Lakeland’s most iconic landmarks

We’re giving you the 411 on the 863’s landmarks — from the Southgate Sign to “Sputnik.” Learn about their history, fun facts, and just why Lakelanders and visitors alike find them so iconic.

The arches of the loggia stretch into a blue sky.

Learn the secrets of the loggia by taking a free lake tour. | Photo by @thelaltoday

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.

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The Tax Collector building shines bright at night.

Photo via @twothirdsrochambeau

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.

A vintage sign reading Southside: A backward poet writes inverse.

The Southside Cleaners sign always keeps us laughing.

Photo via @existentialismexist

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.

A neon star in blue, orange, and red glows over a parking lot.

Lakeland’s roto-sphere is one of only four still operating throughout the country.

Photo via @paulhavranek

“Sputnik” Roto-Sphere
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.

Lights surrounding Lake Mirror at night time in Lakeland, FL

Take a lakeside stroll under the lights of the Frances Langford Promenade.

Photo via @jbonilla72

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.

LALtoday Polk Theatre

See a classic movie at this theatre that’s nearly a century old.

Photo via @mermaizingrealtor

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’s iconic arch

Have you spotted this iconic arch as it’s changing colors?

Photo provided by Southgate Shopping Center

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.

An aerial view of the Publix water tower shaped like a three-layer birthday cake topped with candles

The birthday cake water tower is even topped with candles.

Photo courtesy of Publix

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.


Don’t worry, the Dixieland Dragon is friendly.

Photo via @gatearty

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.

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