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Outdoor Activities Guide: Things to Do in Lakeland + Polk County

Outdoor Activities in Lakeland (1)

Are you searching for outdoor things to do in Lakeland and Polk County? Whether you prefer hiking, water sports, biking, mini-golf, animal adventures, playgrounds, or just somewhere to get outside, this list has outdoor activities for all ages. With year-round sunshine and plenty of warm days, we have an abundance of things to do outdoors in Florida.

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Lakeland + Polk County’s Best Outdoor Activities

Check out these family-friendly things to do outdoors in Lakeland and Polk County where you can enjoy the fresh air and open spaces and the kids can have fun. Let the outdoor adventures begin!

Go for a Nature Hike

Explore a new trail or visit your favorite shaded hiking spot. We’ve got a list of outdoor hiking trails in Polk County including local favorites spots like Circle B, Holloway Park, Colt Creek State Park, and Lakeland Highlands Scrub.

Find a new Walking Path

Are you looking for a place to walk in Lakeland with a stroller or somewhere you can walk on a paved trail? If you prefer to stay on even ground, these paved walking paths and scenic trails are a great place to get some exercise, go for a run, rollerblade, or just take a leisurely stroll to enjoy being outdoors.

Take a Family Bike Ride

If you’ve got a bike trailer or a way to transport bikes, we’ve got a list of the best bike trails for families and kids. Our list includes places to learn to ride a bike, paved bike paths, mountain bike trails, AND a list of bike shops in case you’re looking for a new bike or need a repair.

Paddle the day away in a kayak or canoe

Floating down a river or exploring the coast of Florida in a kayak is the perfect way to spend a day when the weather is beautiful. With plenty of lakes, rivers, coastlines, and springs only 1-2 hours from Lakeland, we found 15 amazing spots to rent a kayak or book a tour, including 3 right here in the Lakeland area.

For a truly unique water adventure, book a clear kayak tour on Florida’s coast or at a natural spring.

Canoe Kayak Central Florida

Enjoy Lakeland’s Outdoor Murals

Go on a Mural Scavenger Hunt – we’ve got a list and map of 19+ amazing murals in Lakeland. Whether you are looking for a selfie wall, an Instagram background, or just enjoy seeing these works of public art, the entire family will have fun trying to pick your favorite mural in Lakeland. 


Play a round of disc golf (Frisbee Golf)

We recently discovered disc golf and LOVED it! We played at Hidden Oaks Disc Golf Course at Loyce E. Harpe Park.  Follow the road as far back as you can drive to find the course. Everyone who can throw a frisbee can play disc golf. I know there are official Frisbee Golf rules, but we did our own thing with the only object to get the frisbee to the end target. One important thing we learned the hard way is that everyone needs their own frisbee.

Disc Golf Lakeland

Cool down at a Splash Pad

The Winter Haven Splash Pad and Lakeland Splash Pad are open year round. Get more information as well as a list of other places to play in the water in the Tampa area, in our Splash Pad Guide.

Go Swimming

Pools in Lakeland, Winter Haven, and Lake Eva in Haines City are open for recreational swimming. Some pools are only open seasonally, but others are open year round! Get the details in our Swimming Pools Guide.

The Lake Eva Water Park has something for all ages! Toddlers and younger kids will enjoy the splash pad and water spray park, while older kids will have fun on the large slide and in the zero-depth entry lagoon pool with a water dump bucket. There is also a regular pool with an open swim area and swim lanes.

Check out a theme park

We have Peppa Pig Theme Park and the LEGOLAND Florida Resort and Water Park right here in Polk County.

Peppa Pig Theme Park Roller Coaster (3)

Enjoy a round of mini-golf

Family Fun Center in Lakeland has an 18 hole outdoor miniature golf course with a lake and waterfall. Golfers of ALL ages will enjoy competing on each of the par 2 holes along the way.

Family Fun Center Mini Golf Lakeland 2

See an outdoor movie

Silvermoon Drive-In is a Lakeland favorite. Take chairs or a blanket, or simply pop your back hatch, and enjoy a movie at the drive-in. Check their website for this week’s movie schedule.

Play on a shaded playground

In the Florida heat, especially during the summer, we prefer to visit Lakeland’s Shaded Playgrounds.

Go on a Drive-Thru Safari

At Safari Wilderness in Lakeland, you can get up close and personal with llamas, zebras, watsui cattle, water buffalo, and more. For a limited time they are offering a guided drive-thru safari tour where you can see and feed exotic animals from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Safari Wilderness Lakeland 4

Let your furry friend run free at a dog park

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

Go on a picnic

Looking for a place to have a picnic? Pick one from our list of 10 Places to Enjoy a Picnic in Lakeland.

Visit a U-Pick Farm

One of our favorite family friendly things to do in Lakeland is visit a U-Pick farm! Find out where you can pick your own Strawberries (January – March), find a U-Pick Blueberry Farm (March – May), or get fresh-picked Florida Peaches (April – May) right off the trees.

U Pick Blueberries Lakeland Florida (7)

Visit a working Farm or Petting Zoo

We can help you find a farm in Central Florida where you can pet and feed farm animals. Check out these petting zoos and animal farms where you can see cows, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, horses, and more.

Try Goat Yoga

Yoga… But with goats! The general idea is that you participate in a yoga class while goats mill around you, nibble at you, and maybe even climb onto your back. There are multiple farms in Polk County where you can enjoy a goat yoga session.

Dig for shark teeth

Visit the Mulberry Phosphate Museum to dig through the rock pile and look for shark’s teeth and fossils. Be sure to take a small shovel for digging, as well as a towel or something to sit/kneel on. It is not shaded, but you go early morning or later in the day, the dragline bucket does create some shady areas.

Mulberry Phosphate Museum Shark Teeth (2)

Try your hand at Geocaching

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (aka Smart Phones). Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Learn more on

Visit a Farmer’s Market

Find fresh produce and local goods at one of the weekly Farmers Markets in Polk County. Not just limited to food, many of them also have handmade items and other unique booths to browse. Learn more about the Lakeland Farmer’s Market in Downtown Lakeland or one of the other markets in Bartow, Winter Haven, and Lake Wales.

Explore Bok Tower Gardens and Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden

Bok Tower is one of the most beautiful places in Polk County. Kids can explore in Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden, then take a stroll to see the variety of flowers and vegitation, and be sure to get a photo in front of the Singing Tower.

Bok Tower Gardens

Fly a kite

Use our list of Open Fields and Parks to find a large open field to fly a kite.

Learn to Paddleboard or go on a Paddleboard Tour

Paddleboard Winter Haven is ready to teach you how to use a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard). Lessons and tours are available on the Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven.

Play a game of football, soccer or throw a Frisbee in an open field

Lakeland has plenty of Open Fields and Parks Where You Can Play Outdoors.

Have a family paintball war

See who can be the last man or woman standing on the paintball field. Local options include Central Florida Paintball, Off the Wall Adventures, and Mark ‘Em All Paintball.

Go Fishing

Catch largemouth bass on one of the many lakes in Polk County. Book a Charter Fishing Trip to make the most of your day on the water.

Take an airboat tour

Just a short drive from Lakeland, you can see Old Florida on an airboat tour. Options include Captain Fred’s Airboat Tours, Alligator Cove Airboat Tours, and Alligator’s Unlimited Airboat Tours.

Zoos in Central Florida Safari Near You

Go to a Zoo, Safari, or see Exotic Animals

Central Florida has an abundance of attractions where you can get up close and personal with wild animals. Drive-thru safaris, zoo programs, private tours, exotic animal feedings, and more.

Lake Hollingsworth Lakeland 3 miles

Walk around Lake Morton

A trip to Lake Morton will show you why the swan is Lakeland’s famous icon! Lake Morton is a great place to see a variety of birds, ducks, and graceful swans. At only 1 mile around with a wide grass bank, your entire family can enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Walk around Lake Hollingsworth

Can your kids handle a longer distance? At 3 miles around, Lake Hollingsworth takes approximately 45 minutes to walk the full paved trail around the lake.

Play on the Race Cars

Start your engines and race on over to Lakeland’s new car-themed playground at John McGee Park. Your kiddos will love pretending to drive a car or truck, climb on tires, and run the gas pump.

John McGee Park Lakeland

Play like a Pirate

The Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing on Lake Parker has a huge pirate ship as the main play structure! Other themed playgrounds include Common Ground (Fire Truck / Fire Station) and Woodlake Park (Train).

Rotary Playground Lake Parker Lakeland Pirate Ship

Stop and smell the roses

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

Seasonal Outdoor Activities

Looking for outdoor things to do that are seasonal? Check out our list of activities for Spring, Summer, Fall + Halloween, and Winter + Christmas.

More Thing to Do Outdoors with Kids

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.