Plus, free parking downtown
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Today’s Forecast

77º | Light thunderstorms and rain | 90% chance of rain | Sunrise 7:20 a.m. | Sunset 5:49 p.m.

Would you like to get dinner?
Any place in Lakeland can be romantic with a little creativity.|Photo by @carlycashman3
Kids, this is the story of how I met your mother, and it was all thanks to LALtoday.

Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly how the 2000s sitcom went, but if Ted Mosby had consulted us for date night ideas, we could’ve shaved the show down to two seasons (and saved his kids a lot of time).

Regardless, whether you’ve met “the one” or are hoping to impress someone new, we’ve got 18+ local date night ideas that are legen — wait for it — dary.

For the ones who want a night out on the town

Screen Shot 2019-07-25 at 3.39.14 PM

Cigar lovers can visit the humidor for their next selection at Lakeland Loft.


Photo by @LakelandLoft

  • Snag tickets for the next production at the Lakeland Community Theatre.
  • Enjoy live music, go line dancing, or take the stage for karaoke at Union Hall.
  • Looking for a swanky evening? Stop by Lakeland Loft for live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, plus premier cigars, hand-crafted drinks, and elevated views of historic Munn Park.

If the way to their heart is through their stomach

The Terrace Grille's dining room has plush orange chairs, large windows, and two glasses of white wine on the table.

Celebrate your next special occasion at The Terrace Grille’s newly renovated dining room.


Photo via @terracegrillelakeland

  • For those who want to feel a little fancy, enjoy a white tablecloth and candlelit dinner at Nineteen61, which has been featured in Best of Central Florida for fine dining four times.
  • The Terrace Grille, located in downtown Lakeland’s historic Terrace Hotel, was named a winner of the OpenTable Diners’ Choice award for 2023. Bring your date for fine dining, craft cocktails, and desserts.
  • Wine aficionados and lovers of Italian cuisine will feel right at home at Scarpa’s Italian Restaurant.

If you love the great outdoors

  • Fall in love with Lakeland’s natural beauty on one of these local hiking trails.
  • Swing into your new romance at one of our beloved public parks.
  • Sit beside one of Swan City’s iconic lakes and impress your date with its history.
What’s your go-to activity for a memorable date?

A. Romantic candlelit dinner
B. Cozy movie night at home
C. Adventurous outdoor activity
D. Other
Monday, Sept. 18
  • Free Child Development Screenings | Monday, Sept. 18 | 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. | Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center, 650 Bonnet Springs Blvd., Lakeland | Free | Check your child’s development with a quick screening — appointments are recommended.
  • Yoga for Beginners | Monday, Sept. 18 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m. | Simpson Park Community Center, 1725 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Lakeland | $5 | Bring your mat and water to this class for all levels of yogis 16 or older — locations vary by day.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
  • Author Spotlight Night | Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 6-8 p.m. | Pressed, 213 E. Bay St., Lakeland | Free | Get books signed, ask questions, and hear from local authors and Dwight and Rebecca MacPherson of HP Comics at this public author talk.
  • Unchained Melodies | Tuesday, Sept. 19 | 7:30-9 p.m. | Robert Davis Performing Arts Center at Florida Southern College, 1100 Johnson Ave., Lakeland | Free | The music faculty of Florida Southern College will perform arias from opera, jazz, and Broadway songs in the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Recital Hall.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
  • Live Trivia w/ RBQ Catering | Wednesday, Sept. 20 | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | Swan Brewing, 115 W. Pine St., Lakeland | Free entry | Compete for prizes with live trivia hosted by Hold On I Know This.
Thursday, Sept. 21
  • Carrión Hispanic Leadership Center Lecture Series | Thursday, Sept. 21 | 9 a.m.-3 p.m. | Bush Chapel, Southeastern University, 1000 Longfellow Blvd., Lakeland | Free | Attend this lecture series to learn about the Hispanic community’s contributions to theological education, ministry, and advocacy.
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Plan Ahead
🪅 Inside scoop: Who to see at the Hispanic Heritage Celebration
a group photo of Bidi Bidi Banda group memeers
Among the many performers is Bidi Bidi Banda, who joins us all the way from Austin.|Photo via Flickr/Ray_LAC
Experience the vibrancy, rhythms, and flavors of Hispanic and Latino cultures at Bonnet Springs Park’s ¡Bienvenido a BSP!: Hispanic Heritage Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 12-8 p.m.

The free, family-friendly event will highlight Hispanic and Latino artisans, performers, foodie experiences, activities, and more.

Here’s the inside scoop on who + what to see at this can’t-miss cultural event:
  • Live music: Among the diverse lineup of performers is headliner Bidi Bidi Banda, a Selena tribute band.
  • Cultural performances: Showcases include Venezuelan Danza Y Tambor, Mariachi Guadalupe, and Flamenco Del Sur.
  • Dancing: Dance the day (and night) away with the help of a live DJ.
  • Artisan market: Featured artisans include Mamacita Lifestyle Co., Me and Mom Jewelry, and Chicas Collab.
  • Food: Savor those Hispanic flavors with Taco Riendo, Tito’s Latin Cuisine, Nineteen 61, Mucho Boba, and more.
Bonus: The park’s Depot Cafe + Rooftop Garden Bar will offer a special menu and drinks to event attendees.
News Notes
  • Lakeland city commissioners are voting this morning on a proposed dog park at East Main Street and East Rose Street, across the street from the Lakeland Fire Department. If approved, the park would tentatively open in September of 2024. (LkldNow)
  • City leaders are exploring potential solutions for the clearance issues in the Sloan Avenue Bridge. In addition to vertical clearance, a lack of bicycle or pedestrian paths through the bridge is also a concern. Now, options including a total reconstruction or a separate pedestrian/bicycle tunnel are being considered. (The Ledger)
  • The Polk County History Center is expanding its “Women’s Suffrage Movement” exhibit to include the work of Delta Sigma Theta, a Black Greek Letter Organization. Learn about the sorority’s regional + national impacts on the suffrage movement at the soft opening on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 4-6 p.m. (The Ledger)
  • After two inductee-less years, the Polk Arts and Cultural Alliance is adding six individuals to its Hall of Fame. The organization took a break from inductions during the pandemic; on Oct. 17, a gala will be held to honor the new members at Bonnet Springs Park. Tickets are on sale now. (The Ledger)
Try This
  • Polk Museum of Art has a new exhibit in the Perkins Gallery. Stop by to view “The Weight of Paper: Works by Women in the Permanent Collection” now through Jan.14, 2024. Learn more about the exhibit’s thesis on female artists and paper works.
  • Lakeland filmmaker Jonathan Sawyer is working on two feature films dealing with mental health. Sawyer’s documentary “I Am This Dark World’s Light” uses interviews and footage from local outreach events to discuss suicide prevention. “Remember,” Sawyer’s narrative drama, will begin filming in Florida + Texas this January. (The Ledger)
  • The Apiary Studios is working with Richard Elfman on a second project. While exact details are TBA, the biz described the project as “weird, fun,” and “featuring long ago creatures.” Check out their other projects while you wait.
  • Kelley Buick GMC’s annual Twenty Buck Truck raffle raises funds for local students in 4H and FFA programs. The Bartow dealership will draw its winner on Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m. Attend to watch Sheriff Grady Judd congratulate the winner — will it be you? Enter the raffle online. (WFTS)
  • Learn, experience + enjoy an evening in the Florida Air Museum with a scavenger hunt, visit to the E.L.E.V.A.T.E co-working space, photo op with an F-14, and mini-tastings from Catapult Kitchen’s members on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus – Prop 75. Learn more and register.*
Try This
  • Audiologists are raving about the latest generation of Horizon hearing aids. Why the excitement? They deliver unmatched speech clarity in an ultra-discreet design. The best part? offers a local, 45-day no-risk trial, so you can try before you buy. Secure your spot.*
  • How many credit cards are in your wallet? Make your answer “one.” The Ascent’s credit card experts personally signed up for this card because of its perfect mix of benefits: up to 5% cash back, a big bonus, no annual fee, the list goes on. Learn more.*
  • Was getting more active on your 2023 New Year’s resolution list? Good news: There’s still time. See our roundup of four runs to join in the last four months of 2023 — and be proud of yourself for *actually* completing a resolution. (We knew you could do it.) *
Park it right here
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Parking options downtown, labeled by color + type | Screenshot via the City of Lakeland’s interactive parking map
With fall events on the horizon, we’re preparing for the one certainty that’s right up there with death and taxes — parking.

Did you know that your car is tagged downtown to track how long you’ve been parked, or that the City of Lakeland has an interactive parking map and app?

Let’s talk free parking

Free on-street parking is available to everyone downtown for up to two hours daily and is unlimited after 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and all weekend long. Car tagging and tracking begin at 9 a.m., and your two hours start as soon as you park.

This means that your time will continue whether you’re parked on Main Street or Kentucky Avenue, accruing time within the same zone, unless extended by $1 per hour, up to an added two hours.

Wondering where else you can park for free? Keep reading for the city’s free garage, lot, valet, and accessible options.
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