lifelong birding enthusiast or a curious novice, the academy delivers an unforgettable encounter with these winged masters of the sky.

7. Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, Florida
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Ebyabe

Address: 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive, White Springs, FL 32096

Though he never set foot in the Sunshine State, Stephen Foster left an indelible mark on Florida with his iconic 1851 song “Old Folks at Home”—affectionately known as the state song. Since 1950, the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center has honored the “Father of American Music” and his timeless contributions to popular culture. Stroll through interactive exhibits and displays chronicling Foster’s life and prolific career, which produced over 200 enduring works like “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” The park also hosts regular live music performances celebrating Florida’s rich folk traditions.

8. Madison Blue Spring State Park

Madison Blue Springs State Park, Lee, Florida
Madison Blue Springs State Park, Lee, Florida | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – S416585

Address: 8300 FL-6, Lee, FL 32059

Located about 25 miles northeast of Live Oak, this state park is worth the drive. With its brilliant azure waters and 82-degree constant temperature, Madison Blue Spring seems almost too surreal to be natural. Yet this geological wonder—producing millions of gallons of crystal clear water per day—remains one of Florida’s most iconic first magnitude springs. Swimmers and snorkelers can paddle past towering bald cypress trees while schools of fish and lazy turtles drift below. More intrepid visitors will want to gear up and explore the 25-foot sinkhole, venturing through the 26,000 feet of mapped underwater cave systems that snake beneath the forest floor. Ashore, sunbathers and picnickers can take in the tranquil scenery along the spring run and Withlacoochee River. Near the state park, the Nestle company collected water from this spring to bottle both Deer Park and Zephyrhills water that is distributed throughout the region.

Conclusion

Whether you crave a refreshing dip in sublime natural springs, an adrenaline-fueled outdoor adventure, or a front-row seat to world-class live music, Live Oak promises a bounty of unforgettable experiences. From relaxing kayak excursions tracing the languid Suwannee River to encounters with majestic big cats and lessons in the centuries-old art of falconry, this unassuming Florida town charms visitors with its wellspring of hidden gems. Embrace the laidback rhythm of Live Oak and discover the quaint delights awaiting you around every corner.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Live Oak before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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Ashley Gary
Greetings, fellow adventurers! I'm Ashley, and I'm delighted to share my journeys and knowledge with you. As a passionate travel writer and devoted adventurer, I'm constantly fueled by the excitement of discovering new destinations and uncharted territories. With a heart full of curiosity and a suitcase packed with dreams, I've wandered through bustling marketplaces, hiked mist-covered mountains, and wandered down cobblestone streets in search of stories waiting to be told. Through my travel chronicles, I hope to not only transport you to the farthest corners of the globe but also inspire you to embrace the thrill of stepping into the unknown. Adventure awaits, and I can't wait to share it with you to help you find your adventure!

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