Last year, Lakeland’s Parks, Recreation + Properties annual budget-in-brief was estimated at $44,101,548. This includes $16 million just for our city’s parks. So if you’re not taking advantage of what a portion of your hard earned tax dollars are doing, there’s no time to start like the present.
With over 70+ parks, trails, athletic fields + mini parks (yes, it’s a thing), it can be a tad overwhelming to know where to begin. Not to fret. We compiled a list of some of LKLD’s best parks. From where to have a great date to where to workout, we’ve got you covered.
Where to lose yourself in nature 🌲
If Circle B is often your first choice, you’ll enjoy Se7ven Wetlands for a bit of a longer trek in nature. Features: The outdoors project features 8.5 miles of scenic trail (and two bathrooms along the way). Visitors can expect to see a variety of bird species, otters, turtles, deer, snakes, wild hogs + alligators (because, Florida).
Pro Tip: If you’re venturing the whole trail, don’t forget the essentials: sunscreen, good walking shoes, bug spray + your favorite water bottle.
Where to study 📚
DYK: studying outside can actually boost brain power and help you retain information?
Features: Sit under one of the shaded pavillions at Dobbins Park with book or two. The partially fenced in location has restrooms, a climbing structure for all ages + a zipline. Why have study breaks when you can have zipline breaks?
Where to have a great date 💗
📍Tired of having the same “I don’t know, where do you want to eat” argument? Same.
Features: This park has over 15 restaurants surrounding it, your S.O. can enjoy your company, fresh air + whatever your own taste buds are calling you to. (Picnic baskets need not apply).
Pro tip: During the holidays, Munn Park is one of the most instagrammable locations in the 863.
Where to find serenity 😌
Most everyone knows about Hollis Garden, but have you ever been to Interlachen Park?
Features: The serene spot offers relaxation with abundant shade from giant trees. There aren’t any benches as this location, so if you’re not feeling grass stains, BYOC (bring your own chair).
Extras: SaddleCreek Park offers a great hiking trail.
Where to bring the kiddos 👩👦
📍Common Ground Playground
Coming from a family that includes 14 nieces + nephews, this park has always been my siblings first choice. Features: Boasted at the first “inclusive play experience,” in Lakeland, children of varying abilities are able to play side-by-side.
Pro tip: With so many activities and structures, the park itself is pretty big, and usually bustling on the weekends, so bring a friend to help you chase your rugrats.
Extras: Handley Park + The Rotary Playground in Hernando’s Landing at Lake Parker Park Planning a party? More info on reserving a pavillion here.
Where to cool off 💦
📍Barnett Family Park
Just because Florida’s hot all year long, doesn’t mean you have to be. Features: Right next to the Lake Mirror Amphitheater, the Barnett Family Park offers a picturesque labyrinth and, you guessed it, a splash pad.
Where to play sports ⚽
Can you really have parks without the rec?
Features: If you’re the next Serena Williams (Or, better yet, Niami Oska), check out Woodlake Park. Tennis courts as far as the eye can see.
Extras: Soccer more your style? The Southwest Sports Complex will make all your futbol dreams come true. Christina Park is for all you softball fanatics out there.
Where to break a sweat 🏃
Lakeland’s Holloway Park offers a way to run cross country without using your passport.
Features: Holloway Park has not one, but courses for cross-country events + a half marathon course. Each trail includes a start line that measures over 300 ft.
Extras: Check out one of the newest additions, opened by Pro-Football Hall of Fame Induction champ, Ray Lewis, Douglass M. Cook Park. Bike life calling you? Loyce Harpe Park is your first stop. Or grab one of the City’s Activity Passes for more athletic adventures.
Where to bring your pup 🐶
📍Dog Leg Woods
The dog days won’t ever be over for you + your four-legged fur baby at Dog Leg Woods, Lake Crago, Diogi Dog Park or even Auburndale Dog Park.
Features: A dog washing station at Dog Leg Woods to clean your pet’s paws before the ride back.
Fall weather for Floridians is essentially optimal outdoors weather, so for us, the park season is really just about to start. Check out The City of Lakeland’s handy Park Finder Map to start your park tour.
Don’t forget to tag your pics with #LALtoday for a chance to be featured or reposted.