The Gateway to The Everglades
As you enter the town of Belle Glade, you’ll see a sign that reads “Her Soil is Her Fortune.” It’s your first hint that things are a little different at the western edge of The Palm Beaches. Perched on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, the largest inland body of water in Florida, The Glades are our gateway to the Everglades, where palm trees give way to moss-draped oaks and tropical landscapes melt into pastures and swampland.
The cluster of farming communities that includes Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay—together known as The Glades—form a major hub of Florida’s agricultural heartland. The ink-black soil (so thick the locals affectionately call it “muck”) is fertile ground for sugarcane and sweet corn. Each September, the country-fried Black Gold Jubilee celebrates the end of the harvest season. You can learn more about Belle Glade’s fascinating place in Florida history at the Lawrence E. Will Museum. Or catch a concert, theater production or local art show at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center.
Lake Okeechobee is a big draw for anglers – some even call it the Bass Fishing Capital of America (the crappie, speck and bluegill fishing are pretty great, too). Bringing your boat? Head to Pahokee Marina and Campground, which has tent and RV hookups plus a lakeside swimming pool. Other camping options in the area include Torry Island Campground, a prime spot for bald eagle, osprey and roseate spoonbill sightings, and the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail—or as locals call it, “LOST,” but don’t let that scare you away. This 109-mile trail is a great place to hike, bike or even horseback ride along the lake rim, catch crimson sunsets and simply savor a slower-paced side of The Palm Beaches.