Lakeland Outdoor Adventures: Best Places for Fresh Air and Fun
Located east of Tampa within the central lakes region of Florida lies a destination perfect for outdoor recreation. Many people visit Lakeland due to its proximity to Orlando and Tampa. However, the city welcomes visitors to explore the area’s natural attractions. To get started, check out the top Lakeland outdoor adventures and start making memories.
Lakeland Outdoor Adventures: Explore the Region
Hike Circle B Bar Reserve
What was once a cattle ranch now serves as a safe haven for outdoor lovers and wildlife. Situated on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock, Circle B Bar Reserve welcomes visitors to hike trails, take photographs, enjoy picnics and watch wildlife.
For a short and easy hike, visitors have several trail options such as otter trail, wading bird way, heron hideout and eagle roost – all measuring less than 1 mile. Those with more time enjoy Alligator Alley, a 1-mile walk through the swamp via boardwalk. Most trails are well shaded, but bring drinking water and snacks.
Circle B Bar Reserve features different ecosystems. Natural communities include large oaks with Spanish moss, freshwater wetlands and 400 acres of marshes. While exploring, look for alligators, eagles, woodpeckers, cranes, great blue herons, otter and reptiles, to name a few.
Stroll Hollis Garden
This lakefront botanical garden houses more than 10,000 flowers, shrubs and native trees. These natural attractions blend together with neoclassical architecture to creative a peaceful environment for all ages.
To experience it up-close, head to Mirror Lake in downtown Lakeland. The garden consists of 1.2 acres packed full of themed gardens. Examples showcase patterned flower beds, public art and fountains. Hollis Gardens is closed on Mondays, but guests are welcome until early evening on other days.
Play Golf in Central Florida
Golf ranks among the most popular Lakeland outdoor adventures because there are so many courses in the area. In fact, there are more than 35 public golf courses – that’s 600-plus holes!
Top golf courses designers, such as Donald Ross, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Doak have designed area courses. In addition, Lakeland’s golf courses feature distinct layouts mixed with central Florida’s natural beauty, lakes and mature trees. A few top-rated courses include the Club at Eaglebrook, Southern Dunes Golf Club, Cleveland Heights and Links of Sandpiper.
If searching for additional options, play Plantation Palms in Land O’Lakes, Bloomingdale in Valrico and Willowbrook in Winter Haven.
Legoland Florida Resort
Families with children love Legoland Florida Resort. This theme park has 50 rides, interactive shows and LEGO-themed everything. It’s the place to play like a kid in Winter Haven, Florida.
Rides range from gentle coasters and safaris to thrill coasters and wooden trains. Children ages 12 and under enjoy playing, and there are designated sections for toddlers and water recreation. Legoland Florida Resort also has a water park with a lazy river, build-a-boat, slides, wave pool, fountains and more attractions. Don’t forget to stop by Imagination Zone, which has interactive activities.
In Dade City, animal lovers get up-close and personal with giraffes at Giraffe Ranch. This working ranch specializes in exotic species and domestic cattle, providing a place of protection and safety. Giraffes, sandhill cranes and other wildlife roam on 47 acres of land located near the Green Swamp, one of Florida’s wilderness areas.
At Giraffe Ranch, visitors feed giraffes, pet camels, and see rhino, Brazilian tapir and pygmy hippo. The ranch is not a zoo or theme park, but an agritourism leader in Florida. In order to participate, visitors must make a reservation in advance. Tours occur twice daily and last up to 1.5 hours.
One of the recent Lakeland outdoor adventures is Snowcat Ridge, a snow-filled winter wonderland. That’s right. Real snow in Florida.
Snowcat Ridge, Florida’s first snow park, features a 400-foot snow tubing lane, magic carpet lift and Alpine Village. After hours of snow tubing, head indoors to the dome where visitors build snowmen and snow castles. Young riders have access to a child-size tubing hill inside the dome. When it’s time for a break, visitors will find restaurants and shops inside the Alpine village.
If looking for thrills, try skydiving in Zephyrhills, Florida. Skydive City has served the area for more than 30 years and offers different types of skydiving options. First-timers can book tandem dives, while others take classes to become licensed. Experienced skydivers will find sports events and festivals just for them.
Treehoppers Adventure Park
Also located in Dade City, Treehoppers Adventure Park helps guests try ziplining. This aerial adventure park welcomes all ages – from 1 to 101 – to climb and ride through the trees. The park has color-coded trails suited for all skill levels and will guide climbers every step.
Those traveling with small children should try the little lemurs course for kids ages 1 to 6 years old. Those who want a different experience may enjoy cosmic night climbs when nine courses shine in the wilderness.
Want to visit? Learn more about vacationing in central Florida, and find rental homes near Lakeland.