Where to stay, play and spend the day: 20+ things to do in Lakeland

A guide to must see attractions, restaurants, and shows for out of town guests in Lakeland, FL.

Photo on outside corner showing the hotel sign in front of the Terrace Hotel

The Terrace Hotel, right in the heart of downtown Lakeland | Photo by the LALtoday team

Photo by LALtoday

Table of Contents

If you’re hosting out-of-town guests in Lakeland, but aren’t sure where to take them or what sights to see, we’ve got plenty of recommendations for you to build the perfect itinerary for your visitors.


If your visitors are looking for hotel recommendations, here are some local-approved places to stay:

The Terrace Hotel Lakeland, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, 329 E Main St. | $130+

This classic boutique hotel is in the heart of downtown. Each suite has a private bedroom and a bathroom overlooking the city and Lake Mirror.

Camp Margaritaville, 361 Denton Ave. (Auburndale) | Contact property for pricing

This relaxing RV Resort features cabana cabin rentals on a beautiful private property surrounded by Florida greenery.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Lakeland, 511 W Lime St. | $154+

Located by the RP Funding Center, this hotel has 24/7 gym access and a pool to keep visitors refreshed from the Florida heat.

A white fountain moves water from pool to pool, framed by palm trees.

The fountain at Hollis Gardens

Photo via @thewanderingconk


Is it even a trip to Lakeland without seeing Hollis Gardens? You can also take your visitors to the Mass Market Wall at 822 N. Massachusetts Ave. for the perfect family photo. If you’ve got any architectural buffs in the group, head to Florida Southern College’s Water Domeconstructed by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Eat and drink

If your guests need coffee to get going in the morning, but you’re not exactly a baristaConcord Coffee, Hillcrest Coffee, Pressed, Mitchell’s, and Black & Brew are all locally owned favorites.

Lakeland is home to four breweries. Swan Brewing, Brew Hub, Dissent Craft Brewing Company, and Craft + Kitchen are some local favorites that also serve lunch and dinner.

Need plans after sunset? Grab libations from some of Lakeland’s favorite bars, Revival and The Yard on Mass.

As for food — some Lakelanders’ personal favorites include Harry’s Seafood, Nineteen61, Patio850, Palace Pizza, and brunch at Fresco’s Southern Kitchen & Bar. Brunch in Lakeland is an absolute must.

Locals also love The Joinery, Mojo Federal Swine & Spirits, Taco Bus, and Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant and recommend satisfying your sweet tooth at Mayday Ice Cream (located inside of The Joinery)order “The Aviator” ice cream.

We’ve also got plenty of articles to help you navigate the local food scene. You can’t miss these classic Lakeland restaurants that are a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

And if you’re gluten-free, we’ve got you covered there too. Check out this list of 20+ local restaurants with gluten-free options.

A triple scoop of multicolored ice cream in a waffle cone held in front of The Joinery's sign

For the whole family

Our family-friendly list wouldn’t be complete without the Florida Children’s Museum, which opened in November 2022 at the 168-acre Bonnet Springs Park, complete with an aerial walkway through the treetops, a 500-sqft treehouse, a lagoon for kayaking, and more.

Plan your escape with the whole family at the Lakeland Escape Room, or check out Family Fun Center for arcade games and mini putt-putt. See a kid-friendly show at the Lakeland Community Theatre —which has featured all sorts of lively musicals such as Spongebob Squarepants the Musical and Mamma Mia.

Outdoor activities

Let the kids — or grandkidsrun around and explore Common Ground Playground or grab some fresh guava pastries from La Imperial Bakery and head to Lake Morton for a picnic. Walking around the lake bird-sighting is the perfect way to get some fresh air while taking in all of the beauty Lakeland has to offer. Looking for gators? Load up the car and spend the afternoon exploring Circle B Bar Reserve’s alligator alley.

One of the best things about our city is our proximity to some amazing hiking spots. Here is our guide to a range of hikes in the area.

LALtoday Polk Theatre

Polk Theatre in Lakeland

Photo via @mermaizingrealtor

Indoor activities

Beat the Florida heat by checking out the indoor galleries at the Polk Museum of Art, or view a film at the historic Polk Theatre, where the one and only Elvis Presley came to perform live.

If you’ve got any sports fans in the group, check out the various sports leagues in our area to skim for game schedules.

Happy exploring.

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