5 Places to Explore Nature in Lakeland, FL

Living in Lakeland, FL means cold weather is a rarity. The warm climate is one of the driving factors to living in Florida; making it the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors year round. Temperatures in Lakeland only fall as low as 50 - 60 degrees in winter so you can enjoy a breath of fresh air any month.

Getting outdoors in Lakeland, FL is easy, offering endless options to explore. Lakeland has no shortage of local parks to visit, gardens to amble through and sports to enjoy. Tampa, FL is also less than an hour drive away offering beachside fun and boating. Here are some of the must-visit spots to explore nature in Lakeland, FL.

1. Circle B Bar Reserve

Circle B started as a project to protect the floodplain of Lake Hancock and restore the local marsh system. Today, it is considered an excellent area for bird watching. Circle B Bar Reserve is home to an incredible ecosystem with a bird population including waterfowl, ospreys, bald eagles, and wading birds. You might even spot a few alligators from the shore or a pier.

Circle B also encourages visitors to bring their bicycles and running shoes to enjoy one of the numerous trails and roads. Alligator Alley Trail is a popular hiking route, which is a 2.5-mile round trip on an unpaved trail. Guests seeking a more laidback visit can take some time to fish in Lake Hancock. You can also bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the several tables placed along the road between the entrance and the Nature Discovery Center.

2. Hollis Garden

Located adjacent to Lake Mirror, Hollis Garden is a lovely botanical garden, situated on a 1.2-acre site. You can find over 10,000 flowers, ornamental shrubs, and native trees packed into this beautifully manicured garden. It is a lovely place to bird watch, read a book, or take a relaxing stroll throughout the grounds.

Hollis Garden is a great location for professional pictures or an outdoor wedding. One of the best things about Hollis Garden is that it’s totally free. Pack a lunch and have a picnic on the grounds. There are benches along the sidewalks so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sights.

3. Lake Hollingsworth

Lake Hollingsworth is absolutely stunning, making it a great place to take a walk or hike. There are bike trails available and plenty of places to enjoy a picnic. All of the sidewalks are well-maintained, so it is perfect for rollerblading or walking a few laps. It is a 3-mile paved path around the lake with one side offering a peaceful, unobstructed view of the lake.

Lake Hollingsworth presents an abundance of wildlife and plant life. The lake is a bird sanctuary where you can spot all kinds of aquatic birds, such as Ibises and Anhingas. It’s a great location to bring a sketchpad and pencils to draw the birds you spot.

4. Colt Creek State Park

Colt Creek State Park contains more than 5,000 acres of native Central Florida habitat. Here you can explore natural communities and wildlife. The park is home to different species of plants and animals, such as bald eagles, white-tailed deer, American alligators, butterflies, otters, gopher tortoise, and Sherman’s fox squirrel.

The park offers plenty for visitors to do, including 15 miles of multi-use trails. You can use the trails for hiking, walking, biking, and even horseback riding. Campers also can find 12 back-country sites and there are canoes and kayaks available to rent. Anglers also have places to cast their poles, either from the lake’s edge or the 75-foot accessible dock.

5. Lake Parker Park

Located on Granada Street, Lake Parker Park features 100-hundred acres of native Florida vegetation. It is a hot-spot for bird watchers, walkers, hikers, and bikers. People of all ages will love to spend time exploring nature and all Lake Parker has to offer. There are places for fishing, rollerblading, playing soccer or tennis, and having a picnic.

Lake Parker added a brand new playground that features an amazing climbing and sliding structure. Kids love the sphere that they can climb and spin on like a merry-go-round. It also hosts two different zip lines. Your kids will love to spend an afternoon playing at Lake Parker Park.

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