Lakeland is Polk County’s largest city and is one of the two major cities that make up the Lakeland-Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area. Founded in the 1870s, it’s amongthe county’s oldest cities as well, and boasts a high concentration of historic buildings and landmarks.
Lakeland is conveniently located between Orlando and Tampa – a factor that has greatly contributed to its impressive economic growth. The city today is a fascinating mix of traditional and modern elements, giving it a personality and flavor that’s all its own.
Living in Lakeland
Lakeland got its name from its bounty of 38 lakes, which are home to graceful swans that have become synonymous with the city. The lakes provide residents with myriad things to do, including waterskiing, boating, fishing, kayaking, and more.
Lakeland’s many historic districts and landmarks blend in nicely with the city’s modern developments. Popular shops and new restaurants share space with vintage homes and buildings in the city’s downtown and other historic districts.
Lakeland has been enjoying a robust economy since the 1930s when the Detroit Tigers first chose the city as its venue for spring training. To this day, the team trains every spring at the Joker Marchant Stadium, and owns the minor-league baseball team the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
The city’s economic boom in the1930s was also helped along by the opening of the Lakeland Municipal Airport, which has become a major state facility.
Lakeland’s traditional citrus and phosphate industries continue to thrive today, along with businesses in other sectors, particularly health care, tourism, education, retail and services. The largest employers in the city include Lakeland Regional Medical Center – Hospital (one of the Florida’s largest hospitals), Polk County Public Schools, and Publix Supermarkets, which has its headquarters here.
Lakeland is also the home of Florida Southern College, a private college that boasts no less than 12 buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, making it the site of the world’s largest concentration of Wright buildings. Other higher learning institutions in the city are Southeastern College, Polk Community College and a University of South Florida campus.
Real estate in Lakeland
Lakeland is composed of several neighborhoods, including historic districts like Dixieland and Downtown Lakeland. Neighborhoods like Cleveland Heights, Medulla and Lakeland Highlands feature prominent lakes, making real estate here among the most desired in the city.
Downtown Lakeland has 6 lakes within its borders, and this, along with the many businesses and amenities found in the area, makes it one of the most sought after addresses throughout Lakeland.
Just like the city itself, the housing stock in Lakeland is highly diverse. It includes historic homes from the 1800s to the mid 1900s, as well as more recently built residences. Architectural styles widely vary, from traditional Florida architecture to mid-century modern to contemporary. You can find grand historic estates, lakeside homes in new developments, and charming single-family homes in welcoming residential neighborhoods.
Downtown Lakeland offers a wide variety of housing stock, including mixed-use and condominium complexes, apartments and converted lofts, combined with single-family homes in a broad range of sizes and prices.
Attractions and amenities
- History buffs and shopping addicts will love Dixieland Historic District. A residential area developed in the early 1900s, it features beautiful 1920s to 1940s homes, and a wide assortment of boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
- Downtown is the heart of Lakeland. It’s the site of many of Lakeland’s historic and modern landmarks, including:
- The Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror
- Hollis Garden
- Munn Park
- The Florida Southern College’s collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture
- The Terrace Hotel
- Polk Theatre
- Downtown is also home to numerous restaurants and coffee shops. Not to be missed are local favorites like Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grill, Lakeland BBQ Company, Black & Brew Coffee House and Becky’s Hot Dogs.
- Polk Museum of Art is another Downtown landmark and is one of Florida’s top ten museums. It features permanent and rotating art exhibits, an outdoor sculpture garden, and workshops for the family.
- Safari Wilderness is a unique Lakeland attraction. This 260-acre habitat preserve is home to a wide variety of wildlife, and can be toured by camelback or safari bus.
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