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Lakeland, Florida, is located east of Tampa and is the largest city in Polk County. It’s named for the 38 gorgeous lakes in the area that is full of natural beauty. Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, there are plenty of fun things to do in Lakeland to keep you entertained.
Similar to Dunedin, Florida, Lakeland is another Florida gem that I feel doesn’t quite get the hype that it deserves. It’s easily one of my favorite day trips from Tampa, but you can also make it a weekend trip ;). From outdoor adventures to indoor activities, there are countless ways to make the most of your time here. Check out my Reel for how to spend the perfect day in Lakeland!
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Fun Things to do in Lakeland
Lake Mirror Park
If you’re looking for a fun and tranquil spot to spend the day, then Lake Mirror should definitely be on your list of things to do in Lakeland. Located right in the heart of downtown, this beautiful park is home to a large lake, walking trails, and a variety of recreational activities. The park is also home to several historic buildings, including the Lakeland Public Library and the Polk Museum of Art.
The centerpiece of the park is the lake itself, which makes for a peaceful stroll along its shoreline. Take in the sights of the water and make sure to look out for any birds or other wildlife that might be passing through. You’ll also find plenty of open grassy areas perfect for enjoying a picnic.
Hollis Garden is located along the Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror. Here you can find more than 10,000 flowers and shrubs, shade trees, and a beautiful grand staircase.
This 350-acre lake is located southeast of downtown Lakeland and offers several walking and biking trails. In addition, Lake Hollingsworth is home to many species of wildlife and plants, making it a great place to relax and observe nature. You’ll have the opportunity to spot local wildlife such as osprey, egrets, and more.
The area is also great for picnicking and adventuring. You can either bring your own kayak or paddle board or rent from a local company.
Go ax throwing
Have fun at Polk County’s largest and first ax throwing, virtual gun range, and restaurant. Ax-Caliber should be at the top of your list for the most fun things to do in Lakeland!
I was actually pretty nervous I was going to embarrass myself, and okay maybe I did a little bit initially. But once I got the hang of it (thanks to our amazing instructor Caleb), I was sticking it near the bullseye almost every time!
Ax-Caliber offers several different packages so you can choose the perfect one for your group. Prices start at just $25 per person and include an hour of ax throwing with an instructor who will give you tips and teach you the proper safety techniques.
This fun activity is great for group gatherings, corporate events, birthday parties, or even just a date night. Not only do you get to let loose with an axe, but you can also enjoy delicious food from their full menu and grab a drink from the bar.
They also offer a “Glow n Throw” where you get to throw neon-taped wrapped axes at neon-painted targets in blacklight-filled rooms!
The Yard on Mass
The Yard on Mass is an outdoor experience that recreates a backyard party with daily food trucks, beer on tap, wine, and craft cocktails. Food truck options rotate weekly and The Yard on Mass hosts different events and live shows for visitors to enjoy. This family-friendly venue is great for everyone!
The main area of The Yard on Mass offers games, live music, and art installations. Visitors can take part in a variety of activities such as cornhole, shuffleboard, table tennis, giant Jenga, and more. For those looking for a more relaxed experience, the yard also features outdoor seating areas where guests can relax and take in the scenery.
Experience some amazing Lakeland restaurants
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting around breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Lakeland has delicious options for any time of the day. A few of my favorite restaurants in Lakeland include Good Thyme (get their chicken biscuit for breakfast), Nineteen61 for lunch or dinner, and Cob and Pen for lunch or dinner. Make sure you get the full scoop on the interesting history of Cob and Pen while you’re there too!
Oh, and for the indecisive, The Joinery is a great spot! It’s a food hall similar to Sparkman Wharf and Armature Works.
Check out the bar scene
Lakeland, Florida offers several bars for the over twenty-one crowd. Several of these bars are scattered around the downtown area and are easy to hop between. If you’re looking for a fun night out on the town, you can’t go wrong with these favorites in Lakeland:
- Rec Room— This arcade is actually family-friendly until 9 PM when it turns 21+. Locals love this bar for its fun games like Guitar Hero, vintage arcades, and skeeball, as well as their fun and creative drinks. If you know me, you know this is exactly the type of bar I look for when I’m going out! It’s definitely a great bar if you’re looking to add some extra fun to your night.
- Revival Bar— This trendy cocktail bar is full of drink options. From an entire page dedicated to Old Fashioneds to plenty of seasonal offerings. Revival Bar also has a great happy hour with specials ranging from $4 wines to $7 cocktail favorites. The craft cocktail experience and atmosphere are something you aren’t going to want to miss.
- Federal Bar— This bar offers a beautiful exterior with a warehouse vibe in the interior. It had a very lively environment the Saturday we just so happened to enter. Upon opening the door the entire bar was singing along to Sweet Caroline at the top of their lungs and having the best time!
- Lakeland Loft— A glamorous bar that features live jazz every Friday and Saturday. Guests here can enjoy cigars and cocktails in a relaxed environment.
Go brewery hopping
Of course, you gotta check out some local brews while you’re in the area! At Brew Hub in Lakeland, you’ll find a craft beer brewing and packaging facility. There is a tasting room on-site where you can find beer on draft with wine, canned cocktails, hard seltzer, and cider. Guests can often find food trucks on-site if they’re hungry.
At the main location in downtown Lakeland, Swan Craft Brewing and Taproom hosts live events and food trucks for guests enjoying their drinks at the Taproom. There are 30 taps available, including 2 nitro lines. At the Swan Brewing South location, there are 16 taps available.
Circle B Bar Reserve
Located just north of Lakeland, the Circle B Bar Reserve is a great place to enjoy nature and get away from it all. The reserve is a 1,267-acre protected wildlife area and part of the Lakeland Chain of Lakes. It has been designated as a protected sanctuary and has a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems.
The reserve features 12 miles of hiking trails, bird-watching opportunities, and a variety of wildlife including alligators, otters, and wading birds. It’s open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Visitors can also go kayaking on the lake, take a pontoon boat ride, or enjoy one of the several fishing spots around the lake. The Visitor Center offers guided walks and other educational programs throughout the year.
Silver Moon Drive-In Theater
If you’re looking for an old-fashioned movie experience, the Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre has been providing a unique cinematic experience for more than 70 years. With two screens usually showing first-run movies with double features seven nights a week, there’s always something new and exciting to watch.
To get the full drive-in experience, make sure to arrive an hour before showtime on Friday or Saturday, and 30 minutes before showtime during the week. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, with prices set at $7 for ages 10 and up, $3 for ages 4-9, and free admission for those under 4 years old. There’s also a snack bar serving classic drive-in movie food like popcorn, candy, hot dogs, and more.
If you’re looking for a fun evening activity while in Lakeland, consider seeing a show at the historic Polk Theater. Located in downtown Lakeland, the Polk Theatre has been a popular entertainment destination since the 1930s. It is a true art deco gem and its Spanish-Mediterranean design makes it a special part of Lakeland’s history.
The Polk Theatre offers an array of shows, ranging from classical music to stand-up comedy. Prices to see a show vary based on the event, but tickets typically range from $20 – $50 per person. Additionally, there are special discounts available for students, seniors, and military personnel.
There are also a variety of special events held at the theatre throughout the year, such as movie screenings and open mic nights. The Polk Theatre has also hosted a variety of famous acts such as Ray Charles and Johnny Cash. You never know who you might catch on stage at this classic venue!
Take Advantage of The Many Cute Photo Ops
There are a bunch of great photo opportunities around Lakeland. Whether you’re looking for a casual selfie or more staged photos, this town has what you’re looking for!
The Color Wall at Haus 820 is a great stop, as this multi-color mural makes for a great photo backdrop. The Yard on Mass is right next door to The Color Wall and is also a great stop for cute photo ops and a drink. Check out all of the fun Lakeland murals!
Check Out a Market
Lakeland has several great outdoor markets and events where community members can shop at different vendors. Between Lakeland First Friday and the Downtown Farmers Curb Market on Saturdays, Lakeland is busy on the weekends.
The Downtown Farmers Curb Market is open every Saturday. This market has everything all from produce, art, furniture, food, jewelry, plants, herbs, and more!
On the first Friday of every month, downtown Lakeland shuts down the streets for the First Friday events where locals and visitors come to enjoy car shows, a market with crafters and artisans, and over 60 exhibitors. Each month has a different theme!
Lakeland, Florida is full of things to do between fun bars, outdoor activities, and unique adventures like ax throwing. No matter what you are looking to do, there is something for you here.