Make a Splash in Central Florida’s Parks and Lakes

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February 2, 2018

Zebra at Safari Wilderness in Lakeland. Photo: Seth Eisenberg

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Just an hour-and-a-half east of Tampa or an hour southwest of Orlando, the adjacent cities of Winter Haven and Lakeland entice travelers to several attractions, including Legoland and Safari Wilderness.

The area is home to 50 gorgeous freshwater lakes, many of which are connected by a series of scenic canals and waterways that weave their way throughout the region. Swimming, boating and fishing are among the most popular summer activities, but there’s more than just an abundance of idyllic shorelines and ponds to keep you busy.

Photo: Mike Russell

Bricks That Click

Theme parks are some of the big attractions here. Winter Haven is home to the largest Legoland park in the world, home to more than 50-million Lego bricks. Disney World, Busch Gardens, Sea World and Universal Studios are all less than an hour’s drive away.

If you’re traveling with kids, plan to spend at least a full day in Legoland. Covering more than 150-acres and boasting more than 50 themed rides—as well as a botanical garden and a full daily slate of live shows — this is one of the premier attractions in all of Central Florida. In Lakeland, Safari Wilderness features exotic animals in a natural settings. Trams convey customers across the sprawling property to see wild animals from across the globe, including lemurs, zebras and primates.

Musical Towers

To the southwest, Bok Tower Gardens is another major attraction and a nationally protected landmark. Designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the gardens are home to hundreds of species of flowers, shrubs and trees. All are woven together in a gorgeous landscape dotted with romantic nooks, contemplative rest areas, scenic overlooks and seasonal displays. At the Gardens, you’ll also find the famous Singing Tower, a 205-foot neo-Gothic carillon bell tower designed by architect Milton B. Medary in 1927. Today, “concerts” from the 60-bell tower still ring out daily at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

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