Considered among the best places to reside in Florida, Lakeland is a city in Polk County. While Central Florida is rich in beautiful and aesthetic locations, Lakeland has a charm to it like no other city.
It is known for being not only a cultural hub but also a residential paradise as well as a tourist spot. Lakeland’s location also works in its favor, with it being right between the Tampa Bay Area and Orlando, both of which are Florida’s most famous tourist attractions.
Lakeland may be less heard of, but that makes it even more special. Since it is overlooked as opposed to the larger, more famous cities, it is quite serene and unique.
Even if Lakeland is less explored, it has a lot of fun activities and spots for tourists. Here are the top 15 things to do in Lakeland, Florida:
Have A Dreamy Day at Lake Parker
The biggest lake in Lakeland, Lake Parker extends for 2,272 acres. This freshwater lake can be found in North Lakeland. The Lake Parker Park leads up to the lake, making the entire experience picturesque and adventurous.
With multiple boat ramps as well as fishing piers, the lake is famous for the boating and fishing facilities it offers. Freshwater fishes can be found here, most famously the largemouth bass.
You can reserve a fishing trip for between 300-400 Dollars, and can also ask for expert fishing guides who can help you have an optimal fishing experience, guaranteeing a catch at the end of your rod.
For those not interested in fishing, there is dense vegetation all around the park. Keep out a keen eye for rare beauties like cattails and bulrush.
The diversity of wildlife here adds to the thrill, ranging from birds to alligators. The park and the path which goes around the lake make fora peaceful spot to sit and relax while taking in the preserved natural beauty of the place.
Experience the Wild at Safari Wilderness
Safari Wilderness at Lakeland provides an authentic tour around the natural habitat of wild animals, covering more than 250 acres.
Located in The Green Swamp, a huge preserved forest in Central Florida, the Safari Wilderness offers a typical African safari in Central Florida. Not only is the area dense in vegetation and trees, but it is also rich in animals and birds. More than 400 types of animals roam the expansive area, most of them uncaged.
The safari is a breath of fresh air, far away and distinct from the city. Open jeeps, covered just by a canopy, are driven by expert guides who will take you all over the park.
Animals such as llamas, ostriches, buffaloes, and deer can come right next to your window, allowing you to pet them. What makes the entire experience seem even more authentic is seeing animals belonging to different species live in one space.
And with the safari tours going on for so many years, they are used to humans and have adapted to a friendly nature.
Watch A Classic Film at Polk Theatre
Built almost a hundred years ago, Polk Theatre offers the experience of old cinema. It was built during the Golden Age of Hollywood, making it a crowd-puller.
However, with the struggling economy and a World War, Polk Theatre began to face trouble. With low attendance, the establishment had to rope people in through contests and giveaways.
Finally, in 1982, a group of people took a grant from the government and bought the theatre. Now, it runs as a non-profit organization.
But the Polk Theatre has more to it than its rich history.
Its stunning architecture can give you a jump to the old days of theatre, with a massive seating for more than a thousand people and an intricately designed ceiling that gives the illusion of a sky full of stars.
The theatre now puts on plays, Broadway shows, concerts, along with classic, independent, and foreign films at regular intervals. Tickets are as low as 7 Dollars, making it affordable for everyone.
Admire the Art at Polk Museum of Art
Among the best art museums in Florida, the Polk Museum of Art has free entry for everyone since it’s a non-profit entity.
It is two blocks away from the Florida Southern College campus. While it may have a free ticket, it is home to some of the rarest artwork and sculptures in Florida, including ceramic plates painted by Pablo Picasso.
It boasts of works that are contemporary and modern, along with several African and European pieces. In total, the museum features more than 2500 works, making it an interesting place to visit.
Click Pictures at Lake Mirror Park
Named by the American Planning Association as one among the top 10 best public places in America, Lake Mirror Park is particularly special because of its multiple features and facilities.
It is accompanied by a promenade which gives a beautiful scenic view of the lake and gardens. Next to it, the Hollis Garden, which is tiered and full of flowers and shrubs, makes for a beautiful spot to sit and relax.
Extra elements such as a beautiful human-made fountain and a huge metal structure as the centerpiece, add uniqueness to the park and also make it an aesthetic location to click pictures.
Lake Mirror Park is a busy place, with more than 900 events taking place each year.
Hike in the Circle B Bar Reserve
Circle B Bar Reserve is a protected nature reserve in Lakeland which spans across more than 1200 acres. Since it isn’t a wilderness park, animals are roaming quite freely all around.
There is almost a full guarantee that you will witness at least one alligator on a lake bank. A cattle-farm turned reserve, it is home to hundreds of bird species, all of which can be spotted and identified by expert guides.
The most thrilling aspect of the Circle B Bar Reserve is that it is unpredictable. You can spot anything on any given day, so be on the lookout for wild animals in their natural habitat.
And the best part is, entry to the reserve is completely free!
Spend a Romantic Evening at the Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre
The Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre in Lakeland is almost 70 years old. It was the first and is now the only remaining drive-in theatre in Lakeland.
The vintage vibe of the place attracts all kinds of crowds, from old people wanting to revisit the charm of watching timeless classics on the big screen to younger kids wanting to recreate the magic of the past.
The theatre plays both classics and new movies with tickets costing less than 10 Dollars. There is also a concession stand for you to enjoy snacks while watching the movie.
Some of the biggest blockbusters that have played on the Silver Moon screen are Grease, Footloose, Tom and Jerry, Back to the Future, amongst others.
Watch a Game at Joker Marchant Stadium
The Public Field in Joker Marchant Stadium is an 8500-seater baseball field. Opened more than 50 years ago, it has witnessed several renovations.
The stadium hosts baseball games very often. The fact that it is the training home (spring) of the Detroit Tigers, makes it an even bigger deal, especially for sports fans.
One of its biggest matches in this stadium which drew in more than 10,000 people was a training game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers.
Wander Around Frank Lloyd Wright at Florida Southern College
Frank Lloyd Wright, an American architect, was chiefly responsible for designing the campus of Florida Southern College. Over 2 decades, he delivered 18 designs, out of which 13 ended up being built.
Contributing to the design of the Florida Southern College was the biggest construction project Wright had ever undertaken. For this reason, the college has been named a historic landmark by the government.
Wright’s beautiful structures, which are now intertwined with the history of the college, can be seen on the campus. Some of these include the Buckner Building, the Danforth Chapel, the Water Dome, and many more.
Even if you don’t know architecture, you can visit the college campus to admire the beauty and uniqueness of Wright’s vision and talent.
Take Your Children to Explorations V Children’s Museum
Explorations V Children’s Museum has been designed specifically to create an optimal experience for children and to help them explore their creativity.
Displays and exhibits, designed to cater to children’s understanding, introduce them to culture, history, and diversity. Several educational programs and skill-building workshops are organized, which allow children to participate, learn, and feel a sense of fulfillment.
While the museum may be designed only for children, it has built an atmosphere that parents love too as it allows their children to thrive. A day spent at the Explorations V Children’s Museum would make for a fun activity for the entire family.
Stroll Around Lake Hollingsworth
One of the most popular lakes in Lakeland, Lake Hollingsworth has an area of 350 acres. A biking trail and a path surround its entire circumference, making it a famous spot for bikers and runners alike.
Much like other spots in Florida, birdwatching is another common activity in Lake Hollingsworth.
Since it is south of the Florida Southern College, the Wright architecture can be seen in the distance, making the walk around it even more scenic. Next to the lake, there are multiple cafes, parks, and restaurants.
Witness Beautiful Swans at Lake Morton
Lake Morton is less popular among visitors, as it is for locals. However, that makes it even more special for tourists, because it allows the entire area and neighborhood to not lose its original charm. It is popular for boating, jogging, and fishing.
Lake Morton is home to many species of birds, especially swans. It has the greatest number of black and white swans in one location in Lakeland. Other birds found here include ducks, gulls, storks, pelicans, herons, and many more.
Take A Walk at Colt Creek State Park
A part of The Green Swamp in Lakeland, Colt Creek State Park covers more than 5000 acres of land. It is home to a rich biodiversity of both vegetation and wildlife.
The park has managed to create a sustainable environment for both, humans to venture and explore and animals to thrive without being caged. Many endangered species such as Cooper’s hawk and the gopher tortoise can be spotted here.
The park allows for many recreational activities such as bicycling, camping, bird-watching, hiking, fishing, horse-riding, kayaking, and can even be rented to host a wedding.
Drink Freshly Brewed Beer at Swan Brewing
Up and running for the last 40 years, Swan Brewing is a local beer brewery in Lakeland. The founders and staff are known to be extremely friendly, chatty, and very passionate about beer, adding an extra personal touch to your visit.
The entire experience is super fun, as you get to try out samples too. They use locally sourced ingredients as much as possible, which makes the beer taste more unique.
Learn All About the Aviation World at the Florida Air Museum
The Florida Air Museum at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In is an aviation museum and research library devoted to educating the general public, children, as well as aspiring aerospace professionals about aviation.
The museum has not only exhibitions depicting the history of flights and places, but also a flight simulator for those interested. Old artifacts and presentations take people through the history and past of aviation.
Recently, the museum has also introduced a scholarship program for students in the industry. It also hosts summer camps and academies, which serve the purpose of education and exciting the youth for the future of the aerospace industry.
Even if you aren’t interested in aerospace, the Florida Air Museum will evoke curiosity in you and make you feel the excitement and magic of aviation.
These are the top 15 most fun activities one can do in Lakeland, Florida. If you’re in Florida, you must visit Lakeland and indulge yourself in these activities to make the most of your trip. Bon Voyage!