The City of Lakeland
The City of Lakeland makes for an excellent base camp due to its cental location. The international airports of Tampa and Orlando are within an hour drive and the beaches are a mere 30 minutes beyond that.
Lakeland, though not the capital of Polk County, is the county's most vibrant city. Lakeland has a sophistication you might not expect to find in small-town environment. From theater and the arts to music and cultural events like First Friday and Zombie Fest, the Lakeland community always has something to offer.
Any town that is brave enough to support a Zombie Fest is my kind of town.
Click on the photo above to see a couple YouTube videos of the event.
The Lake Mirror Classic Car Show held every October showcases more than 600 show vehicles and attracts more than 35,000 visitors. Classic cars stretch for miles around downtown and along the art deco Lake Mirror promenade. If you like cars, this is a not to be missed event.
It is said that one 1.5 million tourists visit Polk County every year. Many of them come to enjoy the plentiful golf. There are more than 12 public, private and municipal golf courses in the city and plenty more a short drive away. 30% chance of rain means that one in three courses will get rained one. Choose wisely.
Lakeland notables employers include Publix, The Detroit Tigers, The Lakeland Regional Medical Center and World Headquarter of Telephoto Florida.
Regardless of the season, wild life viewing at Circle B can be incredible. The site is a quickly becoming a go to spot for nature photographers, hikers, and cyclists alike. Bring a picnic and make a day of it, or spend a couple quality hours in the real Florida. This location never disappoints. Located at the south end of Lakeland, off highway 540, Circle B is a must do if you are anywhere near the Lakeland area.
Lakeland's posted population is 97,000 souls (2011 census). This number grows by the tens of thousands when Snowbird migration is in full swing.
Time your visits to Hollis Botanical Garden around what's in bloom. Stroll the promenade around the lake have a bite at the Garden Cafe.
Who knew you could find white beach sand as far inland as Lakeland? Stop by Lakeland Highland Scrub for a unique look at scrub and scrubby flatwoods.
Detroit Tigers Spring Training
Lake Parker is perhaps the most picturesque of the local lakes. It is a popular spot for birding, boating, picnics and fishing. Take a drive along West Lake Parker Drive for one of Lakeland's premier vista.
The Mute Swans that grace Lake Morton near downtown were a gift from the Queen of England and are descendants of a large flock that lived on London's Thames River.
Downtown Lakeland has unique shops and quality restaurants. Palace Pizza is a Lakeland icon. Be sure to stop by First Friday or the Saturday Farmers Market.
Hilochee Wildlife Management Area is a little known trail in Polk County that runs east and west along Interstate 4 just east of Lakeland and as far as Highway 27 to the east. These trails are mostly open sun and run along the tree banks south of the Interstate. Not much shade so choose your time of day. TPF would not call this spot a gem, but a nice walk if you are in the area.