Answered: Your picks for Lakeland’s hidden gems

From food and drink to retail and attractions — we asked you for what hidden gems make Lakeland the best and you delivered.

Four white plates sit on a brown wooden table. Two contain two slices of French toast while the other two contain scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage links.

You’re looking at Cozy Oaks’ “French Toast Special” — two slices of French toast, two eggs, two sausage links, and two slices of bacon.

Photo by @thelaltoday

We asked you for the best off the beaten path spots in Lakeland to help us expand our horizons — and you understood the assignment. From hole-in-the-wall eateries to unique vintage stores, you showed pride in place through these deep-cut picks.


  • Cozy Oaks, 1201 E. Orange St.| This spot came up several times and it’s understandable why it did. From the homey diner feel to the vast menu of classic brunch favorites, it’s a 10/10 for us.
  • Flavor Nation, 817 N. Massachusetts Ave. | While this fast food restaurant specializes in various international cuisines, reader Ryan H. says, “I always get the chicken wings. Delicious, inexpensive, and they feed the homeless whenever they are able to.”

Honorable mentions: Elena’s Cuban Cafe, Savory Thai

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Did you know Lugo’s Craft Distillery created a specialty secret menu item for LALtoday readers during our Drink Up Week in 2022.


  • Lugo’s Craft Distillery, 2500 Drane Field Rd., Ste. 208
    | Family-owned + operated, Lugo’s specializes in handcrafted rum spirits. The lounge was mentioned by several readers as having a “relaxed and quieter vibe.”
  • The Pink Piano, 1015 S. Florida Ave. | This venue has an assortment of local musicians and comedians that perform live for its patrons Tuesday-Saturday.

Honorable mentions: Quinteassance, Southern Glazer’s Rooftop Bar

The sun setting over Lake Hunter with palm trees silhouetted in the foreground

Catch the sunset over Lake Hunter every night.

Photo via @julio__garza


  • Holloway Park, 2402 Holloway Park Dr. | With 362 acres of nature preserve and trails, Holloway Park has outdoor activities for the whole family, including an 18-hole disc golf course.
  • Lake Hunter | Covering 91 acres, Lake Hunter is described by Reader Mary G. as “a gem for bird watching... The purple gallinules are friendly and outgoing!”

Honorable mentions: Tenoroc Public Use Area, Three Parks Trail

A storefront is shown. It is tan brick with an open portico. The brick has a sign with a swan that says "Dixieland Relics." Under the portico, there are vintage cars and other vintage items. Outside there are several potted plants and a welcome sign.

No matter your taste or budget, Dixieland Relics has something sure to pique your interest.

Photo by @thelaltoday via Google Maps


  • Dixieland Relics, 949 S. Florida Ave.| Reader Sarah R. describes this eclectic spot as “curated by someone who knows what will trend next… There is something for every price range and budget.”
  • Calypso Isles, 839 N. Massachusetts Ave., Ste. 109 | Lakelanders can find a wellness community through this shop’s products, classes, and experiences.

Honorable mentions: Low Country Vintage, Home Essentials

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