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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 activities in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Bartow, Mulberry, Auburndale, Lake Wales, Haines City, and across Central Florida.

FAVORITE SUMMER ACTIVITIES

SUMMER CAMPS

SUMMER FUN AT HOME

PARKS + PLAYGROUNDS

SWIMMING POOLS + SPLASH PADS

SWIM LESSONS

SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

LIBRARY PROGRAMS + STORYTIMES

ONLINE CAMPS + DIY ACTIVITIES

FREE SCHOOL LUNCH PICK-UP

KIDS SKATE FREE

KIDS BOWL FREE

FREE + $1 SUMMER MOVIES

OUTDOOR FUN

FREE FUN

INDOOR FUN

SUMMER HOLIDAYS + EVENTS

LAST DAY OF SCHOOL

FATHER’S DAY

4TH OF JULY

THINGS TO DO IN LAKELAND + POLK COUNTY IN SUMMER

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 80 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.

Celebrate the Last Day of School

The end of the 2020 – 2021 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+ activities for summer fun at home, and most require little or no preparation.

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 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.

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

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.

Free Summer Library Programs

Libraries in Lakeland and Polk County provide FREE summer activities to keep kids 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! (Shoe rental is extra).

Free + $1 Summer Movies

We have 4 local movie theaters that offer free or $1 summer movies. As of 5/10/21, we are still waiting for updates for Summer 2021.

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 in Polk County, including Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale, Haines City, Bartow, Lake Wales, Davenport, Lake Alfred, and even LEGOLAND Florida.

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.

Get the dates for the 2021 Tax Free Weekend in Florida (HINT – it is a full 10 days this year!)

Find Back to School events and free school supplies.

See the 2021 – 2022 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 Friday of every month from May – September.

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 at the Rotary Playground at Hernando’s Landing on Lake Parker.

Visit another themed playground including Common Ground (Fire Truck / Fire Station) and Woodlake Park (Train).

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.

Looking for a place to have a picnic? The weather is beautiful this time of year, we can help with a list of 10 Places to Enjoy a Picnic in Lakeland.

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. 

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 littlefreelibrary.org 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.

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

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

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.

Learn to wakeboard or improve your shredding skills at Elite Cable Park.

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.

Enjoy the music at an Outdoor Summer Concert in Winter Haven (ticketed event).

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.

Dreams Come True Entertainment is hosting a variety of events this summer at Enchanted Fairytale Hollow in Downtown Lakeland. Visit their Facebook Page for upcoming events.

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 Hole in One Donuts, Dunkin Donuts, or Krispy Kreme 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.

SUMMER EVENTS

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.

july 2021

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