Located on Interstate 4 in the heart of Central Florida, Lakeland is a gem in the Sunshine State that often gets overlooked in favor of the amusement parks and beaches the state has to offer.
But nowhere in Florida is the natural beauty of the state more on display. The area features many attractions that will get you closer to nature or, in one famous case, up in the sky.
Of course, you can always stay at home and create your own event. Central Florida is home to party rental companies where you can find water slides, bounce houses and carnival games to meet your entertainment needs.
But if you are heading out, consider some of these attractions.
Named after the cattle ranch that was once in the area, the Circle B Bar Reserve is now a protected environmental area maintained by Polk County. The reserve has been restored and much of the natural properties of the Banana Creek marsh system are in good health. Now you can walk through the reserve and see an amazing number of birds – including osprey, wading birds and bald eagles – as well as other animals, such as alligators.
The Fantasy of Flight features a museum of more than 100 vintage aircraft – one of the largest such collections in the world. It also offers the chance to you to ride in a real bi-plane. On the new Standard D-25, you and your family can enjoy a 15-minute flight over the fields and orange groves in the lake country.
A beautiful place for an evening walk, Hollis Garden is a botanic garden set among neo-classical buildings on a site lush with perfectly manicured gardens.
If you are into baseball, Joker Marchant Stadium is a great place to catch a game. A small, intimate venue that gets you close to the game, the stadium is home to the minor league Lakeland Tigers and the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers. There’s plenty of cold beer, sodas, popcorn, hot dogs and peanuts to enjoy, as well as the beautiful Central Florida weather.
Check the site for events – there is always something happening at the Lakeland Center, from the Miss Florida pageant to boat shows and massive flea markets. Among the attractions is also the opportunity to ice skate in the middle of the summer.
This museum focuses on art made by Floridians, or art made in Florida by visiting artists. The collection also mirrors the diversity of artists and art subjects within the state, including works by Cuban American, African American and Asian American artists.
No matter what you choose, Lakeland may very well surprise you with the variety of attractions it offers, as well as the natural beauty of Central Florida.