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Top 10 Things To Do in Lakeland + Polk County in October

October Top 10 Activities Lakeland FL

October is one of our readers’ favorite months (mine too!) and we love helping you find family-friendly events and activities to celebrate the fall season. Our calendar gets JAM PACKED in October with so many things to do in Lakeland – fall festivals, Trunk or Treats, and other Halloween themed events, so this is our Top 10 list to help you make sure the “can’t miss” events are on your calendar, including the ones that have nothing to do with pumpkins.

Since there is SO.MUCH.PLANNED this month, we’ve got a few more than 10 things listed below. You can always find a full list of events on our Lakeland + Polk County Calendar.

If you enjoy one of these events, be sure to let the venue know that you heard about it from Lakeland Mom.

Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to Fall & Halloween Activities for a full list of fun things to do this fall in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Polk County, and Central Florida including pumpkin patches, corn mazes, haunted houses, Halloween events, trunk or treats, drive-thru Halloween attractions, trick or treat details, and more.

Please check directly with event organizers for specific dates, discounts, current ticket prices, advance registration, and any last-minute changes. While we do our best to provide accurate information, we include an outside link so you can verify the details for all events and activities.

Events at the Aerospace Center for Excellence + Florida Air Museum

It is a busy month on the SUN ‘n FUN Campus! Events include:

Wings ‘n ThingsOctober 21 – This annual event at the Aerospace Center for Excellence is a “must-do” for family members of all ages. Experience the wonders of aerospace through a full day of free hands-on activities that range from a scavenger hunt with prizes to solar observations in a planetarium to constructing and launching rockets. This event is free.

SUN ‘n FUN Pumpkin Dash 5KOctober 28 – Join the Aerospace Center for Excellence for a Halloween themed 5K across the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus. Costumes are encouraged!

SUN ‘n FUN Family Spooktacular + Haunted CampgroundOctober 28 – Join SUN ‘n FUN for an evening of Spooktacular fun! Ms. Pat’s Traveling Emporium of Horror, Spooky Trail, Exhibitors, S’mores, Trick or Treating, and more. Halloween Spooktacular Admission is only $5 per car.

1st Birthday Bash at Bonnet Springs Park – Florida Children’s Museum – Children’s Resource Center

Get ready to party because it’s Bonnet Spring’s Park‘s BIRTHDAY! Head to BSP on Saturday, October 21 from 9AM – 9PM to celebrate the One Year Birthday Bash in true BSP style!

This FREE fun-filled day will be full of family-friendly activities like strolling performers, a petting zoo, a car show, live music, Lounge on the Lawn, and so much more. Plus special activities at the Florida Children’s Museum and Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center.

The excitement doesn’t end there, BSP is also hosting a movie under the stars, and fireworks to end the day of celebration!

Birthday Bash Bonnet Springs Park One Year Anniversary 2023

Celebrate Oktoberfest

Tis the season for Oktoberfest! Events include fun activities, delicious food, great music, stein hoisting competitions, keg rolling competitions, and of course – BEER.

Oktoberfest at Front Page Brewing in Bartow – September 30
Oktoberfest at Grove Roots Brewing in Winter Haven – October 1
Oktoberfest in Downtown Winter Haven Friday, October 6
Swantoberfest at Swan BrewingOctober 13-15
Bartoberfest in Bartow – October 20

Attend a special event

The events listed below are one day or one weekend only!

◈ Bonnet Springs Park is hosting a Hispanic Heritage Celebration. Get ready to embrace Hispanic and Latino cultures’ vibrant colors, flavors, and rhythms on Saturday, October 7, from 12 – 8 PM! This FREE family friendly event is one you won’t want to miss. From an artisan market to dancing and a live DJ, special offers from The Depot and Rooftop Bar, food trucks, Bidi Bidi Banda – a Selena tribute band, and so much more. Admission is free and the event is open to all ages!

Bartow Con will be held October 14 at the Bartow Civic Center. This event was created by the same people that brought you SyFy Bartow. BARTOW CON will be an indoor event with over 100 vendors, that will specialize in vintage toys, pop culture collectibles, unique collectibles, comic books and many other items.

◈ Join Florida Children’s Museum for a celebration of Hispanic heritage on October 14! This event features live performances, arts & crafts, children’s artwork on display, and more! Celebration is included with daily admission or museum membership. There is no additional cost to participate.

◈ The Scarecrow Festival at the Pioneer Florida Museum + Village in Dade City is a little bit of a drive from Lakeland but is unique fall fun on October 14.

◈ The Lakeland Cardboard Boat Challenge + Lakes Festival is fun for everyone! Register a team to build a cardboard boat (either pre-build or build on-site) OR simply come out to watch the festivities and explore the activities. Environmental Exhibitors will provide children’s activities, information on ways to protect our lakes, water ways and other environmental fun facts. Saturday, October 14

◈ The annual Red Ribbon Kids Fun Run is Saturday, October 28 around picturesque Lake Mirror. It’s a fun family event and parents may run with their child in the family heats. This 1k race is FREE for K-8 students (t-shirt included!) and only $5 for parents.

See a live performance

Both Theatre Winter Haven and Lakeland Community Theatre have family friendly shows in October!

Matilda the Musical at Theatre Winter Haven – October 5 – 29
Honk! Jr. at Lakeland Community Theatre – October 6 – 8

Check out the events in Downtown Lakeland

Head to Downtown Lakeland this month for family-friendly fun!

Friday, October 6 is First Friday – there will be a cookie contest!! 
Thursday, October 12 is the monthly Food Truck Rally
Saturday, October 28 is the Fall Night Market with hundreds of vendors

After School Art at the Polk Museum of Art

After School Art at the Polk Museum of Art runs from September 25 – October 30. This is a program designed for children (ages 5 & up) and their parent to learn together. Lessons vary in medium and are designed to be adapted for use at home. Each class is an independent lesson. Registration is not required. Held on Mondays from 4:30pm – 5:30pm (doors open at 4:20pm). FREE for Members, $5 Non-Members per child per visit.

Celebrate a Birthday

Do you celebrate any birthdays in October? I do! This is the #1 reason I love October – my birthday is on the 9th.

Our Birthday Party Guide and our list of Local Birthday Freebies in Lakeland & Polk County will get an update and refresh in October in honor of my big day and to help all of you moms looking to make your own birthday party plans with your family.

Get a jump start on Christmas Shopping at a Vendor Market

Polk State Fall Fest – October 14

Fall Festival + Craft Fair at Presbyterian Church in the Highlands Lakeland – October 14 {they also have a huge pumpkin patch!}

◈ Downtown Lakeland will be filled with vendors on Saturday, October 28 for the annual Fall Night Market

Corn Mazes + Fall Festivals

Local Corn Mazes, Farms, & weekend Fall Festivals are in full swing in October.

Harvest Holler Corn Maze is already open for the season, now through November 14 this year. If you’ve never been to Harvest Holler, it is a fall “must do.”

If you’re looking for a day trip, we also have info on all of the farms in Central Florida.

Visit the Pumpkin Patch

Here in Central Florida, we’ve discovered there is some confusion around the term “Pumpkin Patch.” While up north and in the midwest this usually means a visit to a farm to pick out a pumpkin and enjoy fall activities, pumpkin patches in Central Florida are typically just pumpkins on the front lawn of a church or at a produce stand because pumpkins aren’t traditionally grown in Florida.

Are you looking for:
🌽 A place to spend a few hours on a farm with hay rides, corn mazes, duck races, jumping pillows, live entertainment, and other fun activities where there is paid admission – click the link above for our list of Corn Mazes + Fall Festivals
🎃 A place to spend 30-45 minutes, take pumpkin photos, visit for free, buy a pumpkin – below you’ll find a list of pumpkin patches near you.

Get SCARED!!!!

The annual Polk County Sheriff’s Office Haunted Jail Tour is back by popular demand! For a $15 donation per adult (or $5 for kids under 10), you can scream to your heart’s delight on any of these four nights – Fri & Sat, Oct. 20 & 21, and Fri & Sat, Oct. 27 & 28 from 6:30 – 10:30 p.m. There will be PCSO agency members on-hand to watch the little ones whose parents want to tour but don’t want their children tagging along. Bounce house, a “dunk your deputy” dunk tank, and food trucks – fun for the entire family!

We have a full list of haunted houses in Central Florida.

Trunk or Treats and Halloween events

‘Tis the season for Trunk or Treats and Halloween events near you! With over 70 events in the “Fall & Halloween” category on our calendar, you should be able to find the perfect event(s) for your family – whether you’re looking for something on a specific date (select a date) or a specific location (we have a list for every city), our calendar makes it easy to find family fun.

You can find a full list of fall themed fun in our 2023 Fall + Halloween Guide.

More Things to do near you in October

Play Indoors – While we wait for cooler weather to arrive, we still love our air-conditioned spaces! We’ve got lots of indoor things to do in Lakeland + Polk County including laser tag, arcade games, roller skating, ice skating, bowling, indoor trampoline parks, museums and more. Perfect for a rainy day, a hot day, or just any day you’re looking for something to do as a family. 

Go on an Outdoor Adventure – Hiking, water sports, biking, mini-golf, animal adventures, playgrounds – we’ve got it all right here close to home. If you want to spend more time outside in September, we can help you find things to do outdoors in Lakeland and Polk County.

Find Things to do with Kids – Check out the ULTIMATE list of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland and Polk County.

Happy October!

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.