Welcome to Lakeland, the Ideal College Town

What is there to do in Lakeland?

Whether you’re a thrill seeker, an outdoor enthusiast, a sports fanatic or history buff, there’s no shortage of weekend activities to be found in the Lakeland area. Located in the heart of Central Florida halfway between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland is a city rich with history, natural beauty and entertainment for all ages.

When you decide to make Florida Poly your next home, you immerse yourself in a region known for its abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery. With 554 freshwater lakes occupying more than 135 square miles, Central Florida is a prime location for fishing, boating and watersports such as wakeboarding and water skiing. Additionally, over 120 scenic trails wind through state parks and offer spectacular views of Florida’s native wildlife and unique terrain.

You don’t need to wander too far from Florida Poly’s campus to gain a history lesson, explore art or just enjoy a day of fun. Lakeland locals often visit attractions such as the LEGOLAND Florida Resort, the vibrant Bok Tower Gardens and the exotic Safari Wilderness park for a quick and exciting local trip. The Polk Museum of Art, the Ramon Theater and the Lake Wales Arts Center are also nearby to offer visitors a taste of Central Florida’s lively culture, fine arts and history.

With Florida Poly’s prime location in Lakeland, all of Florida’s top destinations are just a short drive away. Quick day trips to Florida’s Gulf Coast are perfect for enjoying sunny beaches, attending major sporting events and exploring the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg. In neighboring Orlando, premier theme parks, shopping outlets, a bustling city and easy access to an international airport are all conveniently nearby. A quick drive farther east of Orlando brings you to Florida’s Space Coast, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

With easy access to the best shopping malls, theme parks, international airports, cruise ports, historical sites and natural parks Florida has to offer on either coast, Lakeland is an ideal location for college. What’s even better? With Florida’s warm, sunny weather, you can explore these opportunities and enjoy the outdoors year-round.

A Look at the Culture

Welcome to the city of Lakeland. Located in the heart of Florida between Orlando and Tampa Bay, the city is known for its more than 38 beautiful lakes.

Lakeland’s cultural side encompasses not only its many bodies of water, but also outdoor attractions, theme parks, a walkable downtown, unique dining experiences, sports and events. From large Lake Parker to City Hall’s Lake Mirror Park, this town is surrounded by beauty with a surprisingly rich history.

Visit the vibrant Hollis Garden, a breathtaking neoclassical garden which houses more than 10,000 flowers, indigenous plants, and a Grand Staircase for you to explore at no charge. Hollis Garden also features a family park with kid-friendly play areas and a picnic pavilion. After you’ve wandered through the gardens, it’s time to explore the historic arts throughout all of the Antique districts. Come discover the specialty shops, art galleries, museums, restaurants and pubs, all centered in downtown Lakeland.

A perfect example of Lakeland’s surprising history includes their stunning swans, one of the most visible features on the lakes. Their appearance dates back to the 1920’s, but by 1954, the swans were disappearing due to larger predators. A Lakeland resident mourning the passing of the swans wrote to Queen Elizabeth, and the royal family responded by sending over two of their royal swans. Today, the swans on the lakes of Lakeland are all descendants of royalty.

Top 8 Reasons Lakeland is a Great Place to Attend College

  1. You’ll live where other students take their spring break vacation. The beautiful sunsets and picturesque scenery you see on postcards can be found in your very own backyard. Florida Poly’s location between the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast gives you plenty of opportunities to discover your favorite beach and soak up the Florida sunshine.
  2. You’ll be centrally located. Lakeland, Florida—otherwise known as Florida Poly’s home—sits right between the metropolitan areas of Tampa and Orlando and is just a short driving distance away from either city.
  3. You’ll be located along Florida’s High-Tech Corridor. Central Florida is a region often referred to as Florida’s technology hub, meaning that internship opportunities are plentiful for Florida Poly college students.
  4. You’ll never have a dull moment. Hot air balloon rides, skydiving, sporting events, airboat tours, hiking, shopping, relaxation–no matter what your hobby is, you can find it in Lakeland and the surrounding Central Florida area.
  5. You’ll be surrounded by world-famous destinations. From St. Augustine–the nation’s oldest permanently occupied European settlement–to Miami, you’ll be within a short traveling distance to some of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida.
  6. You’ll never run out of theme parks to visit. People travel from all over the world to visit Central Florida’s many theme parks, including Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios and Tampa’s Busch Gardens.
  7. You’ll become a diehard sports fan. Central Florida is home to several professional sports teams, including the increasingly popular Orlando City and Pride soccer teams. You can also take a trip down the road to Tampa, where you can attend one of the many professional hockey, football, baseball or soccer events held throughout the year.
  8. An international getaway is just down the road. Your tropical vacation awaits. Cruises leave from ports in Tampa, Cape Canaveral, and Miami year-round for destinations in the Caribbean, Central America and more. Ferries leaving from Miami also offer day trips to the Bahamas for short but sweet vacations.

Regional Attractions

If you ever feel the need to take a trip outside of Lakeland, you have access to two international airports and two popular cruise ports (Tampa and Cape Canaveral). Moreover, Lakeland is located along Florida’s High-Tech Corridor, which is home to more than 11,000 high-tech businesses. Whether it’s world-class theme parks you’re headed to (Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens), professional NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB sports games, or award-winning beaches, they’re all within a quick day’s drive.

Still not in love with Lakeland’s charm and convenience? Here are the top six things to know about the area:

  1. Lakeland has 35 schools, including public, private and charter options
  2. Polk County is home to more than 600,000 residents
  3. Florida’s High-Tech Corridor is home to 11,000 high-tech businesses
  4. Lakeland is home to four universities and one state college
  5. There is no state income tax in Florida
  6. According to Zillow.com, home values in Lakeland have risen 14.3 percent on average over the past year and are expected to rise 4.9 percent next year (noted 10/24/14)

Other awesome things to do in Central Florida:

Come see for yourself why Lakeland and central Florida continue to rank among the best places to live and work.

Mild Temps

On any given day, you will find Lakeland is an active town with average temperatures between 82° and a low of 64°. People are out and about walking alongside the lake fronts, fishing, boating, shopping and socializing in downtown, and of course, enjoying the many unique characteristics of their city. Please don’t be fooled by the smaller size of Lakeland. This land of lakes’ heart is bigger than any sky-scraping city, and you will find the people of Lakeland to be warm, welcoming and eager for your arrival.

More Great Resources to Learn About All Central Florida Has to Offer

  • ylakeland.com: A go-to resource, kept up to date by local residents, for things to do around Lakeland, from art and concerts to food and shopping. YLakeland is focused on helping connect students and young professionals with the community and assets that Lakeland has to offer.
  • visitcentralflorida.org: Discover all that Central Florida’s Polk County has to offer, including family-friendly attractions, wildlife, nightlife, museums and more.