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Picture opening your curtains to the golden hues of a Florida sunrise, the Spanish moss on ancient oaks swaying in the morning breeze, and a symphony of birds welcoming you to a new day. This is Columbia County, Florida. Nestled in the heart of the Sunshine State, it’s home to several cities that each offer its own unique charm and a lifestyle that dreams are made of. Here’s our roundup of the top 10 cities in Columbia County, FL that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.

Best Cities In and Near Columbia County, FL

1. Lake City

Lake City is the heart of Columbia County, and true to its name, it’s a central hub of natural beauty with its sparkling waterways. Lake City encapsulates the good life with its friendly community and a historic downtown that’s like stepping back in time to the Old South.

The Lake City Essentials:

  • Suwannee River Water Management District: Kayak down the pristine Suwannee River. It’s not just any paddle, it’s a history lesson, and a wilderness adventure wrapped into one.
  • Florida Gateway College: A community-focused institution that’s a hit with lifelong learners. Their art shows, concerts, and theatrical performances are an absolute treat for culture buffs.
  • Lake City-Columbia County Historical Museum: Step into the past and explore Lake City’s rich heritage. From the indigenous Timucuan tribes to the town’s role in the Civil War, history buffs will be fascinated.

Who’s ‘Lake City’ Life For?

Lake City is ideal for nature lovers and historians. The city embraces the outdoors and values its historical roots, offering a peaceful haven for retirees and families alike.

2. Fort White

Fort White is a small community with a punch well above its weight, certain to delight visitors with its natural attractions.

The Fort White Essentials:

  • Ichetucknee Springs State Park: Drift snorkeling down the spring-fed Ichetucknee River is a bucket-list-worthy experience – it’s like floating through an aquarium sans critters other than the ubiquitous turtle.
  • O’leno State Park: Kayak Santa Fe River’s dark tannic waters, and catch sights of deer, raccoons, and even alligators in the surrounding cypress swamps from the comfort of your boat.
  • Friday FishFry: Head to historic downtown Fort White for a good old-fashioned Fried ‘Catfish Friday.’ The best of Southern hospitality and cuisine is served up hot and crispy.

Who’s ‘Fort White’ Life For?

Fort White is all about the great outdoors. It’s the perfect place for singles and families looking for an active and adventurous lifestyle.

3. Five Points

Despite its modest size, Five Points in Columbia County is a vibrant and culturally diverse community with a lot to offer.

The Five Points Essentials:

  • Osceola National Forest: A playground for outdoor enthusiasts, where hunting, fishing, and miles of peaceful paths to get completely lost in nature await.
  • Five Points Conservation Area: A local treasure for hikers and birdwatchers. The varied landscapes make for a diverse range of bird sightings.
  • Suwannee Valley Campground: A family-friendly spot that provides both RV and tent camping. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the serenity and starry nights.

Who’s ‘Five Points’ Life For?

Five Points is a haven for anyone who finds solace in nature and thrives in a tight-knit community setting.

4. Lulu

Lulu is a community for nature buffs, history aficionados, and those seeking a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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The Lulu Essentials:

  • O’Leno Hitching Post: A slice of the old Florida charm right off the main parkway, this spot serves up some of the best local barbecue you’ll find this side of the Suwannee River.
  • Lulu Adventist Academy: An educational gem where the sound of music and learning fills the air. A prime academic destination for those who cherish distinctive learning experiences for their kids.
  • Hippodrome State Theatre: While not in Lulu, this local theater offers quality performances that are worth the scenic drive for a date night or family outing.

Who’s ‘Lulu’ Life For?

Lulu’s tranquil lifestyle and dedication to quality education make it a perfect choice for families and retirees.

5. Watertown

Watertown is a small historical and charming community that’s rich in cultural heritage and community-minded people.

The Watertown Essentials:

  • St. Mary’s Episcopal Church: The heart of the town and a fascinating visit for architecture enthusiasts. Witness the simplicity of a bygone era in the breathtakingly harmonious structure.
  • Ellisville Real Florida Café: Tuck into dishes made from recipes that have been passed down through generations in this Southern local diner.
  • Sand Lake Baptist Church: A pivotal point in Watertown’s history, this church has a rich heritage and still serves as a beacon of community values and warmth.

Who’s ‘Watertown’ Life For?

Watertown gives a heartfelt welcome to all but is especially ideal for those who appreciate the quiet wisdom and warmth of a close-knit community.

6. Five Points South

Not to be confused with its sister city, Five Points South in Columbia County is a slice of Southern comfort and hospitality.

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The Five Points South Essentials:

  • Ellisville Plaza: This family-owned grocery store is more than meets the eye. It’s the heartbeat of the community, doubling as a social hub where locals meet and chat.
  • Lake City Mall: For shopping enthusiasts, the state-of-the-art mall offers a modern shopping experience with a wide selection of stores and a food court that’s a hit with the teenagers.
  • Five Points South Community Center: The center is the epicenter of community events and classes. From dance to yoga, it’s the place where friendships are formed, and the community spirit is alive and well.

Who’s ‘Five Points South’ Life For?

This bustling small town is ideal for those who love a bit of action and convenience without venturing too far away from the comfort of a community vibe.

7. Manatee Springs

Manatee Springs may be small, but it stands tall when it comes to breathtaking views and a less hectic pace of life.

The Manatee Springs Essentials:

  • Liberty Baptist Church: A historical and architectural gem where the beautiful simplicity of the church’s design is matched only by the pure warmth of the community it serves.
  • Manatee Springs State Park: A perfect spot for a Sunday afternoon picnic. It offers scenic views and if you’re lucky, you might spot a manatee or two.
  • Manatee Springs Baptist Church: Another charming historical site that speaks volumes about the town’s heritage and devotion to community values.

Who’s ‘Manatee Springs’ Life For?

Manatee Springs is perfect for retirees and those looking to truly escape the hustle of everyday life to savor a slower and more scenic pace.

8. Columbia Manor

Columbia Manor is the kind of place that gives you the warm fuzzies, with a mix of Southern allure and a community-first attitude.

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The Columbia Manor Essentials:

  • Holy Cross Missionary Baptist Church: A historical church that’s not only beautiful to look at but a significant cultural and community landmark.
  • Columbia County Senior Services: They take the “Senior” part of their name very seriously, providing a plethora of services and activities for those in their golden years.
  • North Florida Music Academy: Where your kids can hone their musical talents. The sounds of budding artists and the laughter of those being instructed will fill your home with joy.

Who’s ‘Columbia Manor’ Life For?

Seniors and families seeking a peaceful life with strong community ties will find their haven in Columbia Manor.

9. Deep Creek

Deep Creek captures the essence of Southern charm and hospitality that’s second to none, nestled within woods and streams that call the adventurer in you.

The Deep Creek Essentials:

  • Deep Creek Missionary Baptist Church: A blend of history, art, and spirituality, this classic Southern church is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys peaceful reflection.
  • Watertown Hotel: Tucked away in the woods just off U.S. 90, the hotel has stood the test of time and weathered many a storm. It’s a local icon not to be missed.
  • The Oaks Equestrian Center: A beautiful locale offering horseback riding lessons and camps for all ages to learn the art of equestrianism, Southern style.

Who’s ‘Deep Creek’ Life For?

The serene lifestyle and homage to nature make Deep Creek a perfect home for families seeking a blend of suburban life and rural seclusion.

10. Schoolhouse Site

Summing up the quiet and historical essence of Columbia County is Schoolhouse Site, a serene community that’s perfect for a laid-back lifestyle.

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The Schoolhouse Site Essentials:

  • The Schoolhouse Site Museum: Step into the area’s history at this quaint museum where knowledgeable volunteers pepper the visit with interesting tidbits that bring the past to life.
  • Lifepoint Church: A contemporary, family-oriented place of worship that welcomes all. Its vibrant energy and modern approach to community service set it apart.
  • The Tea Room: A charming, old-fashioned spot for an afternoon delight with their pies, tarts, and a variety of savory items. It’s the perfect casual-dining experience for a day downtown.

Who’s ‘Schoolhouse Site’ Life For?

If you’re an appreciator of history and value peace and tranquility, Schoolhouse Site is an ideal locale for you. Retirees and families looking for a sense of rootedness will find contentment here.

Frequently Asked Questions to Consider when Moving to Columbia County, FL

What are the best neighborhoods in Columbia County, FL?

The best neighborhoods really depend on what you’re looking for! From the family-friendly atmosphere of Lake City to the tranquil, nature-surrounded serenity of Lulu, there’s a spot for every preference. Do you crave outdoor adventures? Then McAlpin might just be your slice of paradise.

What kind of recreational activities are available in Columbia County, FL?

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat! From kayaking along the Ichetucknee River, bird watching in the Suwannee River State Park, to rodeo events in Lulu, your calendar can be as packed with activities as you want it to be. Plus, the community parks and trails provide endless opportunities for family outings and exercise.

Are there any cultural or community events in Columbia County, FL?

Absolutely! Columbia County is a community that thrives on connectivity and shared experiences. From the Wellborn Blueberry Festival to the Olustee Battle Festival and the Alligator Warrior Festival, there’s always something going on that celebrates local heritage and brings the community together.

Is Columbia County, Fl prone to natural disasters including sinkholes?

Like much of Florida, Columbia County is not exempt from natural disasters such as hurricanes and thunderstorms. However, it is less prone to sinkholes compared to other parts of the state. It’s always a good idea to stay informed about weather conditions and take appropriate precautions.

What is the education system like in Columbia County, FL?

Columbia County offers a range of educational opportunities with public schools, private institutions, and options for higher education. The community values education highly, and local schools are known for their commitment to student success.

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How is the commute in Columbia County, FL?

One of the perks of living in Columbia County is the relatively stress-free commuting experience. Traffic is much lighter than in bigger cities, with most commutes taking less than 30 minutes. However, having a car is almost essential for navigating around the county.

What is the healthcare access like in Columbia County, FL?

Residents have access to comprehensive healthcare services within the county, including hospitals, clinics, and specialty care centers. The healthcare infrastructure ensures that most health care needs can be met locally.

How welcoming is Columbia County, FL to newcomers?

Columbia County is known for its Southern hospitality and welcoming community. Newcomers often find it easy to integrate and make connections, thanks to the warm-hearted residents and numerous community events designed to bring people together.

Are there any local delicacies I should try?

Get ready to loosen your belt a notch for some Southern cuisine delights. Don’t miss out on the Wellborn Blueberry Festival, where the blueberry pancakes will change your life. And if you’re into something savory, our local barbecue joints will have you dreaming of brisket and ribs for days.

Is Columbia County a good place for retirees?

Absolutely! With its affordable cost of living, vibrant community events, and stress-free lifestyle, many retirees find Columbia County the perfect place to enjoy their golden years. Whether you’re into golf, gardening, or gator watching, there’s something here for everyone.

The housing market in Broward County offers a diverse selection for potential buyers. Whether you’re seeking the vibrant lifestyle of an urban condo or the tranquility of a suburban home, there are options to cater to various preferences and needs.

Helpful Tip: Florida is known to be prone to sinkhole issues. Check the Columbia County sinkhole map for more details

Conclusion: Is Columbia County, A Good Place to Live in?

Each city in Columbia County, Florida, is like a chapter in a heartwarming novel – unique, enticing, and filled with stories waiting to be lived out. From the historical gems to the unmatched beauty of its natural landscapes, there’s something for everyone. It’s the ideal blend of Southern heritage, modern amenities, and Florida’s natural splendor, making life here a true masterpiece.

The allure of each city is unmistakable, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, looking to invest in a Floridian property, or a local searching for gems you might have missed. With its tight-knit communities, dedication to history, and an outdoor playground that is every nature lover’s dream, Columbia County is more than just a place—it’s a lifestyle. Welcome to the good life in Columbia County, where every day is a new adventure in the making.

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