We’ve all been there: Someone’s trying to give you directions by describing 10 lefts, 20 rights, and a jumble of cardinal directions. Isn’t it easier to just point out a landmark?
That’s exactly what we’re doing. We have a few of the most recognizable Lakeland landmarks — from the Southgate Sign to Lake Mirror’s Frances Langford Promenade. Not only are these local icons easy to remember, but they’ll also get you where you need to go in a jiffy.
Tax Collector for Polk County
Address: 916 N. Massachusetts Ave.
Nearby: Haus 820, The Yard on Mass
There’s something iconic about our city’s neon signs —even our Tax Collector’s office gets it. The building was once home to a 1950s-era Publix store, and it keeps its signature green hue today.
Southside Cleaners Sign
Address: 901 S. Florida Ave.
Nearby: 360 Unlimited, Low Country Vintage
No drive through Dixieland is complete without a glance at the Southside Cleaner’s quote of the day. The seafoam green and sunny starburst sign has been around since 1962 and is curated with different phrases on the marquee throughout the week.
Address: 941 E. Main St.
Nearby: Jenkins Lincoln, Boring Business Systems
This spinning neon art piece was designed by Warren Milks between 1961-1970. It’s been dubbed “Sputnik” because it looks like the satellites that were launched in the 1950s. The Roto-Sphere is so much of a Lakeland landmark that pilots use it as a reference point at night.
The Frances Langford Promenade
Nearby: The Joinery, Lake Mirror Complex, Catapult
Listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, the promenade was completed in 1928 and later dedicated to Lakeland native Frances Langford. It’s now home to events like the Lakeland Christmas Parade and Red, White & Kaboom.
The Polk Theatre
Address: 121 S. Florida Ave.
Nearby: Little Lake Play, Oates Building
The Polk Theatre first opened in 1928 and was one of the first local spots with air conditioning. If the glowing sign catches your eye, head inside to see a movie and take in the Mediterranean-inspired building design.
Southgate Shopping Center
Address: 2515 S. Florida Ave.
Nearby: Publix, Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware
Built in 1957, the Southgate Shopping Center transformed the Polk County skyline — now, you’d be hard-pressed to find an illustration of Lakeland that doesn’t include it. Its claim to fame was a cameo in the 1990 film “Edward Scissorhands.” More recently, it was also used for Disney’s movie “The One and Only Ivan” in 2018.
Publix Water Tower
Address: 3335 New Tampa Hwy.
Nearby: Publix distribution centers, Silvermoon Drive-In
This water tower, nicknamed “Hydrocake,” was built in 1982. The tower stands tall at 146 feet, and it’s topped with 8-ft tall illuminated candles that represent Publix’s past and future. It can provide 250,000 gallons of water per minute for the supermarket’s nearby production and distribution centers.
The Dixieland Dragon
Address: 118 W. Park St.
Nearby: Born & Bread Bakehouse, Waller Centre
A welder used scrap metal from Dixieland Relics to create a public art installation. Pay this mythical beast a visit on your next trip to the Dixieland neighborhood.
What did we miss? If you know a landmark that’s not on the list, let us know using this survey.