- For other places with the same name, see Lakeland (disambiguation).
Lakeland was first settled by European-Americans in the 1870s and began to develop as the rail lines reached the area in 1884. It was incorporated 1 January 1885. The town was founded by Abraham Munn (a resident of Louisville, Kentucky), who purchased 80 acres (320,000 m²) of land in what is now downtown Lakeland in 1882 and platted the land for the town in 1884. Among the names considered (and rejected) for the town by its residents were Munnsville, Red Bug and Rome City.
In April 1898, the Spanish-American War began and started a crucial point in Lakeland's development. While the war ended quickly and had little impact on most of the nation, the Florida peninsula was used as a launch point for the war and the then small town of Lakeland would house over 9,000 troops.
The Florida boom resulted in the construction of many significant structures in Lakeland, a number of which are today listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This list includes the Terrace Hotel, New Florida Hotel (Regency Tower, now Lake Mirror Tower), Polk Theatre, Promenade of Lake Mirror, Polk Museum of Art (not a product of the 1920s boom), Park Trammell Building (formerly the Lakeland Public Library and today the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), and others. The city also has several historic districts with many large buildings built during the 1920s and 1940s. The Cleveland Indians held spring training there from 1923 to 1927 at Henley Field Ball Park. Parks were developed surrounding Lake Mirror including Barnett Children's Park, Hollis Gardens, and the newest, Allen Kryger Park.
The "boom" period went "bust" quickly, and years passed before the city recovered. Part of the re-emergence was due to the arrival of the Detroit Tigers in 1934 for spring training. (The team continues to train at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium and owns the city's Florida State League team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.) The development of the Lakeland Municipal Airport as a major facility in central Florida transportation was another factor. The 1930s also featured the arrival of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1938 he came to Lakeland at the request of Florida Southern College President Ludd Spivey to design a "great education temple in Florida." For 20 years Wright worked on his "true American campus" creation. In his original master plan he called for 18 buildings (and several other structures), nine of which were completed and nine left on the drawing board. All of the buildings were built out of what Wright called his "textile block system," the first use of such a system in Florida. He called his project "A Child of the Sun," so named from the architect's own description of being "out of the ground, into the light, a child of the sun." It is the largest one-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world, and in many ways helped to form a pattern for many colleges in Florida and other areas of the country in the future years.
Lakeland—like all of Central Florida—has a humid, subtropical climate. Summers are generally hot and humid, with highs above 90°F from May-September although, oddly enough, the temperature seldom surpasses about 96°F (which results in a month like July, where the average high is 95°F and the all-time record for the month is just 5° higher at 100°F). Early morning lows are usually in the mid-70s °F (around 23°C) but the humidity is usually around 90-100% at sunrise, so mornings can be steamy. Beginning in early or mid-June, the rainy season lasts until mid to late September, during which time thunderstorms (sometimes severe) are a regular afternoon event. June, July, & August average over 7 in (178 mm) of rain per month, with September falling to a respectable 6.33 in (161 mm) of rain. Winters are mild with average highs in the 70s °F (around 22-25°C) and lows in the 50s °F (around 11-15°C). Highs may occasionally surpass 80°F (27°C), while lows in the 40s (5-10°C) aren't uncommon. Winter weather is punctuated by occasional cold fronts, which can knock highs into the 60s °F (16-20°C) or even 50s °F (11-15°C) and night-time lows into the 40s °F (5-10°C) and 30s °F (0-4°C). Lows below freezing (32°F, 0°C) occur, on average, just twice a year (very rarely below 28°F/-2°C). Spring and fall are transitional seasons between summer/winter temperatures. February-May are the driest months of the year, averaging 2-3 in (50-80 mm) of rain, but in drier years these months may see less than 0.5 in (13 mm) of rain.
Lakeland can be impacted by tropical storms and hurricanes during Hurricane Season (1 Jun-30 Nov). Tropical storms in Central Florida can bring heavy rains (several inches in a 24 hour or less time span) and potentially a squall line. As with any storm, there is danger involved with minor flooding, lightning, tornadoes, and trees falling down, but for most people tropical storms are just a nuisance for a day or two. The effects of hurricanes varies with each storm, depending on location, size, strength, and other factors. Hurricanes Dennis & Ivan, which passed well off the west coast, brought squall lines in outer bands that swept over the region, bringing strong winds (50-80 mph or 80-130 km/h) and isolated tornadoes. In 2004, Hurricanes Charley (Category 2), Frances (actually a strong Tropical Storm when it reached Lakeland), and Jeanne (Category 1) all passed through Polk County, within 25 mi of Lakeland, bringing moderate destruction. However, these were the first hurricanes since Hurricane Donna in 1960 to pass through Polk County, so fortunately they are not a common occurrence.
Lakeland lies along Interstate 4, the main east-west highway across Central Florida.
Lakeland and northwestern Polk County are closer to Tampa International Airport (TIA) (TPA IATA; ) which is served by all major airlines and has flights nationwide and to Canada, the Caribbean, and London. To get to Lakeland, follow signs to get onto Interstate 275 East (via a short drive on SR 60/Veteran's Expressway), go past downtown and get on Interstate 4 East. While State Road 60 is a major route across Polk County, it runs through urban areas for about 20-25 mi, including downtown Tampa, between TIA and Polk County. Lakeland is about 35 mi and Winter Haven (via Polk Parkway/S.R. 570 [toll $1.50] & Winter Lake Rd/S.R. 540) is about 55 mi. There is no public transportation to Polk County. There are no airport shuttles/taxis with service to Polk County (as of Dec 2012).
Another option, further from the city than TIA, is Orlando International Airport (MCO IATA). OIA is one of the nation's busiest airports and Orlando is the top tourism destination in the U.S. As a result, there are hundreds of flights each day connecting Orlando with destinations big and small nationwide as well as Canada, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The airport also has one of the largest rental car fleets in the country, with several companies and a wide range of vehicles to chose from. To get to Lakeland, exit the South exit from the airport to the Central Florida GreeneWay (S.R. 417), head south ($2.50 in tolls) to get on Interstate 4 heading west (towards "Tampa").
- 1 Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL IATA). The city's airport is capable of handling scheduled, commercial flights , but is not served by any scheduled airline. The air taxi operator Atlantic Airlines (☏ ) offers air taxi service to 87 airports (list) throughout Florida, including both large airports and smaller municipal airports. Their aircraft accommodate 2 passengers plus their luggage. Flights operate based on demand, not a regular schedule, and can be booked as soon as 4 hours before departure, if aircraft are available, and don't require reaching the airport 2 hours in advance for screening & check-in. The convenience comes at a price, an example one-way fare from Lakeland-Key West is $957 for 1 passenger or $478/person for 2 passengers.
Additionally, South Lakeland Airport (FAA LID: X49) is a small, turf runway located 1 mi south of downtown.
There's one long-distance Amtrak routes that serve Lakeland, the Silver Star. The train runs between New York City and Miami, with a detour to and from Tampa. However, travelling between Lakeland and Tampa is not allowed on this route. Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach service is available between Lakeland and Orlando, Tampa, Pinellas Park-St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, Port Charlotte and Fort Myers. Thruway Motorcoach service is booked together with train travel with Amtrak.
Onward connections with public transport is relativly straightforward with local buses, operated by Citrus Connection departing just outside the railway station.
- 2 Lakeland railway station, 600 Lake Mirror Drive (Northeast corner of downtown along Lake Mirror Drive). 10AM-6PM daily. Notice that while there's only one Amtrak station in Lakeland, the station has two different station codes. Between Lakeland and points north, the station code is LAK while between Lakeland and points south, the station code is LKL.
The city has one Greyhound station:
- Greyhound Lakeland Station, 303 N Massachusetts Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 7:30-9:30AM & 12:30-6:30PM; Su holidays 7:30-9:30AM & 12:30-4PM. It's a couple blocks north of downtown on the edge of a shady side of town, but is close to the city's police headquarters.
- 205 W Memorial Blvd, ☏ .
- Budget Car & Truck Rental, 120 W Memorial Blvd, ☏ .
- Enterprise Rent A Car, 619 E Memorial Blvd, ☏ .
- Enterprise Rent A Car, 4510 S Florida Ave, ☏ .
- Enterprise Rent A Car, 4997 U.S. 98 S, ☏ .
- Hertz Rent A Car, 117 E Memorial Blvd, ☏ .
- Hertz Rent A Car, 3900 Don Emerson Dr, ☏ . Located at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
- U-Save Car & Truck Rental, 3900 Don Emerson Dr, toll-free: . Located at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
A small bus network is operated by Citrus Connection.
- Checker Cab Co., ☏ . Serves all of Polk County.
- Yellowcab/Maingate Taxi, ☏ . Serves all of Polk County.
- Polk County Taxi, ☏ , toll-free: . Serves all of Polk County.
- 1 RP Funding Center (formerly Lakeland Center), 701 West Lime St, ☏ , toll-free: (ticketing), firstname.lastname@example.org. The Lakeland Center is a multi-purpose, multi-complex facility with four main buildings under one roof.
- Jenkins Arena
- Sikes Hall (Conference Center)
- Exhibition Hall
- Youkey Theatre
- 2 All Saints' Episcopal Church, 202 South Massachusetts Ave. Episcopal Church built in 1884.
- 3 Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, 800 East Palmetto St, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 1-5PM. Free.
Lake Mirror in Downtown Lakeland has something for everyone in the family. Lake Mirror Promenade is a beautiful, circular walk around the lake. Migrating birds and ducks can be frequently seen here, and on occasion some of Lakeland's famous swans. Take a leisurely stroll through Hollis Gardens through breathtaking displays of foliage and flowers. Barnett Family Park has play areas for children of all ages. A special play area for younger children is enclosed with a latching gate for peace of mind. Bright colors, mosaic wildlife scenes, animal sculptures and unique play structures beckon children. Plenty of seating is available to take a break. Keep a keen eye out for all of the artistic details in the tiles on the ground and the large sculptures that can be found around the lake. Festivals and movies on the Promenade are held throughout the year, as well as weddings and other special events. Grab a bite to eat at the Garden Bistro for lunch or the Texas Cattle Company steakhouse for dinner. Be sure to check out the fairly new massive swan sculpture at the top of the staircase of the Galley. Download the pdf and take yourself on a historic walking tour of the Downtown Lakeland area.
- 1 Sun n' Fun. late March or early April. A major week-long fly-in (general aviation meeting) and airshow. Some years international air acrobatics teams perform.
- The Joinery, 640 E Main St, ☏ . A food hall with a collection of multiple restaurants and vendors. Options include ice cream, ramen, burgers, and craft beers. Events are commonplace.
- LoveBird Almost Famous Chicken, 2101 Florida Ave S, ☏ .
- BD's Mongolian Grill, 1474 Town Center Dr, ☏ . Spc N.
- Britt's Cafe, Inc., 3662 Harden Blvd, ☏ .
- Country Chicken & Fish of Lakeland, 1263 Kathleen Road, ☏ .
- Cuban Delight Cafe, 1039 E County Road 540 A, ☏ .
- 1 Saigon Bistro, 1554 Town Center Dr. West (Lakeside Village shopping center), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-9PM; F Sa 11AM - 9:30PM; Su 11AM - 8:30PM. Vietnamese-style food.
- Lings Buffet, 4320 S. Florida Ave. (on east side of Florida Avenue (State Route 37) 0.8 miles south of Polk Parkway interchange), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-3:30 PM, 4-9:30 PM; F Sa 11AM-3:30PM, 4-10 PM; Su 11AM-9PM. Seats 350 people. It's a buffet offering Chinese, sushi and hibachi grill. Large sushi offering. Inexpensive pricing.
- Ciao Bella, 5369 N. Socrum Loop Rd, ☏ .
- Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille, 101 N Kentucky Ave, ☏ .
- Palace Italian Restaurant, 6120 US 98 Highway 98 N, ☏ .
- Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro, 100 Lake Morton Dr, ☏ .
- Ybor Cigars & Spirits, 5263 South Florida Avenue, ☏ .
- Wild Greg’s Saloon, 4951 US Highway 98 N, ☏ .
- Molly McHugh's Pubs, 111 South Kentucky Avenue, ☏ .
- Lake Wire Inn, 244 N. Florida Ave, ☏ .
- Extended Stay America Premier Suites, 4360 Lakeland Park Dr, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.
- Days Inn & Suites, 4502 N. Socrum Loop Road, ☏ .
- Comfort Inn & Suites, 3520 US Highway 98 N, ☏ .
- La Quinta Inn & Suites, 4315 Lakeland Park Dr, ☏ .
- La Quinta Inn & Suites, 1024 Crevasse St, ☏ .
- Sleep Inn & Suites, 4321 Lakeland Park Drive, ☏ .
- Courtyard by Marriott, 3725 Harden Blvd, ☏ .
- Hampton Inn, 4420 N Socrum Loop Road, ☏ .
- Hampton Inn & Suites Lakeland South Polk Parkway, 3630 Lakeside Village Blvd, ☏ .
- Hilton Garden Inn Lakeland, 3839 Don Emerson Drive, ☏ .
- Holiday Inn Lakeland South, 3405 S Florida Avenue, ☏ .
- Hyatt Place - Lakeland Center, 525 West Orange Street, ☏ .
- Residence Inn by Marriott, 3701 Harden Blvd, ☏ .
- The Terrace Hotel- Historic Lakeland, FL, 329 East Main St., ☏ . The Terrace Hotel has been beautifully restored, providing a glimpse into Lakeland's history.
Bed & Breakfasts
- Sanlan RV Park, 3929 US Hwy 98 S, ☏ .
There are three public libraries in Lakeland, all of which have computers for public use and wireless internet access.
- elibrary South Lakeland, 4740 S Florida Ave (in tge shopping center on NE corner of S Florida Ave & Lake Miriam Dr. Just to the right of Publix supermarket), ☏ . M-Th 9AM-6PM; F 9AM-5PM; Sa 10AM-2PM. This library takes up one small "storefront" in a shopping center. There's a small selection of books & movies, but this location primarily serves for internet access. There are a couple dozen public computers and wi-fi internet access. In the front there are tables & mesh chairs; and enclave with a couple of couches, coffee table & TV; and in the back there are a couple tables/chairs. Almost a coffee-shop feel to the front & back of this library, where you can relax and browse the web.
- 1 Lakeland Public Library, 100 Lake Morton Dr (Located on east side of Lake Morton (south side of downtown)), ☏ . M-Th 9AM-9PM; F Sa 9AM-5PM; Su 1:30-5PM. The main library is located across the parking lot from the Polk Museum of Art.
- Larry R. Jackson Branch Library, 1700 N Florida Ave (Located along W side of N Florida Ave (U.S. 98) just north of the hospital.), ☏ . M Tu Th 9AM-8PM; W F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- Dixieland Post Office, 1057 S Florida Ave, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. Located a mile or so south of downtown.
- Downtown Lakeland Post Office, 210 N Missouri Ave, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM. Located a block north of railroad tracks.
- Eaton Park Post Office, 2615 Ellis Ave (Near intersection of U.S. 98 & S Combee Rd), ☏ . M-F 9AM-4PM. Located on southeast side of town on U.S. 98, just north of the Polk Parkway.
- Highland City Post Office, 4114 Clubhouse Rd, ☏ . M-F 9AM-noon, 2-4PM.
- Lakeland Post Office, 2800 Lakeland Hills Blvd (A block north of Joker Marchant Stadium.), ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5:30PM; Sa 9AM-1PM. Main post office, on the NE side of Lakeland, 3-4 mi north of downtown.
- Southside Postal Store, 6000 S Florida Ave, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-6:30PM; Sa 9AM-2:30PM. Despite the name, this is a normal post office & the primary post office for South Lakeland.
- Visit Legoland Florida in Winter Haven
|Routes through Lakeland|
|Orlando ← Kissimmee ←||N W/S||→ Tampa/Winter Haven → Miami|
|Tampa ← Plant City ←||W E||→ Polk City → Orlando|
|Tampa ← Plant City ←||W E||→ Auburndale → Orlando|
|Pensacola ← Brooksville ← Jct N S ←||N S||→ Bartow → West Palm Beach|
|END ←||N S||→ Mulberry → Ends at W E|
|END ←||W S||→ Jct W E → Winter Haven|
|Ends at W E ←||W E||→ Auburndale → Ends at W E|