Let’s go local!! You and I have a treasure trove of things to do in nearby Lakeland, only 75 minutes north of us! With so many places to visit, you might like to stay for lunch or dinner and make a day of it. You might find one of your favorite restaurants listed below or an exciting new taste experience and its so easy to visit!
A LITTLE HISTORY: Lakeland, Florida was incorporated January 1, 1885. The town was founded by Abraham Munn, who purchased 80 acres of land in what is now downtown Lakeland in 1882 and platted the land for the town in 1884. Munn was a resident of Louisville, Kentucky. By the mid-1890’s some 25 trains were stopping in Lakeland each day. Because of the excellent railroad service, progressive outlook, attractive location and elevation (227 feet), the community grew and prospered. City fathers knew how to deal with crime in early Lakeland. In 1886 they passed an ordinance prohibiting “straggling around” the town. The mayor’s report for the second quarter of that year shows 36 arrests; offenses included fighting, gambling, boisterous cursing and swearing, public drinking, lewd conduct, discharging firearms, sanitary violations, petty larceny and peddling without a license. The first jail was called the McDermott House — named after its first occupant. With a current population of 100,000+ Lakeland continues to grow. Its location in central Florida with easy access to Disney, Busch Gardens, and Bok Tower, Lakeland is on the map. Amazon Air has built a new cargo complex at Lakeland Airport to increase delivery speed for Prime customers.
Points of Interest – Look at all the great things to do:
Florida Southern College has several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Its delightful to stroll the campus. They offered tours during the week but I’m not sure if they still do that during the pandemic. You could easily walk around to enjoy the unusual buildings. The college is located on the north edge of Lake Hollingsworth which has wonderful paths for biking or walking. The Polk Museum of Art’s located on the college grounds has a unique collection which ranges from pre-Columbian artifacts to contemporary paintings. It’s a private, non-profit, and nationally accredited art museum and a member of the Florida Association of Museums. The Polk Museum of Art is ranked among the top art museums in the state of Florida, and is a Smithsonian Affiliate. Admission to the museum is free to the general public.
Munn Park Historic District in the downtown area is known for its antiques shops and early-1900s architecture.
Lake Monroe: Don’t miss the lovely drive around this beautiful lake with its black swans, white swans, storks and more birds than you can count. There are benches to sit on…but…lol…I wouldn’t want to walk on the grass to get to those benches, if you know what I mean!
Circle B Bar Reserve is an area of protected lands in Polk County, Florida. Comprising 1,267 acres at 4399 Winter Lake Road near Lakeland, Florida, the area is managed by the Polk County Board of County Commissioners. Polk’s Nature Discovery Center, completed in 2008, features interactive displays about the plants, animals, and ecosystems of the reserve. The center serves as the focus of environmental education programs and explorations for families and school groups,
Cobb Lakeside 18 Theater with IMAX. How terrific to have an IMAX theater nearby!!!
Lake Mirror, crystal clear water, with its promenade paved paths for walking or biking, and neoclassical Hollis Garden with scenic lakeside gardens and fountains
Barnett Family Park is a City park offering a playground with a splash pad, labyrinth, covered picnic area & restrooms.
Safari Wilderness, A rare and unique experience, enveloped by an open vista of grazing animals surrounded by cypress domes and bay trees. Enjoy the fresh breath of safari air year-round as enormous birds soar overhead and the stage is set. Safari Wilderness Ranch is not a zoo or theme park. There are no crowds and no lines. Here you will enjoy a natural adventure. The knowledgeable and experienced driver guides will tour you through large herds of exotic game over 260 acres of pristine wilderness in customized safari vehicles, fitted with shade canopies and stadium seating. If you prefer a more adventurous mode of transport, you can view our wild game with a guide by camelback, ATV, or kayak. This is a family-owned, licensed working game ranch which specializes in wetland exotic species, African Watusi, and Irish Dexter cattle (heritage breeds). Our visitors are strictly limited in number, reflecting the sensitivity of our area and it works for us in this pandemic time.
Explorations V Children’s Museum is an independent, non-profit 501 children’s museum in downtown Lakeland. It is dedicated to providing a hands-on, fun-filled adventure in learning for children and families through three floors of kid-powered exhibits and programs that celebrate the five senses, hence the “V” in the name, and everything is designed with hidden learning concepts.
Florida Air Museum, formerly known as the International Sport Aviation Museum and the SUN ‘n FUN Air Museum, is designated as Florida’s “Official Aviation Museum and Education Center.” It features a display of aircraft including one-of-a-kind designs, classics, ultra-lights, antiques and warbirds.
Escapology Escape Park, escape room experience. This looks like great fun if your family is visiting. 5* rating.
RESTAURANTS – old favorites and new tastes to experience:
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille, American style, great seafood, classy site with nice atmosphere
Cafe Zuppina, Mediterranean and Turkish
Nineteen 61, Latin and Spanish
Ford’s Garage, tower of onion rings and bar, fun place to go. Antique cars hanging from the ceiling. Food is delicious! The french fries are to die for.
Thai Oishi, sushi and Asian offerings
Bonefish Grill, Seafood
Carrabba’s, yummy Italian
PhoTan, Asian and Vietnamese…mostly noodles.
Cafe Roti, Indian and Middle Eastern
Elena’s Cuban Cafe
Steak and Shake
Anthony’s Health Hut and Restaurant, healthy options
Lavender and Lace Tearoom, authentic high tea service
The Twisted Teapot, great gift shop
There is so much to see and do in and around Lakeland and so many terrific restaurants to try with so many varied cuisines. Plan a visit soon!
Sources for photos: atlasobscura.com, gothere.com, visitflorida.com