Located in west-central Florida’s Hillsborough County between Tampa to the west and Lakeland to the east, at just 35,000 residents, Plant City is one of the region’s smaller towns and is particularly well-known for its strawberry festival, which has been a local attraction for nearly 90 years.
The town was named after a railroad developer and is one of the country’s largest winter strawberry producing areas.
Conveniently located within an easy drive of dozens of natural, historical, and cultural attractions, for much of the year, the weather is nearly perfect.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Plant City, Florida.
1. Dinosaur World
Interested in taking a trip back in time to an era when massive carnivorous lizards and terrifying raptors lurked around every corner?
Located on Harvey Tew Road in Plant City, Dinosaur World is an area icon that sits on 20 acres of land and includes full-size replicas of hundreds of dinosaurs; many of them feature robotics which makes them seem eerily alive.
Fossils, dinosaur eggs, ancient teeth, claws, and scales are on display, and many of Dinosaur World’s exhibits are interactive, so guests of all ages are encouraged to participate actively and not just view passively.
2. Edward Medard Regional Park
Plant City’s Edward Medard Regional Park is larger and draws more visitors than most parks do, but for nature-loving travelers, it’s still a great getaway destination, especially for those who’ve had it with the area’s more developed and commercial attractions.
At 700 acres, it’s the county’s largest park, and most of the land was donated to the town by a local company in the ‘70s.
Walking, fishing, biking, and canoeing are popular recreation activities within the park, and most of the trails and roads are paved, making them perfect for cyclers and inline skaters.
The park features dozens of campsites as well, but during peak season, they disappear quickly, so plan accordingly.
3. Keel & Curley Winery
Whether it’s red, white, or rose that tempts your taste buds, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at the Keel & Curley Winery on Thonotosassa Road in Plant City.
Keel & Curley is an award-winning wine producer specializing in fruit-infused wines that make their products’ flavor profiles refreshing and unique standouts.
On Saturdays and Sundays, four daily tours are offered. The price per person is less than you’d pay for a microwave burrito and a fountain drink at a convenience store.
Tours include samples and a thorough insight into how mundane grapes are transformed into tasty and intoxicating beverages.
4. Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum
Railroads have always played significant roles in the development and economy of the Sunshine State – in many respects, they still do.
Located on North Palmer Street in Plant City, the Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum is a must-visit attraction for train and history buffs. Those traveling on a budget may feel the need to rejoice when they discover that it’s absolutely free to visit.
The museum’s exhibits include restored railcars, photographs, equipment, and first-hand accounts of significant historical events. There’s even a model rail yard that’s a favorite of children.
The museum is open seven days a week and is conveniently located close to other Plant City attractions.
5. Florida Strawberry Festival
The Florida Strawberry Festival was originally founded by the local Lions Club and has been going strong since 1929.
Plant City is one of the nation’s largest producers of winter strawberries, and the festival is a celebration of all things related to the tasty berry. In addition to a variety of amazing foods like pies and jellies, the festival features quite a lineup of live entertainment, livestock events, and even celebrity appearances.
Though you may have missed it this year, it all takes place again over ten days in February and March in 2020, so reserve some space on your itinerary.
6. Hollis Garden
Located on East Orange Street in nearby Lakeland, Hollis Garden is only slightly larger than an acre, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in splendor.
Featuring a variety of fountains, limestone grottos, and promenades that lead to each distinct area, Hollis Garden is the perfect escape destination for those in need of a little alone time with Mother Nature.
The garden features thousands of species of local, regional, and non-native plants, flowers and trees; many of them are marked with informative plaques so you’ll learn about the things you see as well. Perhaps its most beautiful feature is its free admission.
7. Jump Florida
For those who have a hard time doing math in their heads, 14,000 feet is just slightly less than three miles. That number is significant because it’s the height at which skydivers at Jump Florida plunge out of a perfectly good airplane and hurl toward the ground at speeds greater than 100-miles-per-hour.
Needless to say, it’s probably not a good fit for your Aunt Wanda from Harrisburg with a heart condition, but for fit and fearless adrenaline junkies, it’s an utterly exhilarating and safe way to get a bird’s eye view of the Plant City area.
Jump Florida’s packages are surprisingly inexpensive, so check out their website for specifics.
8. Mike E. Sansone Community Park
Though to outsiders the name Mike E. Sansone may not ring any bells, to locals, it’s synonymous with public service, patriotism, and community pride.
Located on nearly 80 acres near downtown, Mike E. Sansone Community Park is named after an Italian immigrant who came to Florida before World War I.
He went on to serve in the military, and when he came back, he opened a barber shop and became heavily involved in scouting.
The park offers visitors a variety of recreation options, one of the most popular is watching the many little league baseball games that take place here during the season.
9. Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center
Though it’s often referred to as the Usonian House, the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center is built around a structure on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland that was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
It’s not the only building designed by Wright on the campus, but it’s unique in that it wasn’t built until 2013, and the plans were originally created back in 1938.
Wright believed that traditional college architecture was an epic flop, and during the depression, he sought to breathe some new life into the otherwise bland scene.
The center is located on Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland, and guided tours are available.
10. Joker Marchant Stadium
‘The Grapefruit League’ is the nickname given to Florida’s spring training baseball season, when professional teams from all over the country descend on the Sunshine State to get in tip-top shape for the coming season.
Joker Marchant Stadium on North Lake Avenue in Lakeland is the spring home of the Detroit Tigers. Though it was built in the mid-‘60s, it has undergone numerous renovations over the years and now seats more than 8,000 fans in comfort.
A variety of per-game and season ticket options are available, and the stadium is accessible for those in wheelchairs and with other access needs as well.
11. The Florida Air Museum
Florida has a rich aviation history that dates back more than a century. Since the early ‘90s, the Florida Air Museum has been a premier destination for airplane enthusiasts and all-around history buffs.
The museum’s origins were modest, but over the years, it has grown and now includes a unique collection of restored planes as well as other equipment, photographs, and memorabilia relating to both civil and military aviation.
In addition to its permanent displays, the museum offers a range of educational programs at various times. For many visitors, both young and old, it’s one of the highlights of their trip.
12. The Polk Museum of Art
Located on East Palmetto Street in Lakeland, the Polk Museum of Art is Polk County’s most complete art museum and is an affiliate of the world-renowned Smithsonian Institute.
Of its more than 2,000 pieces, many are one of a kind creations done by famous artists like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.
The museum’s staff offers a variety of community programs as well; many of them are geared toward local school children and their teachers, with the hope of instilling a love of art and creativity in budding minds.
Check out their website for directions, prices, and a complete list of upcoming events.
13. Explorations V Children’s Museum
The Explorations V Children’s Museum on North Kentucky Avenue in Lakeland was founded in 1991 and is the area’s premier kid-centered museum.
Featuring three floors with a variety of interactive exhibits, it’s the kind of place that generally exceeds the expectations of those who take the time to visit.
Most of the museum was designed with grade school children in mind, but it’s educational and entertaining for older kids as well.
Exhibits and activities touch on the natural world, science, art, technology, and expressing oneself through creativity, so plan on spending a few hours to get the little ones their fill of fun.
14. Lake Morton Historic District
When visiting new areas and not sure how to occupy your time, local historic districts are great places to check out first.
They’re usually full of architecturally and historically significant homes and businesses, and the Lake Morton Historic District in Lakeland is no exception.
Located between Lakes Morton and Hollingsworth, the district is an excellent place for self-guided tours or just a casual morning or afternoon stroll.
Most of the neighborhood was constructed between the turn of the 20th century and the ‘20s, and many of the homes have been restored to near-original condition, so don’t forget your camera.
15. The Armature Works Heights Public Market
Entrance to the Armature Works Heights Public Market is free and it’s open daily, though its weekday and weekend hours vary.
The market consists of more than 20,000 feet of floor space, and though it’s located inside a building that’s more than 100 years old, it’s known as a hotspot for epicureans and those just looking to soak in the area’s historic ambiance.
The market’s shops and vendors carry a variety of items, and there’s no shortage of dining options; one firm favorite is the rooftop bar and eatery that often hosts live entertainment events.
Admission is free, but there’s a modest fee for parking on weekends.