|Recreation for All|
Whether your style of recreation is to sit back and relax, play team sports, take up a new hobby, enjoy the solitude of a walk in beautiful surroundings or be a spectator, Lake Wales offers endless opportunities for recreation. Couple this with our mild climate, and you have the perfect setting for year-round outdoor enjoyment.
The City of Lake Wales maintains 250 acres of parks and community recreational facilities. The renovated trail on the shores of Lake Wailes is the place to walk, jog, skate or bicycle, with amenities that include distance markers, benches, bike racks and water fountains. Fishing is an activity that can be accomplished from the shore of the lake, from the 120-foot fishing pier or from your boat launched at the public ramp. The pier has benches and a lovely gazebo with seating - a perfect spot to watch the spectacular sunsets.
Fishing, airboat tours, boat rentals and the services of professional guides are available. Fishing is a popular sport in the Lake Wales area with our abundance of lakes, both large and small, fish camps and fishing resorts. Bass are a popular catch and many bass tournaments are held each month at Camp Mack’s River Resort. Other species are regularly caught including crappie, catfish, pike, bream and perch. While out on area lakes, you are likely to see other wildlife such as turtles, otters, alligators and prolific bird life. Local fish camps offer comfortable accommodations and friendly service.
Bok Tower Gardens, nearby Kissimmee State Park, the Ridge Audubon Center & Nature Trail, and Tiger Creek Nature Preserve offer unparalleled views into Central Florida’s unique ecosystem and history. The Ridge area is home to flora and fauna that are found nowhere else in the world.
The Ridge Audubon Center and Nature Trail in Babson Park, six miles south of Lake Wales, has been the hub of local nature and conservation activity for many years. Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will find an abundance of opportunities in the Lake Wales area. Observers report seeing the Florida Scrub Jay, Swallow Tailed Kite, Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Bald Eagles and many others in their natural habitat.
Nature lovers can visit the Tiger Creek Nature Preserve located some 12 miles south of Lake Wales. This 4,400-acre tract contains sand hills and swamps that have changed little since the native people camped there. Ten miles of creek and forest are protected by the nature preserve, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Or you may want to visit Lake Kissimmee State Park east of Lake Wales. The Park consists of more than 5,000 acres and is bordered by Lakes Kissimmee, Tiger and Rosalie. This is natural Florida at its best, with a wealth of wildlife and natural habitat. The park offers 13 miles of hiking trails through pine flat woods and open prairie where you might encounter white-tailed deer or wild turkeys. Activities offered include: hiking, fishing, camping, boating and nature study.
The historic Albert Kirkland gymnasium, one of the first buildings to be completed in the Hardman Cultural and Recreational Complex, is used by many youth and adults for basketball. In addition, the tennis complex has been completely renovated and offers five lighted tennis courts and two racquetball courts. A new soccer complex on Hunt Brothers Road, south of Lake Wales and just east of U.S. Highway 27, was completed in September 2008. The multi-purpose complex includes four, full-sized fields that provide space for league play, tournaments, special workshops and soccer camp.
Community children enjoy the playground equipment at Crystal Park and, "Barney's Dream" provides additional playground facilities at Kiwanis Park on Lake Wailes for children of all abilities including those who are physically challenged.
The Lake Wales YMCA, located on Burns Avenue, offers co-educational facilities to groups and individual members. The "Y" is located on a 10-acre site west of the entrance to Bok Tower Gardens. Many of the YMCA programs are open to the general public and a scholarship program helps ensure that the facilities are available to many children who might otherwise be unable to participate. The "Y" also sponsors daycare, after-school and summer programs and has a large meeting room with food facilities.
Team sports, including football, baseball, soccer, basketball and softball are offered through school, city and community programs. Adults can be either participants or spectators at these games. City programs have included: adult flag football, men's adult basketball, senior softball and adult softball.
Recreational Programs for the younger set include: Little League baseball/softball, Junior Magic Basketball, Steelers or Gator league football, and league soccer, through the Lake Wales Soccer Club. Competitive travel teams for the more serious-minded are available in AAU baseball, softball, basketball, football and soccer. An active Pram Fleet, available only to residents of Lake Wales, began in 1948 and is the second oldest in the world that is still in operation. Teaching sailing skills to children ages 9-15, the Pram Fleet sails every Sunday on Lake Wailes for eight weeks in the spring and eight weeks in the fall.