Outdoor Activities Guide: 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.

Popular Outdoor Activities

Biking Trails

Hiking Trails

Paved Trails

Playgrounds

Pools + Splash Pads

Murals

Canoe + Kayak

Dog Parks

Outdoor Dining

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 – Free

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.

Canoe Kayak Central Florida

Enjoy Lakeland’s Outdoor MuralsFree

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. 

Murals-Lakeland-Florida

Play a round of disc golf (Frisbee Golf) – Free

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 – Free

The Winter Haven Splash Pad is currently open. Get updates on when Lakeland’s Splash Pad will reopen, 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.

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 – Free

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.

Let your furry friend run free at a dog park – Free

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

Go on a picnic – Free (except the food)

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)

Dig for shark teeth – Free

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 – Free

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 geocaching.com.

Visit a Farmer’s Market – Free to browse

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 – Free

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.

Learn to wakeboard or improve your shredding skills

Elite Cable Park is a wakeboarding and water sports park located in Auburndale. All activities are run on an overhead cable system {instead of behind a boat} and equipment is included in many of their packages. Their “Get Up Guarantee” includes one-on-one coaching AND a guarantee that you’ll be up and riding in no time. This package includes gear, a 15-minute lesson, up to 4 hours of riding time, and your visit free if you don’t get up. Perfect for first-timers or anyone who hasn’t been on the water in a few years.

Elite Cable Park Wakeboarding

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

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.

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.

Lake Hollingsworth Lakeland 3 miles

Walk around Lake Morton – Free

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 – Free

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 like a Pirate – Free

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 – Free

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.

About the Author: April Mucci

April is the owner of LakelandMom.com. She has lived in Lakeland since age 2 and is passionate about our community and connecting families with local resources. She is a mom to 2 boys and a mini goldendoodle, wife to Matt. You can often find April at the baseball field where she cheers on her baseball loving 12 year old, or home building Legos with her 9 year old. She loves reading, saltwater fishing, concerts and live performances, and working on Lakeland Mom!