Lakeland, a town roughly midway between Tampa and Orlando, is appropriately named. Within the immediate vicinity find 38 named lakes and numerous smaller ones ranging in size from petitl (Lake Blanton earns the badge at 2.5 acres) to expansive Lake Parker (2272 acres) With this much water on hand, it's no wonder that water sports are favored here, though with big cities close by (and their respective big name attractions) Lakeland isn't a bad spot to base for access to the best of central Florida.
This is in part why Money Magazine has recently rated little Lakeland the 10th best place to live in America; renovation efforts have breathed life back into the historic downtown area, which sprouts an assortment of galleries, shops, restaurants, bars and over 150 churches (how much this has to do with Money Magazine's ranking is hard to say) At the core of town is Lake Mirror Park, which is currently under reconstruction with a new amphitheater and pedestrian walkways the end goal.
Lakeland is close to all the major attractions, but it has some interesting points of its own. The Historic Bok Sanctuary, a 157-acre garden perched on Florida's highest geographical point has a nature preserve and walking trail and is host to many wonderful concerts. Thousands of avid aviators flock to town annually for the Sun 'n Fun Fly, an extraordinary week-long aviation workshop at the regional airport.
In its 50 municipal parks, Lakeland offers a tremendous array of sporting facilities. Boating and fishing, of course, are at the top of the list. There are a variety of other activities such as baseball, hiking, skating, golf and tennis that keep the active crowd happy. For folks who are more comfortable warming the bleachers than participating in sports, there are all sorts of spectator games. The best bets in town are the Detroit Tigers, who come to Lakeland for spring training, and Lakeland's USA International Speedway stock car racing.
Lakeland is an alluring small town located mid-way between Tampa and Orlando on Interstate 4.