What do you do in your free time at UCF? Whether you live on or off campus, the answer is probably hanging out with friends, eating at the local restaurants, or studying at the library. These are nice ways of occupying those hours in between class, but wouldn’t you like to deviate from the normal? Better yet, wouldn’t you like to deviate from the normal for free? Many students aren’t aware that there is a full access lake on campus, where you can do a variety of activities at no cost! Just like its campus-apartment counterpart, it is called Lake Claire. The location is in a remote area of UCF. It lies on the very outskirts of campus at the intersection of Greek Park Drive and Gemini Blvd North. However, its low-key existence doesn’t mean it’s a dull place to visit. Consider it a hidden gem of the university.
Lake Claire isn’t just a lake; it’s an entire area of recreation. This area is equipped with pavilions, two sandy volleyball courts, and a dock. Students are welcome to host parties and barbeque under these pavilions. In fact, barbeque equipment is available to rent, along with bocce ball, corn hole, volleyballs, footballs, and other party favors. All of these items are free; all you need is your UCF ID. You can bring all the food and music you want, but alcohol is prohibited. Numerous sorority and fraternity events are hosted here, as well as one of the Late Knight events for freshman. Lake Claire is also a major spot for tailgating at the football games. However, reservations are suggested to ensure yourself a spot. You can do so by going to the Lake Claire Recreation Center page online. Don’t feel like partying? Then feel free to just relax and sunbathe by the water.
Now, of course, the major attraction of Lake Claire is the lake itself. Students can rent kayaks, paddleboards, canoes, and pedal boats to enjoy themselves on the water. Just like the items mentioned previously, these are all free. Swimming is not permitted on the lake. “Falling off the paddle board is the best you can get with that,” says Amanda Darcangelo, junior and Lake Claire employee. Sadly, fishing isn’t permitted either. However, this does not take away from the top water experience. You will encounter some very social turtles on your ride. They like to pop up and check out the people above surface. Ultimately, what makes this lake so amazing is the diversity it allows. It’s a perfect way to spend your free time in between classes or if a class is canceled. If you don’t have class, it’s a great way to spend a day outdoors without leaving campus. Moreover, it’s a romantic (and cheap) date idea.
Amanda Darcangelo states that kayaks are the most popular rented item. If you have never been kayaking before, this is a perfect place to start. “Lake Claire is great for beginners to kayak because it’s small and doesn’t have a lot of wake,” says George Oehl, co-president of the Outlanders Club at UCF. Quite a few members of this club go to Lake Claire to enjoy themselves. If you are serious about pursuing kayaking, the Outlanders club makes regular trips to the Econlockhatchee River. But George assures that “this river is for more experienced adventurers who have their own kayaking gear.” To become more experienced, practice on Lake Claire!
So whether you want to go with friends, a date, or even by yourself, Lake Claire is a perfect way to spend your free time. Feel the sand between your toes, the lake breeze in your hair, and then go to your next class with a clear mind. Be sure to check it out!