Although Leesburg can boast the Harris Chain of Lakes and some of the best boating and fishing in the state, there is a relatively unknown lake just 20 miles north of our Hampton Inn hotel, which has its own charms.
Lake Weir is a unique place in Central Florida. It offers a selection of public white sand beaches (Eaton’s Beach, Hampton’s Beach and Carney Island Beach) where there are designated swimming areas and picnic tables with BBQ grills. It is a playground for those who love water sports. You can put in at several top notch boat ramps and enjoy a day on the lake. There are several restaurants that offer beach side service so you can moor your boat and grab a bite to eat. There are even pontoon boat rentals available for anywhere between 4 hours to a whole week.
In addition to the public facilities, there is also a century-old Yacht Club whose historic building and banquet hall are open to rental for weddings, reunions and galas of all types. There is Ma Barker House where 1930’s gangster Ma Barker and her son were gunned down by the FBI and where Al Capone visited on occasion. Famous events are also hosted at quiet Lake Weir including the Horses in the Sun (HITS) annual triathlon.
In the spirit of a lakeside community, many of the local restaurants have modifications for serving visitors who spend their day on the water. Gator Joe’s Restaurant, established in 1925, is a tropical themed restaurant. Although the bright neon green exterior attracts attention, it is the extensive dock complex with thatched tiki roof that draws the eye. Boaters, people on jet skis and beachgoers all can transition right from the water to an outside dining area where servers provide a menu of delicious, casual options.
Another restaurant, Eaton Beach Sandbar & Grill, established in 1905, is only this summer reopening after major renovation. The Sandbar will serve beachside customers also and include a variety of choices including barbeque, Cajun and Creole dishes, southern dishes and some Mexican dishes also.
If you are staying at our Leesburg hotel for a trip to the Harris Chain of Lakes, we recommend that you take a day trip to Lake Weir and see why this is the best kept secret in Central Florida. Remember, our hotel has boat plug-in so you don’t have to worry about charging up at the last minute.
Photos courtesy of The Nest on Lake Weir
By Becky Schaff