Staff Picks – Spend the Day Outside

By: Jessica Roberts

Fresh air does a body good. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our staff’s favorite ways to spend the day outside.

Your choices are endless when you visit Central Florida – from hiking or cycling to shopping at a outdoor market or simply cruising on our popular chain of lakes in Winter Haven, we’ve got plenty of ways for folks to soak up Vitamin D.

In no particular order, here’s our favorite ways to spend the day outside.

Downtown Farmers Curb Market


One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture is at the local farmers market and Lakeland just so happens to have a fantastic one. You’ll find four blocks vendors offering fresh produce, plants and locally handcrafted items including coffee, pastries, cheese, soaps, hats and handbags. Downtown Farmers Curb Market, an 11-month market (closed in August), is a showcase for the talents and the work of local artisans and growers.

Safari Wilderness

Embark on an unforgettable expedition into Florida’s Green Swamp at Safari Wilderness in Lakeland. Hop up on a camel or safari vehicle to see more than 400 species of animals including elands, zebra and ring-tailed lemurs.

Poster Image for Central Florida Attraction - Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland, Florida

Circle B Bar Reserve


Where can you see alligators during your next Central Florida vacation? Forget Gatorland! You’ll find plenty of alligators living in their natural habitat at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.  As one of Central Florida’s best places to enjoy our great weather Circle B offers six miles of marked trails throughout the 1,267-acre preserve. Circle B is also a popular spot for birding.

Poster Image for Baby alligators soak up the sun at Circle B Bar Reserve

Living Water Boat Cruises

Winter Haven

Enjoy a scenic boat tour on the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes with Rue Denton and Living Water Boat Cruises. Watch LEGOLAND Florida‘s water ski show from the water, take a sunset cruise and enjoy a lakeside dinner at Harborside, or create your own excursion.

Poster Image for Touring Winter Haven, Florida with The Living Water Boat Cruise

Running at Holloway Park


Holloway Park is a lush, green oasis located in southeast Lakeland — a place to escape, a park with natural beauty everywhere you look, a park with no houses, just woods, trees, meadows, and birds. The trails are not only the best in town, but they’re some of the best in the state for running. The Park hosts many regional and state cross country events throughout the year.

Holloway Park

Holloway Park

Paddleboard Winter Haven

Winter Haven

Paddleboard Winter Haven’s primary goal for every lesson and tour is to provide the best service and area expertise in Winter Haven. Though they specialize in teaching first timers how to SUP, they also offer private stand up paddleboard parties, corporate “board” meetings, Paddle fit workouts and SUP adventure trips. Paddleboard Winter Haven is a mobile business and can meet you at numerous lakes around town.

Poster Image for Visiting Winter Haven, Florida - Paddleboard Winter Haven

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Park

Haines City

Wander through 8,000 acres that protect seven plant species at Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Park in Haines City. Catfish Creek State Park is just one of three state parks in Polk County. The scrub habitat preserved here also represents one of Florida’s oldest natural landscapes. This state park offers more than six miles of trails for hiking, seven miles of equestrian trails and exceptional views of the Lake Wales Ridge and wildlife. What makes this hiking spot our favorite? The terrain – don’t expect flat trails! Bring lots of water because you’ll be hiking through sand and up and down small hills.

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Park

Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek State Park

Walking Lake Hollingsworth


Commonly referred to as the Living Room of Lakeland, this popular lake features a 2.8 mile path with great opportunities for people watching as well as viewing Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

Lake Hollingsworth Runners

Lake Hollingsworth Runners

Bok Tower Gardens

Lake Wales

No Central Florida vacation would be complete without a trip to historic Bok Tower Gardens, where you can rest your body and rejuvenate your spirit in a spot of beauty second to none in the country. Located in Lake Wales among Central Florida’s rolling hills of citrus, this must see historic gem has been inspiring visitors for more than 80 years.

Poster Image for Central Florida Attraction - Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida

Cycling – Mountain and Road

Throughout Polk County 

Mountain bikers and roadies have many options in Central Florida. We’ve got tough trails, daily group rides and great bike shops. Bring your bike or rent one when you arrive.

Loyce Harpe Park

Loyce Harpe Park
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