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Ultimate Summer Fun Guide: Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County

Summer Fun Guide Things to Do in Lakeland

Summer is here! Are you ready for swimming and grilling, outdoor fun, summer camps, family trips, and all the fun that summer brings? If you’re looking for family-friendly places to go and things to do in Lakeland + Polk County this is the list for you!

We’ve got details on summer activities for kids near you in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Mulberry, Auburndale, Lake Wales, Haines City, and across Central Florida.


Whether you’re searching for indoor fun to get out of the heat {and out of the house} or want to explore the great outdoors, you’re sure to find activities on our list for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Summer Camps

With more than 100 camps to choose from here in Lakeland and Polk County, your kids can try something new or have fun doing what they already love! Use our Lakeland + Polk County Summer Camp Guide to find sports camps, day camps, aeronautical camps, swim camps, gymnastics camps, martial arts camps, art camps, camps for teens, dance camps, STEM camps, and so much more. Looking for something different this year? We’ve also got details on some of the most unique summer camps in Polk County.

Celebrate the Last Day of School

The end of the school year is near and it is time to celebrate! We’ve got a list of fun ideas for you if you’re looking for last day of school activities.

Fun at Home

Summer is a great time to play at home. Whether it’s day 1 or day 48 of summer break, there always comes a point where I run out of ideas for keeping the kids entertained during the summer. We’ve put together a list of 75+ things to do in summer at home, and most require little or no preparation.

You can also check out our list of free online summer activities and online camps for DIY hands on projects and kids activities to do at home.

Swimming Pools + Splash Pads

Kids love to play in water and there is nothing better than a dip in the pool to beat the Florida heat! Put on your flippy floppys and head to a local swimming pool near you in Lakeland or Polk County that are open to the public and either free or less than $5 per person.

Prefer a Splash Pad? Find a place to get wet and cool off this summer including the splash pads in Winter Haven and Lakeland, plus splash pads in the Tampa and Orlando area f you’re looking to make a day trip.

Although Peppa Pig Theme Park has rides, playgrounds, themed attractions, and more, if you visit during the summer you can’t miss the Muddy Puddles Splash Pad.

Play in a pool AND splash pad at the Lake Eva Water Park in Haines City. (TIP – there is a great playground next to the pool!)

Lake Eva Water Park Pool Haines City FL
Lake Eva Water Park + Aquatic Center in Haines City, FL

Here in Florida we are surrounded by water – pools, lakes, the ocean – and every child and adult should learn to swim! We’ve put together a list of places to take swimming lessons in Lakeland, Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales & across Polk County.

Pools and Splash Pads Lakeland Polk County

Visit a Spring to go Swimming or Tubing

Spend the day at one of Florida’s springs near you for a real Florida adventure. Most springs are 72 degrees year-round, providing a refreshing day of swimming, tubing, and outdoor summer fun.

Florida Springs Tubing Swimming

Summer Reading Programs

If you’re looking for new ways to keep your kids excited about reading during the summer months, we’ve got a list of resources for you including FREE summer reading programs that allow your kids to earn prizes! There are also many great websites to use as resources for incorporating reading books with hands-on activities, writing prompts, mobile apps, and more. {Need new books for summer reading? We can help you find free books near you!}

Free Summer Library Programs

Libraries in Lakeland and Polk County offer FREE kids summer activities to keep children and families engaged all summer long. Summer library programs include a variety of hands-on activities, storytimes, movies, performances, guest speakers, musicians, and more. You can have fun and learn something new, all at the same time. Some events require advance registration, but all library programs are FREE!

Free Roller Skating

Kids can skate FREE two times a week at Skate World in Lakeland when you sign up online for the Kids Skate Free program. (Skate rental is extra).

Free Bowling

Do your kids enjoy bowling? Or maybe want to give it a try for the first time? You can sign up for Kids Bowl Free and enjoy free bowling for kids all summer long at Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven and Incredibowl in Lake Wales.

Free + $1 Summer Movies

We have 5 local movie theaters that offer free or $1 summer movies including Cinemark in Lakeland, Cobb/CMX in Lakeland and Winter Haven, Regal Theater in Lake Wales, and Premiere Cinemas in Plant City.

Free Workouts + Gym Membership for Teens

Exercise at home with these free online exercise videos. Includes kid-friendly videos, yoga, and actual workout sessions you can do as a family.

Teens can sign up for a Planet Fitness free summer pass – valid all summer from June 1 – August 31.

Father’s Day

If you’re looking for something to do Father’s Day weekend, including places offering free admission or free food deals just for dad, check out our Father’s Day Guide. It also has a list of gift ideas to help you think of the perfect gift for the sports enthusiast, outdoorsman, daredevil, or music loving guy in your life.

4th of July Fireworks + Events

Nothing says SUMMER like 4th of July festivities, picnics, family fun, baseball, live entertainment and FIREWORKS!

We’ve got a list of all the places to find 4th of July Fireworks near you in Polk County, including Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale, Haines City, Bartow, Lake Wales, Davenport, Lake Alfred, and even LEGOLAND Florida.

Prep for Hurricane Season

Hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1 to November 30. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is our motto here in central Florida! Use our list of hurricane preparation tips to be sure you’ve got the supplies you need in case of a hurricane. The Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is June 1-14 AND August 24 – September 6 – there is no sales tax on hurricane supplies during those weeks (TIP – many supplies are also things you use year round!)

Back to School

We don’t even want to THINK about going back to school until we’ve made the most of our summer vacation, but when the time comes we want you to know where you can find the info you need. Our Ultimate Back to School Guide is full of helpful info including:

✦ Dates for the 2024 Tax Free Weekend in Florida (HINT – it is a full 14 days this year)
✦ Find Back to School events and free school supplies.
✦ See the 2024 – 2025 Polk County School Calendar to get the date for the first day of school.

More Free Summer Fun

Admission to Bok Tower Gardens is FREE on the last Thursday and Friday of every month from May – August. {Registration required}

✦ Explore the outdoors and find an outdoor hiking trail in Polk County including local favorites spots like Circle B, Holloway Park, Colt Creek State Park, and Lakeland Highlands Scrub.

✦ Let out your bikes and go on a family bike ride.

✦ Walk around Lake Hollingsworth or find another paved walking path or scenic trail that is a great place to get some exercise, go for a run, rollerblade, or just take a leisurely stroll to enjoy being outdoors.

✦ Let your kids get their energy out at a local park and playground! When it’s really hot, visit a shaded playground in Lakeland.

✦ Check out the huge pirate ship playground in Lake Parker Park – the Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing.

✦ Visit a themed playground including Common Ground (Fire Truck / Fire Station), Woodlake Park (Train), or McGee Park (Cars)

✦ Drive east or west and spend the day at the beach!

✦ Look for alligators, eagles, and other amazing wildlife at Circle B Bar Reserve – named one of the “Top 51 Places in the US to See Wildlife” by USA Today! Entry is FREE.

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

✦ Dig for sharks teeth and fossils at the Mulberry Phosphate MuseumMake sure you bring a small shovel or other item to dig through the rock pile, and something to sit on – you won’t want to kneel.

✦ The Winter Haven Splash Pad and Lakeland Splash Pad are open year round. 

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

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

✦ 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.

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

✦ Explore the Polk Museum of Art. Admission is free, reservations are required right now. Open Tuesday – Saturday.

✦ Play and explore at the Florida Air Museum – keep an eye on their social media for special events.

✦ Visit a museum. We can help you find free museums near you or museums with discount admission days.

✦ Learn more about local history at the Polk County History Center.

✦ Check out past Zoom & Vroom Videos and head out to explore Polk County.

✦ If you’re going on a road trip this summer, be sure to keep our list of car games for kids handy for when the kiddos get antsy!

✦ Make a shopping list and save during 3 sales tax weekends in Florida (they are actually 10 -14 days) including the Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday in June and August (hurricane and emergency supplies), Freedom Summer for July (outdoor gear, camping supplies, arts and culture memberships and tickets, and more), and the Florida Back to School Sales Tax Holiday at the end of July, beginning of August.

✦ Play a game of football, soccer or throw a Frisbee in an open field – we’ve got a list of places where you can play outdoors.

✦ 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. 

Things to Do Outdoors in Lakeland + Polk County

✦ In addition to all the free outdoor activities listed above, we have the ULTIMATE Guide to Outdoor Fun that is your best resource for finding outdoor activities to do with your family year round! Here are some of the highlights:

✦ Play mini golf – Family Fun Center in Lakeland has an 18 hole outdoor miniature golf course.

✦ Visit Bok Tower – one of the most beautiful places in Polk County. Kids can explore Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden.

Rent a canoe or go on a kayak tour on a nearby river, lake, or along Florida’s coast.

✦ For a really unique summer experience, book a clear kayak adventure.

✦ Go on a Drive-Thru Safari at Safari Wilderness in Lakeland.

✦ Just a short drive from Lakeland, you can see Old Florida on an airboat tour

✦ Go to a drive-in movie. Silvermoon Drive-In is a Lakeland favorite.

✦ Head to River Ranch for the Saturday Night Rodeo.

✦ Have a day of fun at LEGOLAND Florida Resort or Peppa Pig Theme Park.

Indoor Summer Fun

✦ We have the ULTIMATE Guide to Indoor Fun in Lakeland that is your best resource for finding indoor activities to to do with your family year round! Use the link above for a full list, here are some of the highlights:

✦ Head to Family Fun Center for Miniature Golf, Funtasia soft play, Redemption Games, Arcade Games, Vault Assault Lazer Maze, and much more! Fun for all ages. Don’t miss their Lazer Tag arena!

✦ Bounce the day away at a Ninja-Warrior style kids indoor trampoline park in Lakeland.

✦ If you want active indoor fun, check out a local roller skating rink or indoor ice skating rink.

✦ Find an indoor playground where your kids can climb, slide, and burn off some of that endless energy!

✦ Whether you prefer retro arcade games, pinball machines, ticket redemption, or love playing games just for fun, these arcades in Lakeland and Winter Haven provide fun for the whole family.

✦ Kids, teenagers, and adults will enjoy a heart-thumping game of lazer tag as you run, dart, and try to find the best hiding place while you defend your team’s base.

✦ If your family loves a challenge, head to one of Lakeland’s indoor Escape Rooms.

✦ We have a variety of movie theater experiences here in Lakeland and Polk County including IMAX, 3-D, D-Box motion seats, comfy reclining chairs, food and drinks during your movie, and more.

✦ Whether you play Little League Baseball or Softball OR are just looking for indoor family fun, check out Lakeland’s indoor batting cages.

✦ These unique indoor “eatertainment” venues are new(ish) to Lakeland and so much fun! Ax throwing, golf simulators, and more.

✦ Test your aim with a trip to the indoor archery range.

✦ Bowling is a favorite in my house! Bowl a few games at these 5 local bowling alleys. Check Groupon for a great deal at AMF Bowling (affiliate link).

✦ These arts and crafts studios allow you to create your own masterpiece – paint your own pottery, assemble a mosaic, or make jewelry.

Summer Food Fun

✦ Head to HTeaO Lakeland for a refreshing iced tea – 24 flavors to choose from!

✦ Find the best Ice Cream in Lakeland – we’ve got a list to get you started.

✦ Go out to eat as a family – check out our list of places where KIDS EAT FREE!

✦ Head to Charlie’s Donuts, Hole in One Donuts, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, or another favorite place for donuts near you for a sugar filled summer breakfast treat!

✦ Visit the Downtown Farmers Curb Market for fresh produce and other local goods every Saturday from 8am-2pm

✦ Pick up fresh local produce at a local Farmers Market – there are 5 across Polk County

✦ Go on a picnic. One of our favorite locations is Peterson Park and then we walk the nature trails and boardwalks afterwards. See our list of 10 Favorite Picnic Spots in Lakeland.

✦ Find a local Bingo Night – kid friendly games can be found at local restaurants where it is free to play and families can win gift cards as prizes.

✦ Use your knoggin at Trivia Night – the perfect blend of entertainment and fun competition. Trivia at local restaurants is free to play and a great activity with teens or kids old enough to participate. We can help with a list of trivia nights in Lakeland and Polk County.


Only upcoming events show below. These events feed from our master calendar and are single day Summer events. Use the SHOW MORE EVENTS button at the bottom to see more events for the current month. Use the Arrows to see next month’s events.

Visit our calendar page for ALL upcoming events and summer activities.

June 2024

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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.