Royal swans glide gracefully across dozens of lakes under full sun, palm trees waving along the banks. Some of the country’s most beautiful architecture is visible from a nearby college campus, while the lakefront downtown offers a stunning skyline of its own. While Lakeland, Florida may not be as famous as its nearby neighbors Orlando and Tampa, it is a unique city with plenty to offer.
And yes, the swans that populate the area lakes are indeed of royal lineage. In the early 1900s, swans were common throughout Lakeland, but eventually they disappeared – mainly due to alligators. One resident was so upset by the missing swans, he wrote to Queen Elizabeth in 1954. The royal family allowed two of their royal swans to be captured and sent to Lakeland, and the descendants of those royal swans are now gracing the many lakes around the city.
Speaking of the lakes, there are nearly 40 named lakes and several that are unnamed. If you rent an apartment in Lakeland, you’ll quickly adjust to being given directions based on lakes rather than streets, as in “Take a left when you reach Lake …” The largest lake in Lakeland is Lake Parker, and is popular for fishing and boating. Lake Parker also features a walking path around part of the lake.
Lakeland is home to several historic districts – including Florida Southern College. The college is home to the largest Frank Lloyd Wright architecture collection in the world and is considered one of the country’s most beautiful college campuses. The collection is called “Child of the Sun” and most of the buildings were built between 1940 and 1958. The Child of the Sun Visitor Center houses several exhibits as well as a gift shop and offers seasonal guided tours.
Lakeland is a beautiful city. Downtown’s Lake Mirror Park features a historic promenade and pedestrian walkways. Public art, the gorgeous Historic and Antiques District, the Polk Museum of Art, trolleys, antique stores, the Florida Air Museum, the Lakeland Center, and the 10,000 flowers of Hollis Garden will make downtown Lakeland your favorite place to be.
And it isn’t just on the lakes where you’ll discover swans – considered a “community mascot” of sorts, you’ll find swans everywhere – in murals, paintings, and sculptures. Public art displays also include gorgeous butterfly sculptures and some very realistic bronze figures by famous sculptor J. Seward Johnson.
If it’s natural beauty you want, head to Colt Creek State Park – a 5,067-acre park that offers horseback riding, biking, and hiking on 12 miles of trails. Picnicking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and bird-watching are also popular park activities – the park is home to three lakes.
But Lakeland isn’t just beautiful – the economy is also impressive. Lakeland is situated in the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa. It is home to several major businesses, such as Publix, FedEx, and Saddle Creek Corporation. Agriculture, tourism, and even phosphate mining add an impressive diversity to the economy. Colleges and universities dot the area, as well – Polk State College, Florida Southern College, Florida Polytechnic, and Southeastern University are all located in Lakeland.
If you’re ready to find your place under the tropical sun, start your search for Lakeland apartments and soon you’ll be enjoying this unique Central Florida city.