Lakeland, Florida, a hidden gem nestled between Tampa and Orlando, is a city that seamlessly combines historic charm with modern allure. Boasting picturesque landscapes, a vibrant arts scene, and a myriad of outdoor activities, Lakeland has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or art aficionado, this guide will lead you through the best things to do in Lakeland, ensuring a memorable visit.
Explore the Historic Downtown: Begin your Lakeland adventure by wandering through the historic downtown district. Lined with cobblestone streets and charming storefronts, downtown Lakeland exudes a nostalgic ambiance. Explore local boutiques, art galleries, and coffee shops. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the iconic Swan Lake and its resident swans.
Immerse Yourself in Art at the Polk Museum: Art lovers will appreciate the Polk Museum of Art, a cultural hub featuring an impressive collection of visual arts. From contemporary pieces to classical exhibits, this museum showcases diverse artistic expressions. Keep an eye on their events calendar for rotating exhibits and educational programs.
Stroll Through Hollis Garden: For a tranquil escape, head to Hollis Garden, a botanical paradise located on the shores of Lake Mirror. With over 10,000 flowers and ornamental plants, the garden is a haven for nature enthusiasts. The vibrant colors and carefully landscaped grounds make it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a peaceful afternoon picnic.
Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: Architecture enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to explore the collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings at Florida Southern College. Take a guided tour to learn about Wright’s vision and the unique features of this “Child of the Sun” architectural masterpiece.
Experience the Circle B Bar Reserve: Nature lovers will be captivated by the Circle B Bar Reserve, a wildlife haven located on the shores of Lake Hancock. Home to diverse ecosystems, this reserve offers hiking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and even a chance to spot alligators in their natural habitat. Bring your camera for breathtaking views of Florida’s natural beauty.
Attend a Sunflower Festival: If your visit aligns with the season, don’t miss the annual Sunflower Festival at Sweetfields Farm. This family-friendly event offers picturesque sunflower fields, hayrides, and a variety of activities for all ages. It’s a vibrant celebration of nature and community.
Indulge in Culinary Delights: Lakeland’s culinary scene is a treat for foodies. Explore local eateries and cafes, each offering a unique twist on traditional favorites. From farm-to-table dining to international cuisine, Lakeland’s diverse food scene is sure to satisfy every palate.
Take a Scenic Boat Tour on Lake Mirror: Experience Lakeland from a different perspective by taking a scenic boat tour on Lake Mirror. Admire the cityscape and lush greenery while learning about the history and ecology of the area. It’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon and appreciate the beauty of Lakeland’s lakes.
Attend Events at the RP Funding Center: Check the schedule at the RP Funding Center, Lakeland’s premier entertainment venue. From concerts and Broadway shows to sporting events and conferences, the center hosts a variety of activities throughout the year. Attending an event here can add a touch of excitement to your Lakeland visit.
Shop at Lakeside Village: Indulge in some retail therapy at Lakeside Village, an outdoor shopping and dining destination. Browse through a mix of well-known brands and unique boutiques, and then relax at one of the lakeside restaurants for a delightful meal with a view.
Learn at the Explorations V Children’s Museum: If you’re traveling with family, the Explorations V Children’s Museum is a must-visit. Designed for interactive learning, the museum features exhibits that engage children in science, art, and culture. It’s a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages.
Discover Aerospace History at the Florida Air Museum: Aviation enthusiasts will appreciate the Florida Air Museum at Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Explore vintage aircraft, learn about the history of flight, and even catch sight of airshows and events if your visit coincides with the annual Aerospace Expo.
Hike the Fort Fraser Trail: For those who enjoy outdoor activities, lace up your hiking boots and explore the Fort Fraser Trail. This scenic trail winds through lush landscapes, offering a peaceful escape for hikers, joggers, and nature enthusiasts. Keep an eye out for native wildlife along the way.
Attend the Lakeland Food Truck Rally: Delight your taste buds at the Lakeland Food Truck Rally, a recurring event that brings together a variety of food trucks offering diverse cuisines. It’s a fantastic opportunity to sample local flavors and enjoy a laid-back evening with friends and family.
Join a Ghost Tour in Downtown Lakeland: Embark on an evening adventure by joining a ghost tour through downtown Lakeland. Learn about the city’s haunted history and mysterious tales as you stroll through historic streets. It’s a unique way to blend history and a touch of the supernatural.
Lakeland, Florida, is a destination that surprises and delights at every turn. With its rich history, artistic flair, and natural wonders, this city invites visitors to create lasting memories. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll through botanical gardens, an exploration of architectural marvels, or an adventure in the great outdoors, Lakeland has an experience tailored just for you. Come and discover the many facets of this charming city – your next unforgettable journey awaits in Lakeland.