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50+ Free Things to Do in Lakeland and Polk County

Free Things to Do in Lakeland Florida Rotary Playground Pirate Ship

Looking for free things to do near you in Lakeland, Florida?  We have some great ideas for you. Making memories and finding family fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Lakeland and Polk County are full of FREE events and family activities. We love how much there is to do in our community!

Free Things to Do Outdoors

These are free outdoor activities in Lakeland, Winter Haven, and Polk County that you can do anytime.

Hiking – Explore the outdoors and find an outdoor hiking trail in Polk County.

Circle B Bar Reserve – Look for alligators, eagles, birds, and other wildlife as you wander along the grass and dirt trails at Circle B Bar Reserve between Lakeland and Winter Haven. This is a popular place to spend a few hours outdoors. Entry is FREE.

Biking – We’ve got a list of paved bike trails perfect for families as well as details on local mountain bike trails.

Walking – Our list of paved walking paths and scenic trails can help you find a great place to get some exercise, go for a run, rollerblade, or just take a leisurely stroll to enjoy being outdoors.

Play outdoors – Use our list of open fields where you can play outdoors to find a place to fly a kite, play a game of football, soccer or throw a Frisbee.

Go on a Mural Scavenger Hunt – we’ve got a list and map of 20+ amazing murals in Lakeland.

Visit a Garden – Stroll through the Hollis Garden area and learn about the variety of flowers and plants there. Opens at 10am, closed Mondays.

Get wet at a Splash Pad – The Winter Haven Splash Pad and Lakeland Splash Pad are open year round. 

Dog Parks – Both you and your dog can enjoy fresh air at one of 7 local dog parks.

Disc Golf – Play a game of frisbee golf at Hidden Oaks or Holloway Park {be sure everyone has their own frisbee}.

Geocaching – Try out geocaching an outdoor treasure hunt where you use GPS coordinates to find hidden containers.

Beach Day – Drive east or west and spend the day at the beach! {list coming soon}

Outdoor Activities

Free Playgrounds

Let your kids get their energy out at a local playground!

Hot day? Prefer shade? We’ve got the scoop on shaded playgrounds in Lakeland.

Visit a themed playground – The Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing on Lake Parker has a huge pirate ship as the main play structure!

McGee Park {off Edgewood near South McKeel Academy} is a car themed playground.

Other themed playgrounds include Common Ground (Fire Truck / Fire Station) and Woodlake Park (Train).

Free Things to Do with Kids

Visit a Library – Explore a local library and pick out books to borrow. Getting a library card is free. Libraries also offer free storytime and other activities for kids, check with your nearest library for a current schedule.

Pick out Free Books – Find a Little Free Library around town where you can take a book and/or leave a book – for FREE! Clean out your bookshelves and leave a few at each location, and hopefully you’ll find something to take with you. Use the map at to find one near you.

Watch skateboarders – Visit a local skate park – kids will enoy watching the impressive skaters.

Roller Skating – Sign up for Kids Skate Free at Skate World Lakeland.

Fun at Home – We’ve got a HUGE list of 75+ Things To Do at Home – many of them are free or can be done with things you might already have in the house.

Summer Fun at Home

Free Museums and Educational Activities

Mulberry Phosphate Museum – Dig for shark teeth and fossils at the Mulberry Phosphate Museum. Make sure you bring a small shovel or another item to dig through the rock pile, and something to sit on – you won’t want to kneel. They also have an indoor museum with a collection of fossilized remains, area memorabilia, and educational exhibits on the Phosphate Industry. Free admission.

The Florida Childrens Museum offers Money Mondays which means FREE admission to Florida Children’s Museum! Made possible by United Way of Central Florida, visitors gain free entry to the Museum between 12 and 5 pm on the last Monday of each month. {Annual memberships to the Museum start at only $120 and provide unlimited admission for a year!}

Polk’s Nature Discovery Center at Circle B Bar Reserve is a great place to learn about nature in Florida. You can feel animal skins, see a variety of wildlife habitats, and learn about the water cycle.

Polk Museum of Art – Explore the current exhibits and permanent collections at the Polk Museum of Art. Don’t miss the impressive Youth Gallery! Admission is free, open Tuesday – Sunday, closed Mondays. The museum also offers art classes and other perks that are free to members.

Polk County History Center – Learn more about local history and see artifacts at the History Center. In addition to permanent displays, they host rotating exhibits and educational programs that feature a variety of subjects specific to Polk County.

Zoom & Vroom – Watch past Videos to learn more about Polk County and then head out on a self-guided driving tour.

FREE Museum Admission Day – This annual event held in mid-September offers free admission to thousands of museums across the country. Be sure to register in advance for a ticket.

More Free Museums – There are other free museums in Polk County, as well as ways to get into museums and science centers for free if you are a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch card holder or EBT/SNAP card holder. Some museums also have free admission days during the month.

Free Workshops and Classes for Kids

The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center (formerly Family Fundamentals) offers classes on a weekly basis for children from infants through age 5 where parents and children will learn and socialize as they participate in fun, stimulating, developmental activities. These classes are FREE and a great opportunity to meet other moms and caregivers. No commitment is required.

Lowe’s Kids’ Workshops are free, monthly, in-store events designed to inspire the next generation of builders while growing their confidence and DIY skillset. Register for a new DIY Workshop on a Saturday each month.

Home Depot Kids’ Workshops are held the first Saturday of every month from 9am – 12pm. No registration required, visit the store for a new free, seasonal-themed project each month.

Michaels Kids Club – Michaels stores offer Kids Club activities and crafting classes for kids and adults.

Free Events for Families

Events Calendar – Almost all of the events on our family-friendly event calendar are free or low-cost.

Water Ski Shows – Catch a free water ski show in Winter Haven or Lakeland.

Free Kids Concert – The Imperial Symphony Orchestra puts on a free performance just for kids each year, typically in the spring called the Cookie Concert – it includes Publix cookies!

Festivals for Kids
Each year the Junior League of Greater Lakeland hosts the World of Reading Festival with free books, authors, and fun activities for kids – and it is all free!
The annual CommunityFest in Winter Haven is a free family fun festival in the park.

Downtown Lakeland – Downtown Lakeland has free activities on a regular basis including First Friday, the Farmer’s Market, Buena Market, car shows, and other community events in Munn Park. Check our calendar for upcoming free events in Downtown Lakeland.

Downtown Winter Haven – There are free activities in Central Park and Downtown Winter Haven on a regular basis including art shows, markets, and more. Check our calendar for upcoming free events in Downtown Winter Haven.

Downtown Bartow – Main Street and the shopping corridor in Bartow have free events on a regular basis including markets, art shows, free outdoor movies, SyFy, Friday Fest, and community festivals. Check our calendar for upcoming free events in Downtown Bartow.
Mosaic Park in Bartow is also home to free events during the year.

Auburndale– There are free activities in the City Park in Auburndale during the year. Check our calendar for upcoming free events in Auburndale.

Mulberry – Spence park is a popular location for community activities in Mulberry. Check our calendar for upcoming free events in Mulberry.

See more free events for families in our Seasonal Events section below.

Farmers Market – Visit the the Lakeland Farmers Market in Downtown Lakeland and pick out fresh fruit, bread, and shop with other local vendors. {Free to browse}

Go on a Picnic – Although the food isn’t free, finding a scenic spot for lunch or dinner is free when you use our list of places to enjoy a picnic in Lakeland.

U-Pick Fruit – You can visit a U-Pick farm for free, but you do pay for the fruit you pick. As long as you only pick a reasonable amount, this can be an inexpensive activity in relation to the amount of fruit you take home, and can replace fruit you would buy at the grocery store. Find locations for Strawberry Picking, Blueberry Picking, and Peach Picking.

U Pick Blueberries Lakeland Florida (7)

Free Seasonal Events and Activities

Every season has quite a few free events and activities!

Free Things to Do Near You in Spring

Free Things to Do Near You for Fall and Halloween

Free Things to Do Near You at Christmas

Cheap Things to Do – $5 or less per person

While the focus of this list is FREE things to do, we’ll also include some really inexpensive activities that are $5 or less per person.

Go Swimming – Our community public pools are inexpensive at only $2-4 per person per visit. Gandy Pool in Lakeland and “Rowdy” Gaines Olympic Pool in Winter Haven are heated and open year-round. {Check website for current open swim days/hours}. Plus the pool at Florida Southern College is open during the summer to guests. Visit the Lake Eva Water Park for only $5 per person.

Storytime Enchanted Fairytale Hollow is home to Lakeland’s most magical party entertainment company – Dreams Come True Entertainment. They host weekly storytime for only $3-5 per person.

100+ Things to Do with Kids

Check out our Ultimate List of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County to find indoor fun, outdoor fun, free things to do, seasonal activities, and more.