Have a trip coming up and passing through Lakeland? Looking for a great spot to visit west of Orlando? Check out all the fun and exciting free things to do in Lakeland! Below you will find some of our best picks of activities in the area. Lakeland is a big enough city that you can make it a destination in itself. It is also about the halfway point between Tampa and Orlando, so a great spot for a pit stop on your next road trip across Florida.
1. Hollis Garden – FREE
If you’ve ever thought that you’d like to visit a really nice botanical garden, but didn’t want to pay the high sticker price to get in – well your problem is solved! Hollis Garden has no admission price, and is a very well taken care of botanical garden. Open every day of the week but Monday, stop by and have a picnic. Or spend an afternoon amongst the plants in this 1.2 acre garden with over 10,000 flowers! Located off Lake Mirror in downtown.
While you are visiting the garden, if you have children you can stop at Barnett Family park just around the corner. The park has a free splashpad and a shaded playground. You can also follow a walking path part of the way around Lake Mirror!
2. Silver Moon Drive in Theatre – $7 Adults, $3 Kids
For some old fashion family fun – and budget friendly! – catch a movie at the oldest Drive in Theatre in Polk County. They have been in business for more than 70 years! Silvermoon has two screens and operates movies 7 days a week. Check out their website to view what is playing and what is coming up next! On the weekends, the drive in also operates a fun and eclectic flea market.
3. Bonnet Park – FREE
Bonnet park is on the top of our list free things to do in Lakeland with kids. If you enjoy checking out new and amazing parks and playgrounds with your kids, this is one you will not want to skip! I mean does a playground get any better that with a slide that looks like this one?
The park has beautiful trails, plenty of restrooms, and is dog friendly! It has plenty of walking paths, a butterfly garden, and a children’s museum ($15 admission).
4. Take a bike ride – FREE
Lakeland is one of the few areas in central Florida, with an extensive biking system! There is a lake to lake path that you can ride for 26 miles, which leads you around 9 different lakes in the area (there’s a reason why this city is named Lakeland!)
Start your trip at either Lake Parker to the north or Lake John, if you are starting from the south. There are lots of stops along the way where you can park your bike and check out the local scenery. Follow this link to the map of all the trails in the area.
5. Circle B Bar Reserve – FREE
This free wildlife preserve is the place you want to go if you are looking walk a trail and see some alligators! The preserve used to be a cattle ranch, now it’s a large network of trails. The trails are short and are either easy or moderate. Some of the trails run along Lake Hancock!
Although it’s not quite “hiking” the trails are still enjoyable during the cooler months of the year in Florida. Definitely plan to pack your own water and mosquito repellent, and stop to use the bathroom before heading out to the trails. There is a restroom located in the Polk’s Nature Discovery Center, located on the way into the trails.
That sums it up on our favorite free things to do in Lakeland! Hope you’ll find something on the list that you will enjoy with your friends or family. If you are looking for more to do in the surrounding area, visit our page on Lake Whales.