15 Best Things to Do in Auburndale (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Home to almost 20,000, this small but growing city is in a scenic part of Central Florida, defined by its lakes. In fact, almost 40% of Auburndale’s area is open water.

Many of Auburndale’s lakes are framed by residential developments or RV resorts. The biggest of these is Camp Margaritaville, with an easygoing island-style atmosphere.

One of my favorite things to do in Auburndale is just go for a stroll, starting at the City Park downtown. This is the centerpiece for a low-key commercial district with a lot of buildings going back to the turn of the 20th century. 

Food-wise, Auburndale has an array of tempting restaurants, a few of which have been on the scene for decades. 

There’s also an awesome cable park for water sports, and a multi-use trail heading off into the Central Florida wilderness.

1. Auburndale City Park

Auburndale City ParkSource: Susilyn / shutterstock
Auburndale City Park

Something I found really special about downtown Auburndale is how there’s a lush park at the very center. This is crossed by an active railroad line, with compelling historical details.

The preserved Seaboard Air Line Rail Depot is from 1926, in a Mediterranean Revival style, and is used as an event space. Meanwhile there’s also a bandstand in the southern corner for outdoor concerts. 

The park is a favorite destination for those with children who need to get rid of their pent-up energy. In addition to plenty of open spaces, there are playgrounds with a variety of equipment.

There are plenty of covered seating areas, and you can pick up something from one of the local eateries, which I’ll talk about below. 

Finally, the western corner has recently been turned into a fabulous butterfly garden, and is planted with native species favored by pollinators.

2. Auburndale TECO Trail

Auburndale TECO TrailSource: Catch Central Florida / Flickr
Auburndale TECO Trail

For much of the year, Central Florida’s climate is absolutely perfect for being outdoors. The Auburndale TECO Trail is an easy option for those who want to enjoy nature and burn a few calories without driving to a distant park.

To make things easy, the path is totally flat, and there’s only a handful of roads to deal with. You can pick the trail up at the northeast corner of Plymouth Road and Berkley Road, while in Polk City the trail connects with General James A. Van Fleet State Trail.

For wildlife encounters, the Van Fleet Trail continues northwards for another 30 miles, into highly remote swamplands. These are rich with gators, wading birds, raptors, deer, and the likes of armadillos. 

On the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad corridor from the 1880s, this multi-use paved trail stretches for almost seven miles.

3. International World Market

International World MarketSource: International Market World Auburndale Flea Market / Facebook
International World Market

On US Highway 92 in Auburndale, International World Market is part farmers’ market and part flea market. On top of that, this place is as much a social venue as it is a retail one.

Featuring tons of fresh, seasonal Florida produce in addition to prepared food items, books, tools, and vintage clothing, it’s really unlike other area attractions. Don’t be surprised if you end up staying longer than they’d originally intended.

On weekends, the market features a variety of events, including live entertainment and even alligator shows.

There’s ample free parking on-site, admission is free, and they’re known for their tasty coffee and fresh baked goods too.

4. Lake Myrtle Sports Park

Lake Myrtle Sports ComplexSource: City of Auburndale / Wikimedia
Lake Myrtle Sports Park

For sheer concentration of sports amenities, there’s no surpassing the Lake Myrtle Sports Park.

Featuring nine baseball fields, eleven standard soccer fields, and one championship-style soccer stadium, there’s always something going on at the complex.

Though the fields are often reserved for organized leagues, many visitors choose to swing by and take in a game or match. You can make use of the concession stand, at the heart of the complex. 

The park is also home to the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame, which gives guests a unique insight into the area’s rich sporting history. 

Every April, Auburndale City Fest takes place here, and I’ll describe this event in more detail below.

5. Auburndale City Fest

Every April Lake Myrtle Sports Park hosts Aubburndale’s big annual celebration. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s something for everyone at Auburndale City Fest.

First of all there’s live music all day long, for a wide range of tastes, whether you’re into soul, blues, party music, or pop rock. This is paired with a water sports meet on the lake, showcasing some of North America’s top competitors in wake sports.

Kids will be pleased with the touch-a-truck component, getting behind the wheel of anything from a police cruiser to an airboat. There’s also a fun zone for wee ones, and a food court, with treats like Italian ice, fudge, and kettle corn.

6. Baynard House Museum

Baynard House MuseumSource: Ebyabe / Wikimedia
Baynard House Museum

A few steps from Downtown City Park, there’s a preserved historic house, built in 1894. Named for the eminent developer and citrus grower, Ephraim Mikell Baynard (1860-1933), the Baynard House was slated for demolition in the late 20th century.

At that time it was rescued and restored by a team of local students. During the work, they uncovered astonishing original features, like heart pine flooring, and hand-carved door and window frames.

The house is furnished as it might have been at the turn of the 20th century. Baynard was declared a Great Floridian by the Florida Department of State in 2000, and there’s a plaque inside for this honor. 

When I was in town the building was temporarily closed to drop-in visitors. Following up, I learned that tours are available on request, and the house is open for special events.

7. Elite Cable Park

With so much water all around, I don’t think it’s a surprise that water sports are on the menu in Auburndale. One of Florida’s top cable parks can be found at Lake Myrtle, just off the TECO trail.

For newcomers, these facilities offer activities like water-skiing and wakeboarding, using an automatic cable track instead of a boat.

Perfect if you’re just starting out, there’s a Get Up Guarantee package. This will give you all the coaching, time, and equipment you could need to make sure you’re on your feet by the end of the day. 

There’s also a pro shop on site, as well as Tantrum’s Lakeside Grill for bowls, tacos, seafood baskets and more.

8. Lake Ariana Park

For all the large water bodies within Auburndale’s limits, there aren’t many public access points. My pick is this space on the southwest shore of Lake Ariana.

This is actually the city’s newest park, and was previously known as Mac’s Beach. You’ve got neatly trimmed lawns, with several palms and three large picnic shelters.

There’s a boat ramp too, along with a fishing dock, a volleyball court, and a narrow arc of sandy beach. Combined with the lake’s gentle waters, this is a fantastic place to bring kids for a splash.

9. Peebles Bar-B-Que

Peebles Bar-B-QueSource: Auburndale Chamber of Commerce / Facebook
Peebles Bar-B-Que

Since way back in 1947, Peebles Bar-B-Que has been an Auburndale institution. Though it has grown quite a bit from its humble beginnings as a side hustle, it has steadfastly remained a family business. 

The restaurant features a full menu of traditional barbecue items like pulled pork, sausage, sliced beef, and ribs. 

The sides really stood out for me, especially the coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad. Make sure to order some banana pudding if you still have room. 

Peebles has reasonable prices and a relaxed atmosphere. For hungry travelers looking for an authentic taste of the old south, there are few better options.

10. Camp Margaritaville Auburndale

One reason you may find yourself in Auburndale is because you’re staying at this RV Resort by Lake Myrtle.

All imbued with that laid-back tropical lifestyle, Camp Margaritaville has a tiki bar, fire pits, live music stage, a putting course, a resort water park, and much more. 

There are upwards of 300 RV sites, all with free Wi-Fi, and cable access with 50/30/20 amp breakers. If you want the resort experience without an RV, you could book one of the 75 cabins here. 

In keeping with the relaxed party vibe, there’s a calendar of themed weekends all year, including a whole month of spooky fun in October.

11. Marshall Hampton Reserve

Five minutes south of downtown you’ll enter a sprawling reserve on the north shore of Lake Hancock. The land was purchased by the Southwest Florida Water Management District in 2008 and opened to the public in the 2010s.

There’s over 1,100 acres of oak hammock and hardwood wetlands that can be explored on two loops. I loved the ​​Acorn Hammock Loop Trail, passing through a shaded oak hammock, with a lot of impressive live oak specimens.

If you’re out to do some birdwatching, the Osprey Overlook Loop trail has no tree cover. On this path you’ll get a clear view of raptors like ospreys and eagles hunting at a 60-acre pond.

12. Auburndale Speedway

Auburndale SpeedwaySource: Auburndale Speedway / Facebook
Auburndale Speedway

Dating back to 1974, this ¼-mile oval race track is no more than five minutes south of downtown Auburndale.

The current owners took over in 2007, and furnished the bleachers with benches acquired from Daytona International Speedway. 

Come on Fridays and Saturdays for noisy high-speed fun. For categories you’ve got pure stocks, Sportsmen, Late Models, Street Stocks, Modifieds, Mini Stocks, Bandoleros, and many more.

Kids are guaranteed to have a blast at Night of Destruction, with monster trucks, a demo derby, and figure 8 racing with school buses. 

When I was here, I was impressed to find out that NASCAR star Ross Chastain cut his teeth at this track, among others in Florida.

13. The Shake Shoppe

On the north corner of Downtown City Park there’s a classic ice cream stand. The Shake Shoppe has been a fixture in Auburndale for decades, and offers a mix of frozen treats and lunch options.

I got an Arctic Swirl, which is equivalent to Dairy Queen’s Blizzards. These are made with your choice of candy, from Oreo to Butterfinger, Snickers or Reese’s Cups. 

Aside from that, you’ve got a wide choice of shakes, soft serve, Hershey Ice Cream, sundaes, slushies, floats and snow cones. 

For something savory there’s a range of comfort food, including hot dogs, subs, sandwiches, and the popular double cheeseburger.

14. Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro

This adorable tea room is in an exquisite old building downtown. This Vernacular residence dates from around 1908, and over time has also been used as a church and restaurant.

Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro, the current occupant, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. On the menu are gourmet teas and coffees, as well as elevated Southern lunch fare.

I’m talking, a Harvest Cobb Salad with dried fruits and apple cider vinaigrette, or the Hay Ride, with prosciutto, gouda, apples, and a balsamic reduction, served on a croissant. 

If you’re here for afternoon tea, there’s an imaginative array of pastries, including pumpkins and white chocolate scones.

15. Fantasy of Flight

Fantasy of FlightSource: Michel Curi / Flickr
Fantasy Of Flight

Just north of Auburndale, Fantasy of Flight is a seasonal aviation museum with exhibits spanning the years before World War I up to the present time.

Kermit Week, the founder and owner, has amassed an astonishing collection. There are more than 100 aircraft in this inventory, many of which are still airworthy.

A lot of these machines are on loan or in storage, and only a fraction can be seen at the display hangar. On my visit there were around two dozen aircraft, with a focus on WWI-era biplanes. 

Still, for aviation buffs, there’s no better place to spend a couple of hours. When I compiled this list, Fantasy of Flight was open Friday through Sunday, outside the summer months.

15 Best Things to Do in Auburndale (FL):

  • Auburndale City Park
  • Auburndale TECO Trail
  • International World Market
  • Lake Myrtle Sports Park
  • Auburndale City Fest
  • Baynard House Museum
  • Elite Cable Park
  • Lake Ariana Park
  • Peebles Bar-B-Que
  • Camp Margaritaville Auburndale
  • Marshall Hampton Reserve
  • Auburndale Speedway
  • The Shake Shoppe
  • Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro
  • Fantasy of Flight