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Union County is the least-populated and geographically-smallest county in our Natural North Florida region. Located northeast of Gainesville and the University of Florida, a trip to Lake Butler is like a trip back in time. Timber is the largest natural resource, but the lake in downtown Lake Butler and the headwaters of the Santa Fe River near the town of Worthington Springs, are the focal points of the county.
There are a few businesses and government buildings along SR100, which crosses Lake Butler’s downtown, on the way from Keystone Heights and Palatka. SR121 is the main route from Gainesville. It enters Union County at the small town of Worthington Springs and the crossing of the Santa Fe River. There’s some excellent picnic facilities at the county park at Worthington Springs, as well as a primitive boat ramp for small craft under the SR121 bridge.
The recreational focus of the town of Lake Butler is the lake, where you’ll find a sand beach, a playground, picnic tables and shelter and a splash pad for the kids (open in non-school months). There’s also the terminus of the Lake Butler to Palatka Bike Trail, as well as plenty of parking with access to a few convenience stores.
The bike trail passes several interesting historic homes and sites, just outside the downtown area.
A recent (September 2018) addition to Lake Butler and Union County is Simmer Down Lakeside Grill, located adjacent to the beach. They’re open Tuesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner (Buffet on Sundays), with an excellent selection of menu items, including plated meals and sandwiches. The service and quality of food is excellent, and a meal there might make a relaxed end to a day in Union County.