Known throughout history for being the home of a number of Native American tribes, Lakeland now houses the Circle B Bar Reserve, an area of protected land.
Nowadays Lakeland is also known for its lakes, from which the city takes its name, and there are several to explore in the city with easy walking trails that lead from one to another.
Fishing, boating, and bird watching are all popular pastimes in Lakeland, and those who want to get out and about will love the tranquil scenery in this part of the United States.
As well as lakes, visitors here will also find engaging museums, local historic points of interest, and sporting venues.
1. Polk Theatre
The Polk Theatre is not just a theatre; it is also on the US National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1928. The venue has 1,400 seats and a range of gorgeous period features that architecture lovers need to look out for.
These include high balconies, a colorful Venetian piazza, and a painted cloud and star covered ceiling.
Visitors can come here if they want to catch a musical or theatrical performance, and as well as live performances the Polk Theatre also screens all the latest movies.
For confirmed film buffs, there are also classic and independent movie nights.
2. Lake Parker
Situated in the northeast of Lakeland, Lake Parker is named after famous resident and pioneer Parker Streety.
Known for being one of the best loved lakes in Lakeland, visitors to Lake Parker can enjoy boating and fishing on the glassy and calm waters and there are two dedicated fishing piers.
The lake is simply teeming with aquatic life including fish like bass, bluegill, and crappie, to name but a few, and if you don’t want to take to the waters there are also picturesque trails in the vicinity.
One such trail skirts around the side of the lake before leading to nearby Lake John, which is why it is aptly named the Lake-to-Lake Trail.
3. Explorations V Children’s Museum
Perfect for families who are travelling to the Lakeland area, Explorations V Children’s Museum is a fun museum with a mission to educate children through exploration and active play.
One of the key concepts behind the museum is the use of the five senses which is why the museum has a V in its name to represent the number five.
The museum is built in sections around different themes such as music, space, flora and fauna, and science, and all the exhibits are designed to engage young minds and allow children hands on learning.
Definitely this is the place to come for an educational but fun day out with younger visitors.
4. Circle B Bar Reserve
The Circle B Bar Reserve is actually not a bar at all but an area of land in Polk County that is protected in order to preserve the lush flora and fauna around the Lakeland area.
Part of the reserve includes Polk’s Nature Discovery Center which tells visitors all about the diverse plant and wildlife in the area and has engaging interactive displays and exhibits.
Bird watching is a popular pastime here as there are a huge number of different species as well as animals like alligators, snakes, otters, and bobcats that roam freely.
5. Lakeland Center
The Lakeland Center is a massive arena and theater in Lakeland that first opened its doors in 1974 and has been entertaining crowds ever since.
The arena hosts sporting events such as hockey, soccer, and American football matches, and you can even catch wrestling matches here.
If you prefer music then there are a range of concerts held here annually.
6. Polk Museum of Art
The Polk Museum of Art first opened in 1966 and has been a source of inspiration to the art community in Polk for many years.
The museum has over 2,500 works that date back to the Pre-Columbian era through to the present so for those that prefer contemporary art there is still plenty to see.
Aside from enjoying the actual art work you can also go for a stroll in the lush gardens that surround the museum and take in the sculptures that decorate the outdoor areas.
There are also rotating exhibitions held here that include works from artists from Lakeland as well as the wider area.
7. Joker Marchant Stadium
Designed to seat a massive 8,500 people, Joker Marchant Stadium is Lakeland’s premier baseball stadium and first opened in 1966. The stadium acts as the training ground for the Detroit Tigers and if you happen to be in the areas this is a great place to catch a game of all-American baseball.
The stadium was renovated in 2003 and locals and visitors alike flock here to take in games between both local and visiting teams.
8. Fantasy of Flight
If you like anything aviation related then you will love Fantasy of Flight in Lakeland that teaches visitors all about the history of flight including during the First and Second World Wars.
Opened in the 1980s, the attraction features the largest collection of private aircraft in the world.
There are also aerial displays and almost all of the pieces in Fantasy of Flight’s collection are still in flying condition.
There is even a seaplane runway so that you can get a taste of all the different kinds of aircraft available so if you love planes then this is one place not to miss on a trip to Lakeland.
9. Hollis Garden
A delightful place to spend an afternoon in Lakeland, Hollis Garden is close to the downtown area which makes it a convenient and centrally located attraction in the heart of the city.
The gardens here have more than 10,000 flowers as well as picturesque fountains and stunning views of nearby Lake Mirror.
Key features of Hollis Garden include gorgeous rose gardens as well as a butterfly trail, and there are even amazing architectural touches like a grand staircase.
10. Lake Morton
Lake Morton is known for its crystal clear waters and serene atmosphere, and the area around the lake is covered in walking trails that allow visitors to truly appreciate the splendid views of the area.
Popular activities at Lake Morton include fishing on the lake and there are stocks of trout and bass that make this the perfect place for fishermen to try their luck.
Aside from fishing, boating on the lake is also possible with boat ramps available on the northwest shore.
11. Munn Park Historic District
Munn Park Historic District takes its name from Abraham Munn, the founder of the city.
Within the historic area you will find Munn Park itself as well as 48 historic buildings.
Munn Park was designed as a memorial to the soldiers who fought during the period of the Confederate States of America, and there are statues and ceremonial plaques in their honor dotted around the park.
Other areas of interest to look out for are quirky buildings such as the Old Coca Cola building and Old City Hall.
12. The Florida Air Museum at Sun ‘n’ Fun
This fun museum in Lakeland was first opened in 1974 by a group of local hobbyists who loved all things aviation related and is partly located in an aircraft hangar.
The collections of aircraft here are spectacular and anyone with an interest in aviation history will love the pieces on show which range from the Second World War up until the present.
You will even find the motor of a Mercury rocket here and there is a gift shop attached to the museum if you want to stock up on some aviation related souvenirs.
13. Lake Hollingsworth
Conveniently located in the center of Lakeland, Lake Hollingsworth spans an impressive 350 acres.
Skirting around the lake you will find a path that can be used for cycling in the area or you can choose to walk along a trail known as the Lake-to-Lake Trail which leads to other lakes in the area including Lake John and Lake Parker.
Popular activities for visitors to the park include bird watching as there are number of interesting species such as pelicans, plovers, and spoonbills.
The park takes its name from John Henry Hollingsworth, a local pioneer who made Lakeland his home.
14. Florida Southern College Frank Lloyd Wright Visitors Center
This center is located on the grounds of Florida Southern College and hosts a permanent showcase of photographs, paintings, drawings, and furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous American architect from the region.
As well as a permanent collection of Wright’s memorabilia, the center also hosts temporary exhibits of pieces from other museums dedicated to Wright.
The building within which the museum sits is part of the Florida Southern College Historic District and is itself a Historic Landmark and also has the claim to fame of being the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world.
There are walking tours that guests here can sign up for, and you can choose from self guided walks to full behind-the-scenes tours with knowledgeable local volunteers.
15. Common Ground Park
Common Ground Park is a firm favorite amongst locals in the Lakeland area and is famous for being a cutting edge park that has a range of learning through play activities for children.
The park first opened in 2009 and is dedicated to providing youngsters with opportunities for free play to improve their physical and cognitive development.
The park is covered with turf that prevents the children from getting hurt and there are a series of inter-connected play zones with different themes.
These include mountains, canyons, valleys, and meadows, and encourage children to explore to their hearts’ content.
Aside from the actual playground features there are also flower gardens that allow young visitors to interact with the nature around them.