Lakeland town

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Tampa, FL
Lakeland town
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Lakeland is a college town, home to Florida Southern College. This is what makes it culturally rich. It's hilly streets make it unique for a Florida town, and charming. Often the streets lead downhill to a lovely blue lake. Tropical plants add to the beauty. 

Because Lakeland was an industrial phosphate mining town, there are also ugly areas. But there are enough pockets of prettiness to make it worth an explore. 
The main downtown area is focused around Lemon Street, Main Street, and especially Kentucky Ave. Mann Park, a traditional Southern square, sits in the middle of these and has nice chairs and tables for lounging. Walk along Lemon Street and enjoy it's allees of trees and varied sculptures. This is called the Lemon Street Promenade and runs for four blocks between Florida Ave in the west and Lake Mirror in the east. On the west end you can see the historic Polk Theater on Florida Ave (which shows independent movies), and on the east end you can take a walk around Lake Mirror.
Lake Mirror, which has an industrial feel from a distance, is quite pretty at its walkway. The walkway, lined in charming lampposts, takes you along the lake past water lilies and birds. The lake most likely was a phosphate mine pit, and therefore sits at the bottom of slopes all around. Make sure to explore the many corners of Hollis Garden on the southern edge of the lake, with its cute hedges, tropical flowers, fountains, sculptures, palm trees, and lake views. Classical music plays in the garden and as you look past each new adorable view of plants and blue water, you feel truly serene. What a lovely place! There is no entrance fee, but the gardens are closed on Mondays.
Next to and slightly behind Hollis Garden (away from the lake) is Barnett Family Park, with a modern playground with shade canopies, pyramid space net, tightrope, huge dish swings, spinner, space net merry go round, unique monkey bars, music station, motorcycle see-saw, tractor slide, and splash pad with a swinging bucket that dumps water! There are some cute sculptures of family scenes in the park. You walk past the outdoor seating at Garden Bistro to get to the playground from Hollis Garden.
Kentucky Ave has the popular Palace Pizza, a nice counter service place with delicious pizza by the slice and big windows looking out on greenery and the cute street. Many business people come here at lunchtime because the food is reliable. There is also an Irish pub called Molly McHugh's, and an Indian Pakistani restaurant called Cafe Roti. Black and Brew is a groovy coffee shop with a brick wall inside, lots of students, and plenty of seating. The music is good and I felt like I was at the coffee shops I miss in Chapel Hill. Two blocks north of Munn Park is Honeycomb Bread Bakers (with a few baked items plus a stationary store), Mitchell's Coffee House, and Crispers Salads (counter service). There is a farmers market on Kentucky Ave on Saturdays from 8-1 (closed in August). On the first Friday of every month there is a festival from 6-9pm. Food trucks come on the second Thursday of each month 6-9pm. Check out the flyers around town at places such as Palace Pizza to see what great cultural offerings are coming up- symphony concerts, plays, and more.
A prettier lake than Lake Mirror is Lake Morton, which has a wonderful variety of birds including swans. But sadly, there is no path around it! How weird is that? To walk around it, you must cross the street and walk the sidewalk, with less views of the water and birds.
Near Lake Morton is the wonderful Polk Museum of Art (closed Mondays). It has especially great traveling exhibits. I LOVED the exhibit of Pierre H. Matisse's art. Henri Matisse's grandson, he died recently in Florida at the age of 91. His art is colorful, with clean lines, and positive themes, and I hope it is displayed again in the future. There was also a great exhibit of American Impressionist painters when I visited. And the next time I visited, the traveling exhibits had changed and were just as lovely, plus there was a girl playing Celtic harp in the lobby, filling me with joy. Admission is free.
South of Lake Morton, walk around Florida Southern College and check out the strange architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's lovely when you get a peek of the blue Lake Hollingsworth. There are also lots of tropical plants and a huge round blue fountain that is impressive. Wright's low-built walkways provide shade though the rest of campus is not very shady. You can park at campus without being towed according to a lady I talked to. Pop into the Melvin Art Gallery on campus to see what they have on display- when I was there I was in bliss seeing more artwork by Pierre H. Matisse.
To the south on Florida Ave you can find three cool places: Hillcrest Coffee with its fireplace and homey feel, Concord Coffee, a modern hip place with lovely plants on the wall, and Born and Bread, a delicious-smelling bakery that is only open on Wednesdays 5-10pm and Saturdays 8am-1pm. The line, which wraps around the corner outside, is the downside, but you can check that day's menu on a sign outside while you wait. There is enough seating despite the crowds, but it can be loud with that many people in line. The line never dies down the entire time they are open. The lanterns inside made for a pretty atmosphere. The cruffin (croissant muffin) had a filling that was too sweet for me, but the croissant part was so crispy and good that I can imagine a chocolate croissant would be excellent here. Their whole grain loaf is crunchy with lots of seeds on the outside and springy on the inside- so good!! I would also like to try their pot pies, sold sometimes on Wednesday nights.
Lastly, for a long walk or bike ride, enjoy the bike path that goes three miles around Lake Hollingsworth, alongside Lake Hollingsworth Drive.

Continue to directions...

Red brick wall and bell tower.

Palace Pizza on Kentucky Ave, a very popular place to have lunch.

Palace Pizza interior, where you can buy pizza by the slice, and look out the pretty windows.

Brick buildings on Lemon Street.

Metallic sculpture on Lemon Street.

Winged lady sculpture on Lemon Street.

Luminescent sculpture on Lemon Street.

Suntrust Building and blue sky.

Bright tree and storefront.

Ugly street in Lakeland- you see quite a few of these.

Munn Park benches.

Sitting by a tropical tree in Munn Park.

Historic Kress building.

Mural on Cedar Street. Nice colors!

Lemon Street, as it leads down to Lake Mirror.

Tropical trees and sculpture at Lake Mirror walkway.

Polk Museum of Art entrance.

Ceramic figures from Peru, in Polk Museum of Art.

Close-up of Liberty and Love, by Pierre H. Matisse. A special exhibit in Polk Museum of Art.

Bright flower and hedges at Hollis Garden.

Knotted sculpture at Hollis Garden.

Orange red hibiscus at Hollis Garden.

Lake Mirror Walk.

Yellow roses near Barnett Family Playground and Garden Bistro.

Old tree and clock, at Barnett Family Playground, on the Lake Mirror Walk.

Banana bread, at Black and Brew.

Bright interesting mural along a street.

Munn Park.

Ivory Coast masks, a special exhibit at Polk Museum of Art.

The wonderful walls of Black and Brew.

Saturday morning at Black and Brew.

The queue on a Saturday morning, in Born and Bread Bakehouse.

Directions

Parking is $1 an hour in the Cedar Street garage and Main Street garage. To park along the street for more than two hours, you need to download the ParkMobile App and pay $1 per hour. Parking might be free on Saturdays during farmers market. 
Palace Pizza, 114 S Kentucky Ave, Lakeland, FL 33801.
Polk Theater (indie movies), 121 Florida Ave S, Lakeland, FL 33801.
Hollis Botanical Garden, southern edge of Lake Mirror walking path, 702 E Orange St, Lakeland, FL 33801. Free admission. Closed Mondays.
Barnett Family Park (playground), 730 E Orange St, Lakeland, FL 33801.
Polk Museum of Art, 800 E Palmetto St, Lakeland, FL 33801. Open Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5. Admission is free. Highly recommended!
Florida Southern College, 111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr, Lakeland, FL 33801. There are parking lots on Johnson Ave (a one-way road going north) and Frank Lloyd Wright Way, the western and northern boundaries of campus.

map

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Last Updated: Mon, 27 Jan 2020 16:21:36 GMT

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