Auburndale is a small city in central Florida’s Polk County that had a population of about 13,000 residents at the time of the last census.
Located between Tampa to the southwest and Orlando to the northeast, it is relatively equidistant from the state’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The central portion of the state around Auburndale is known for its abundance of lakes, and it’s near to many of Florida’s largest theme park attractions, state and national parks, and historic attractions as well.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Auburndale, Florida, that rank high on many visitors’ itineraries.
1. Baynard House Museum
The Baynard House Museum on West Lake Avenue in Auburndale has been included on the National Register of Historic places for nearly a decade; it’s one of the most well-preserved historic attractions of its kind in the area.
The house was once the residence of Auburndale’s founder, and for first-time visitors, there’s no better place to get a thorough insight into the area’s past, culture, and development.
The home and museum can be toured by appointment, and the facility hosts a number of special events throughout the year as well, so check online for their hours and calendar of events.
2. Auburndale TECO Trail
For much of the year, central Florida’s climate is absolutely perfect for being outdoors, and the Auburndale TECO Trail is a convenient option for those who want to enjoy nature and burn a few calories without driving to a distant park.
The multi-use trail system stretches for nearly ten miles and has various entry points around town.
The trails are open to walkers, runners, and bikers, and dogs are okay as long as they’re kept on leashes and cleaned up after. The trails are open year-round, are free to use, and there is plenty of parking near each of the trailheads.
3. International World Market
Located on US Highway 92 in Auburndale, International World Market is part farmer’s market and part flea market, and 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. Most visitors end up staying longer than they’d originally intended.
On weekends, the market features a variety of events, including live entertainment and even animal 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. Peebles Bar-B-Que
For more than seven decades, Peebles Bar-B-Que has been an Auburndale institution. Though it has grown quite a bit from its humble beginnings, it has stubbornly clung to the principles that made it so popular in the first place.
The restaurant is located on Old Dixie Highway and features a full menu of traditional barbecue items like pulled pork, sausage, sliced beef, and ribs.
Peebles is known for its reasonable prices and relaxed atmosphere. Though it’s probably not a good fit for those worried about cholesterol and excess calories, for hungry travelers looking for an authentic taste of the old south, there are few better options.
5. Auburndale City Park
Previous guests to Auburndale City Park have described it as clean, safe, well-manicured, and just plain fun.
Auburndale City Park is located on East Park Street and is just a few easily walkable blocks south of the Baynard House Museum.
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 wide-open spaces, there are playgrounds with a variety of equipment.
There are plenty of covered seating areas, and many guests choose to bring a few sandwiches and drinks and have a picnic as well.
6. Auburndale Speedway
Auburndale Speedway is definitely not for the faint of heart.
It features loud engines, screeching tires, and screaming fans. Though some guests insist that earplugs are a necessity, it’s one of the area’s most exhilarating attractions for both diehard race fans and casual observers alike.
The speedway’s season generally lasts from February until November, and there are a huge number of distinct classes.
Speedway parking is free, and their concessions provide plenty of tasty food that’s similar to what you’d find at a ballpark, just a lot cheaper.
The speedway is located on East County Road 542 in nearby Winter Haven.
7. Lake Myrtle Sports Complex
For sheer concentration of sports-related amenities, there’s no surpassing the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex.
Featuring nine baseball fields, eleven standard soccer fields, and one championship-style soccer arena, 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. The complex is also home to the Polk County Sports Hall of Fame, which gives guests a unique insight into the area’s rich sporting history.
There are a variety of food and drink vendors on-site, and ample parking and restrooms too.
8. Hollis Garden
Though it covers just more than an acre, Hollis Garden is one of the area’s most beautiful attractions and is free to visit.
Located in East Orange Street in nearby Lakeland, the ground was deeded to the city by a local family under the condition that it would remain undeveloped.
The garden’s main attractions are its thousands of species of plants, trees, and flowers of both native and exotic origin. The grounds include fountains, koi ponds, and a scenic lake that’s aptly named Lake Mirror, because its glassy waters reflect the garden’s vibrant colors perfectly.
9. Joker Marchant Stadium
Florida’s Major League Baseball spring training season is often referred to as The Grapefruit League, after Florida’s citrus industry, and Joker Marchant Stadium on North Lake Avenue in Lakeland is the spring home of the Detroit Tigers.
Though it’s been around since the ‘60s, the stadium has undergone a number of improvements and renovations over the years. It’s now a world-class facility that’s the perfect place to catch a game or two.
The stadium hosts teams from all over the country during spring play, and compared to major league venues, the tickets, food, and memorabilia prices are much less expensive.
10. Lakeland Pigfest
Since 1997, the Lakeland Pigfest has been a popular attraction that combines great food, a fun and family-friendly environment, and a focus on providing financial assistance to local charities.
Pigfest is a barbecue competition that features more than 140 teams from all over the state and region, and it all takes place over a long weekend in January.
Teams compete in a variety of categories; in addition to classic barbecue done dozens of different ways, the event includes live entertainment and a variety of kid’s activities.
Pigfest is one of those events that’s usually one of the most memorable experiences of many visitor’s trips.
11. Lake Hollingsworth
Lakeland’s Lake Hollingsworth is one of the area’s largest lakes and is a premier recreation attraction for outdoor-minded locals and visitors.
A scenic walking trail skirts the lake’s perimeter and winds its way past a marina, college campus, and a variety of pristine natural habitats.
The lake’s parks often host live events and festivals at different times of the year, and there’s a popular regatta that’s held annually as well.
The lake is also home to a variety of freshwater game fish, especially largemouth bass, which have been known to grow to epic proportions in the region’s balmy subtropical weather.
12. The Explorations V Children’s Museum
The Explorations V Children’s Museum has been around since 1991, and it’s Polk County’s most comprehensive interactive museum.
The museum’s interactive exhibits touch on science, the natural world, history, art, and technology. Though it’s a kid-centered attraction, parents usually wind up having a great time too.
The museum is spread over three floors, and most of the activities and exhibits have been designed for children ranging from toddlers through to 5th grade.
Teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity are all encouraged, and with such an engaging and educational lineup, it’s no wonder that the museum hosts tens of thousands of visitors annually.
13. LEGOLAND Florida
Winter Haven’s LEGOLAND Florida theme park is a unique area attraction that’s part amusement park, part museum, and part factory. Here, kids create masterpieces using the iconic LEGO blocks that have been around for ages.
The park includes several on-site lodging and dining options, a live-entertainment venue, and more activities than nearly any other place in the area. It’s all conveniently located an easy drive from Auburndale.
The park has been set up to keep wait times for rides to a minimum, and there are plenty of places where adults can sit and relax with a refreshing drink too.
14. Colt Creek State Park
Colt Creek State Park has a variety of activity options and amenities that keep many outdoorsy types coming back time and time again.
The park’s extensive network of multi-use trails is open to walkers, runners, bikers, and horseback riders, and there are many natural habitats that are home to a diverse array of animals.
It’s not uncommon to see deer, eagles, snakes, and even bobcats from the trails, especially during the morning and evening hours when they’re usually most active.
Primitive campsites are available as well, and there is a variety of freshwater game fish in the park’s lakes.
15. Fantasy of Flight
Located on Broadway Boulevard SE in nearby Polk City, Fantasy of Flight is a unique aviation attraction; its exhibits span the years before World War I up until the present time.
The founder and owner’s collection of renovated airplanes is world-class, and many of them still regularly fly at airshows on location and around the country.
For aviation buffs, there’s no better place to spend a few hours. There are many interactive exhibits that include flight and paratrooper simulators that are always big hits.
Fantasy of Flight is an attraction that has a way of wowing old and young visitors alike.