Nestled in the heart of Polk County, Florida, Bartow is a charming city with a rich history and a vibrant community. While it may not be as well-known as some of the larger cities in the state, Bartow has a unique charm and a variety of activities that make it a hidden gem for both locals and visitors. If you find yourself in the area, here are some must-try things to do in Bartow, Florida.
- Explore Historic Downtown Bartow: Start your journey by taking a stroll through the historic downtown area of Bartow. Lined with picturesque brick streets and historic architecture, this area offers a glimpse into the city’s past. You’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, and charming cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Polk County History Center, housed in the former courthouse, to learn more about the area’s fascinating history.
- Bartow’s Wildlife and Nature: Nature enthusiasts will find Bartow to be a haven for outdoor activities. Pay a visit to Mary Holland Park, a beautiful spot for picnics, hiking, and bird watching. The park features scenic trails, a playground, and a lake, providing a peaceful escape into nature. Additionally, the Peace River Hike and Bike Trail is perfect for those looking to explore the natural beauty of Florida on foot or by bicycle.
- Visit the Polk County Historical Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich history of the region by visiting the Polk County Historical Museum. Located in Bartow’s historic courthouse, the museum showcases exhibits on the diverse cultural and historical aspects of the county. From pioneer life to the citrus industry, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the area’s heritage.
- Cruise the Fort Fraser Trail: If you’re a cycling enthusiast, don’t miss the chance to explore the Fort Fraser Trail. This 7.7-mile trail winds through scenic landscapes, offering a delightful experience for bikers, joggers, and nature lovers. The trail provides a perfect opportunity to appreciate Florida’s natural beauty and observe local wildlife.
- Dine at Local Eateries: Bartow boasts a variety of eateries that cater to diverse tastes. Whether you’re in the mood for classic Southern comfort food, fresh seafood, or international cuisine, Bartow has something for everyone. Take a culinary journey by exploring local favorites and discovering the unique flavors the city has to offer.
- Attend Local Events: Check the local events calendar for festivals, farmers’ markets, and community gatherings. Bartow hosts a range of events throughout the year, providing opportunities to connect with the community and experience the city’s vibrant culture.
- Fishing at Saddle Creek Park: Fishing enthusiasts will find Saddle Creek Park to be a prime spot for angling. The park features a large freshwater lake stocked with a variety of fish species. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, the peaceful surroundings and well-maintained facilities make it an excellent place to spend a day by the water.
- Golfing at Bartow Golf Course: Tee off at the Bartow Golf Course, a beautifully maintained public course surrounded by lush landscapes. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a challenging round while taking in scenic views of the surrounding countryside. The course welcomes players of all skill levels, making it a great activity for both beginners and experienced golfers.
- Bok Tower Gardens Day Trip: Take a short drive from Bartow to Lake Wales and visit the stunning Bok Tower Gardens. This National Historic Landmark features a 205-foot-tall singing tower with carillon bells, botanical gardens, and a tranquil reflection pool. It’s a peaceful retreat where you can appreciate both art and nature.
- Bartow Farmers’ Market: Embrace the local flavors by visiting the Bartow Farmers’ Market. Held regularly, this market showcases fresh produce, handmade crafts, and local artisanal products. Engage with local vendors, sample regional treats, and experience the community spirit that defines Bartow.
- Antique Shopping on Main Street: Main Street in Bartow is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts. Explore the various antique shops and boutiques that line the street, offering a wide array of vintage furniture, collectibles, and unique finds. It’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon browsing through the past.
- Attend a Performance at the Polk Theatre: Check the schedule at the historic Polk Theatre for live performances, concerts, and classic film screenings. This beautifully restored theater is a local landmark, and attending an event here provides a nostalgic and entertaining experience.
- Picnic at Mosaic Park: Pack a picnic basket and head to Mosaic Park for a relaxed afternoon surrounded by nature. This park features open green spaces, walking paths, and a playground, making it an ideal spot for families, couples, or anyone looking to enjoy a peaceful outdoor meal.
- Join a Kayaking Adventure on the Peace River: For those seeking a bit of adventure, consider exploring the Peace River by kayak. Several local outfitters offer guided kayak tours, allowing you to paddle through serene waters while observing the local wildlife and enjoying the natural beauty of Florida.
- Experience Local Art at the Bartow Art Guild: Visit the Bartow Art Guild to appreciate the work of local artists. The guild often hosts exhibitions and events, providing a platform for the community to engage with and support the thriving local art scene.
Bartow, Florida, may not be the most well-known destination, but it certainly has much to offer. From its historic downtown to its natural wonders, this city provides a diverse range of activities for all interests. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or foodie, Bartow invites you to explore its hidden gems and discover the unique charm that sets it apart from the more prominent cities in the Sunshine State.