Here’s an easy way to plan your next trip to Central Florida – 50+ Ways to Experience Lakeland & Winter Haven. This list actually includes all of Polk County, including Lake Wales, Bartow and more. Whether you are visiting Central Florida’s Polk County or have lived here for more than a decade, discover the more than 50 places and activities that we think everyone should experience.
Polk County’s MUST-SEE Attractions
Bok Tower Gardens
Inspiring visitors with Olmsted gardens, a majestic bell tower, carillon concerts and El Retiro Mansion, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales features daily concerts, nature walks and special events. The Gardens’ Outdoor Kitchen and Children’s Garden are just two of the many reasons locals should revisit this historic attraction. Plan to enjoy lunch at the Café and stop in the gift shop. Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
Dedicated to families with children ages 2 to 12, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is a 150-acre interactive theme park with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular LEGO® models and other interactive elements.
Circle B Bar Reserve
Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland includes freshwater marshes, hardwood swamps, oak hammocks, creeks and lakes are found on this property, which is home to waterfowl, ospreys, eagles and alligators.
Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture at Florida Southern College
The campus of Florida Southern College, located in Lakeland, contains the world’s largest collection (13 structures!) of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Tours begin at the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center.
Lake Wales’ Spook Hill has gained worldwide notoriety as one of the most potentially haunted locations in existence, and visitors come from around the world to park their cars at the bottom and experience the mysterious force that seems to defy gravity as it pushes their car to the top of the hill.
Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College
Discover one of Florida’s top ten art museums, Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, featuring a diverse exhibition schedule, dynamic event calendar, and comprehensive educational programming in Lakeland.
Ridge Island Groves
Enjoy fresh juice, oranges, marmalade, orange ice cream, and a grove tour with “You Pick” citrus at the family-owned and operated Ridge Island Groves in Haines City.
Safari Wilderness in Lakeland offers a stunning 260 acres of pristine wilderness filled with wetland exotic species, and a unique camping experience.
LEGOLAND® Water Park
LEGOLAND® Water Park in Winter Haven features more than four million LEGO bricks while offering interactive water play fun for the entire family.
Florida Children’s Museum
Lakeland’s Florida Children’s Museum offers a fun-filled museum experience for the young with hands-on art and science exhibits and programs.
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo
Yes, that’s a Teepee! Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo in Lake Wales is Florida’s only luxury glamping ranch. While on property, you’ll find everything the family needs for some good old-fashioned dude ranch fun. Enjoy horseback riding, a Saturday night rodeo, trap and skeet shooting, airboat rides, fishing, and much more.
SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo
If you’re visiting Lakeland in late March or early April, make plans to attend SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, the 2nd largest aviation event in the United States.
Outdoor Experiences, Including Golf & a Boat Cruise
Golfers of all abilities will have no problem finding course options to suit their game, as Polk County features 34 public-access courses offering a total of 648 holes of golf surrounded by natural scenery including the critically-acclaimed Streamsong Resort as well as The Club at Eaglebrooke in Lakeland, and Southern Dunes in Haines City.
Lakeland’s Minor League Baseball team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, play their home games at Joker Marchant Stadium April-August, which also doubles as the Detroit Tigers’ spring training home and have been the High-A affiliate of the Tigers since 1967, one of the two longest unbroken affiliate relationships currently existing
The Living Water Boat Cruises
Book at scenic tour of Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes with The Living Water Boat Cruises. Watch LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s water ski show from a boat, or take a sunset cruise and enjoy a lakeside dinner at Harborside.
Bonnet Springs Park
Walk through and enjoy the 168 acres of this free park in Lakeland, FL. Highlights of Bonnet Springs Park include the Kiwinis Kid’s Treehouse, the Crenshaw Canopy Walk, and the Florida Children’s Museum.
If you’re here in January or February, check out one of our many BBQ festivals. Our 3 biggest festivals are Lakeland Pigfest, Smoke on the Water and Ribs on the Ridge.
Paddleboard Winter Haven offers private paddleboard parties, corporate “board” meetings, paddleboard adventure trips, and Paddlefit workouts.
Colt Creek State Park
Colt Creek State Park in Lakeland offers over 12 miles of beautiful, multi-use trails which make for great horse-back riding, hiking and biking opportunities.
Visit a U-Pick Farm
Of course you know about our vast amounts of citrus groves, but our farmers grow blueberries and peaches too. U-Pick season usually runs from mid to late-March and ends in May. Check our blog post about U-Pick season.
Rent kayaks from Off the Chain Kayak Company and explore Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes . OTC offers drop off and pick kayak service, so you can kayak on the lake closest to your hotel or vacation rental home.
Learn to Water Ski & Wakeboard
Get on the water at Elite Cable Park in Auburndale or Winter Haven Watersports. Guests can learn to waterski or wakeboard, go paddleboarding, and rent a jetski or kayak. You’ll have lots of options when you book.
Preston Aviation, Biplane Rides and Instruction
Established in 1994, Preston Aviation offers Biplane Rides and Tailwheel Instruction at the Winter Haven Municipal Airport. You can take a biplane rides in a Boeing Stearman and Piper J3 Cub.
Hollis Garden is home to more than 10,000 flowers and ornamental shrubs, shade trees, a Grand Staircase and Barnett Family Park, a kid-friendly play area, on the shores of Lake Mirror in Lakeland.
Abundant sunshine and pleasant temperatures allow for fishing in Polk County year-round on the region’s more than 550 lakes, including Lake Kissimmee. Book a day with TMC Guide Services go catch some fish!
Airboat rides are an excellent way to stay cool while experiencing nature in Polk County with a number of different companies that offer airboat rides.
Rent a pontoon boat from Marine Supply and explore Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes.
Bone Valley ATV Park
Polk County’s only ATV Park, Bone Valley, is a 200-acre tract of land with 15 trails ranging in difficulty from leisurely to advanced.
Waldo Wright’s Flying Service
Waldo Wright’s Flying Service offers a variety of vintage biplane experiences. Passengers can travel back to the 1930s to enjoy an authentic barnstorming ride in a New Standard D-25, or the 1940s for a more hands-on WWII adventure at the controls of a Boeing Stearman N2S-3.
Explore our Arts Scene
For great theatrical performances try Polk County community theatres such as the Ramon Theater in Frostproof, Lakeland Community Theatre in Lakeland, Polk Theatre in Lakeland, Lake Wales Little Theatre, and Theatre Winter Haven.
Silver Moon Drive-In
Lakeland’s first drive-in theatre, and Polk County’s only remaining drive-in theatre, offers two screens with a double feature viewing seven nights a week.
Historic Polk Theatre was built in 1928 and features an annual live performing arts series as well as weekend film screenings and special events.
RP Funding Center Events
The RP Funding Center is Central Florida’s premier entertainment, sports and convention complex with over 100,000 square feet of flexible space and hosts events of all kinds throughout the year.
Murals in Lakeland, Winter Haven and Lake Wales
We have blog posts dedicated to Instagram worthy murals around Polk County. Be sure to tag @visitcentralfl when you post your photos!
Lakeland Symphony Orchestra Concert
This community orchestra has made it their mission to entertain, educate and inspire audiences in Lakeland. Experience a Lakeland Symphony Orchestra concert at RP Funding Center or Florida Southern College.
Wonder House Tours
The Wonder House is a private residence in Bartow that offers historic tours. The current owners have been restoring the property since 2015. The rebuilding and remodeling was covered by episode 9 of the Netflix show Amazing Interiors.
We Have Many History Museums
Polk County History Center
Located inside Bartow’s historic Old Polk County Courthouse, Polk Country History Center features the latest artifacts and historical information about Polk County. The History Center features permanent collections, unique showcases, special events, educational opportunities, and volunteer programs.
Lake Wales History Museum
Lake Wales History Museum will give you the inside track on this area’s history and heritage. You’ll walk through exhibits set inside a building built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1928.
Mulberry Phosphate Museum
Dig for sharks teeth at Mulberry Phosphate Museum. Did you know Mulberry is known as the phosphate capitol of the world? This museum houses an outstanding collection of fossilized remains, area memorabilia and educational exhibits.
Florida Air Museum
Step back in time with an extensive collection of Howard Hughes memorabilia including rare artifacts such as models of the “Spruce Goose” and some of Hughes’ personal flight suits, medals and trophies at the Florida Air Museum located at the Aerospace Center for Excellence in Lakeland.
Homeland Heritage Park
Homeland Heritage Park is home to several original structures from 19th century pioneer life in Florida, including an 1800s farmhouse, school and church.
Alafia River Rendezvous
A visit to Homeland Heritage Park pairs well with Alafia River Rendezvous, the southeast’s largest pre-1840s living history encampment. This annual event takes place in January.
L.B. Brown House Museum
L.B. Brown House Museum is a place to experience the work of former slave Lawrence Brown, who became a highly successful business leader.
Fantasy of Flight Museum
View an array of vintage aircraft from the world’s largest collection at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City. Guests are able to get up-close to a 1944 B-24J Liberator, 1945 North American P-51D Mustang and 1945 Grumman Duck.
Unique Shops in Central Florida
Stable Home Décor and The Back Porch
Make a day out of your visit to The Stable Home Decor in Lake Alfred, with shops that include The Barn Antiques, The Stable, The Seasons Gift Shop and The Back Yard Garden Shop, and enjoy a quaint lunch at The Back Porch Restaurant.
Davidson of Dundee
Davidson of Dundee makes 4,000 pounds of marmalade and 3,600 pounds of candies daily during the season. This candy shop/factory that has been featured on the Food Network and offers free factory tours.
Florida’s Natural Grove Store
You’ll be amazed by how many citrus-themed products you can find at Florida’s Natural Grove Store. Orange Blossom perfume, lotion, soap and more. Scarves and jewelry dotted with oranges. Citrus themed home decor – including a huge variety of citrus themed Christmas tree ornaments. Bring the kids too! The Grove House features a mini museum that explains the history of Polk County’s citrus industry.
Webb’s Candy Shop
From their famous goat’s milk fudge to their unique citrus candies and factory tours, Webb’s Candy Shop in Davenport is a fascinating experience for children and adults alike.
Lang’s Sun Country Groves and Taste of Florida Café
A family business that first began as a Florida Grove retail shop and shipper in 1951 expanded to include Taste of Florida Cafe 53 years later that features Lang’s award-winning grapefruit pie. It’s been featured on Food Network!
Because You’re in Polk County
Publix Apron’s Cooking School
DYK the very first Publix store was located in Winter Haven? Yep, it’s one of our big claims to fame. We are home to Publix Corporate Headquarters, so it’s fitting that we think you should attend Publix Apron’s Cooking School. Classes include Pairing Topics, Cooking Techniques, Couples Classes, Regional Cuisines, Kids and Teens Topics and more.
Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team Show
The Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team was reestablished in 2012 by former theme park employees and has returned with a new home on Winter Haven’s Lake Silver and free shows monthly on the third Saturday.
Plan Your Visit
Check out the Stay section of our website to find local hotels, resorts, vacation rentals homes and campgrounds.