Take a quick trip to these cities near Lakeland

In need of a one-day getaway? We’re sharing our readers’ favorite things to do, see, and eat in towns within a quick drive of Swan City.


Will your travels take you to downtown Winter Haven?

Photo provided by Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce

Table of Contents

If you’ve been reading LALtoday for a while now, you’re probably a Lakeland pro, but have you explored any of our nearby cities?

We’re planning day trip guides to your favorite towns near Swan City that you can reach without having to refill your gas tank. All we need is your favorite activities, restaurants, coffee shops, or attractions. Fill out our survey with your pro tips and can’t-miss attractions in your favorite cities — they might be featured in our guides.

Winter Haven, FL | Photo by @theclevision

Paddle, boat, or swim your way around Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes.

Photo by @theclevision

Winter Haven

The first stop in our series is Winter Haven, the Chain of Lakes City. It’s home to Polk County’s only theme park and 50 lakes — that’s even more than Lakeland has.

LAL-Visit Central Florida water skiing event-9.27.22.jpg

Winter Haven is known as the Water Ski Capital of the World.

Photo provided by Visit Central Florida

What to do

Winter Haven gets its nickname because of its lakes interconnected by canals, making it the perfect place for getting out on the water. Reader Katie D. recommends booking a tour with The Living Water Boat Cruises to learn the area’s history.

Looking for entertainment? The Cypress Gardens Water Ski Team has been impressing audiences for over 100 years and puts on monthly free shows on Lake Silver. Head downtown for classic movies and concerts at the Historic Ritz Theatre or comedy shows at Laugh Out Lounge.

If you’re visiting with little ones, LEGOLAND Florida is the place to be. Families can ride attractions, splash in the water park, or visit the Peppa Pig Theme Park.

A hand holding a very large hamburger

We also recommend a juicy burger from Adler’s.

Where to eat

You’ll work up an appetite after all that exploring. Reader Zack S. recommends starting the day with coffee from Haven Coffee Roasters and a bite from Honeycomb Bread Bakers.

Reader Sandi C. loves their casual lunch spot: Lucille’s American Café. Other readers recommended Arabellas Ristorante for dinner (Katie D. even called it the best Italian restaurant in Florida).

Toast to a successful day trip with a glass from Grove Roots Brewing or Obscure Wine Company. Winter Haven locals will recommend a visit to Andy’s Igloo for a milkshake or ice cream sundae to enjoy on your way back to Swan City.

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