Best Place to See Lake Okeechobee (2004)
Searching for that elusive Big O, only to be stopped cold by a 40-foot dike? Or maybe you've tried to take a gander at Lake Okeechobee, the second-largest freshwater lake fully in the United States (the Great Lakes are half in Canada, eh), only to gaze upon marshy islands or grassy shoals instead of the open water of the 730-square-mile inland sea. The earthen levee built to protect us from floodwater makes it impossible to see the lake from the road that circles it, and the southern and western sides provide few vantage points to see it at its best. The eastern shore is far better, and Port Mayaca (about two miles north of the Palm Beach County line on Highway 441) offers the best view of the entire "liquid heart of the Everglades." Drive to the top of the dike and hike down to the water's edge, where you'll certainly see wading birds, alligators, and maybe a manatee or two. If your timing is good, you'll see a variety of small boats pass through the lock system that connects the lake to the St. Lucie Canal and into the ocean. Bring a fishing rod and you'll probably snare a load of bass too.