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Have you got a hankering for the laid-back Florida lifestyle, with a twist of community spirit and a splash of sunshine? Then Polk County is where the map is leading you next. Florida’s well-kept secret, Polk County, is the state’s heartland, boasting beautiful lakes, outdoor adventures, and some of the best oranges you’ll taste – hence its moniker, Florida’s Sweetest Spot. In this guide, we’re dishing out the top ten cities where you can bring a sip of that soulful, citrus-flavored life to your own.

If you’re a retiree dreaming of sunny days, a family looking for a close-knit community, or a single soul seeking a fresh start, Polk County has a city for you. In this comprehensive list, you’ll find detailed snapshots of each, along with insider tips on what they have to offer.

Come along as we explore the unique charm of each city, from historical landmarks to bustling downtown life, and everything in between!

Best Cities In and Near Polk County, Florida

1. Lakeland – The Lake City

A Lakeland Legend

Snuggled between Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland’s more than just a pit stop off Interstate 4. Historic districts adorned with red bricks and charming bungalow homes tell tales of the past. But there’s plenty for the modern folk, too – vibrant nightlife, an artsy community, and George Jenkins dream-made-reality, Publix.

What to Do in Lakeland

Spend a day at Hollis Garden, where vibrant flora and peaceful fountains provide a calming oasis. The Publix Passport to Health Center, hailing from the superstore’s philanthropic branch, hosts community wellness events year-round. For a taste of Lakeland, head to the downtown farmers’ market – fresh produce and a novel sense of community are always in ample supply.

Ideal for…

Lakeland sings a tune for the young, the working professional, and the couple looking for an up-and-coming place to start a life. It’s a city on the rise with an expanding job market, making it a strategic choice for setting down roots.

2. Winter Haven – Year-Round Adventures

The Winter Haven Whirlwind

With more than 50 lakes, Winter Haven lives up to its name offering temperate weather even in the heart of winter. Nature lovers flock to this city to visit the stunning Bok Tower Gardens and to boat on the famous Chain of Lakes. But don’t be fooled by the name; adventure is always in season here.

What to Do in Winter Haven

Take the family to LEGOLAND® Florida, where bricks become reality with themed lands and rides for every age. For a more serene experience, the 50-acre Bok Tower Gardens boasts neo-Gothic architecture and serene sights and sounds within its bird sanctuary housing over 100 species of birds.

Ideal for…

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Winter Haven is ideal for families with young kids, as LEGOLAND® provides ample entertainment. It’s also a mecca for retirees who enjoy a mix of activities that celebrate the spirit of youth and nature.

3. Auburndale – The City of Oaks

Auburndale Avowal

Auburndale is named for the way oaks abound, creating a verdant canopy over its streets. This city’s small town charm is underscored by its commitment to the environment. Residents relish its peaceful nature and proximity to the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College.

What to Do in Auburndale

Enjoy beaches without the crowds at Lake Ariana, where a splash delivers refreshment without the hubbub. Local favorite, Brigham Academy, is a historic site that once served as the area’s first schoolhouse.

Ideal for…

Auburndale is ideal for nature lovers, history buffs, and young families looking for affordable living coupled with quality education.

4. Bartow – The Kingdom of Oaks

Bartow’s Legacy

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Bartow claims its seat as the county’s seat, with a rich and proud history serving as the backdrop to modern life. Oak trees line the streets, claiming their stake in the city’s narrative. The architecture in downtown showcases timeless elegance, most notably at the Historic Polk County Courthouse and the L.B. Brown House, an important site for African American history in Florida.

What to Do in Bartow

Step into the past at the Polk County History Center, where interactive exhibits make history an unforgettable experience. Outdoor enthusiasts find their sanctuary in the city’s nature preserves and parks, such as Mosaic Park, perfect for picnics and bird watching.

Ideal for…

Bartow is a magnet for history lovers, those who appreciate architecture, and families looking for a highly rated public school system. The city’s strong community spirit also makes it an excellent choice for those seeking a deep sense of belonging.

5. Haines City – The Heart of Florida

Haines City Highlights

Haines City is hailed as the Heart of Florida due to its central location and wholesome city charm. What it’s best known for, though, is The Ridge. An ideal climate, fertile land, and a long history have made this area synonymous with citrus and one of the most productive agricultural regions in the United States.

What to Do in Haines City

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Pay homage to Haines City’s roots at Ridge Island Groves, where you can taste the sweetness of the local citrus. Potter around Lake Eva Park, which offers fun events and community celebrations year-round. For thrill seekers, a hot air balloon ride over the citrus fields is a must-do.

Ideal for…

Haines City is perfect for retirees who crave a picturesque and peaceful place to live. It’s also a haven for homebuyers seeking a rural-suburban mix with strong community ties.

6. Lake Wales – The City of 100 Lakes

The Lures of Lake Wales

Lake Wales boasts a variety of lakes to satisfy even the most passionate angler. Fishing isn’t the only appeal though; it’s home to the stunning Bok Tower Gardens, which gives visitors breathtaking views and the setting for lovely moonlit concerts. The city is also known for its strong sense of community, with various programs and initiatives that promote social cohesion.

What to Do in Lake Wales

Take a hike in the Lake Kissimmee State Park, where birdwatching and wildflower photo ops abound. Explore downtown’s charming shops or catch a live performance or film at the renovated 1927-era Polk Theatre.

Ideal for…

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Lake Wales speaks to those looking for a tranquil way of life surrounded by the beauty of nature. Its artsy community and rich history make it a gem for the culturally inclined.

7. Davenport – Where Magic Meets Nature

Davenport’s Dazzle

Bordering the magic of the Walt Disney World Resort, Davenport is a hot spot for tourists and residents alike. The Florida Polytechnic University’s stunning grounds and futuristic dome make it the city’s modern centerpiece. And being neighbors with the world’s most famous mouse ensures that you’re always a stone’s throw away from world-class entertainment.

What to Do in Davenport

Experience the thrill of snowsports at the Orlando Snow Park, or keep it classic with coastal delights at nearby beaches. For a serene escape, head to Lake Kissimmee State Park and enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities.

Ideal for…

Davenport is a tapestry of different lifestyles, perfect for professionals, families, or those who prefer a quieter existence but enjoy the close proximity to high-energy amenities like top-tier theme parks.

8. Frostproof – Where Life Is Always a Lazy Day

Frostproof’s Appeal

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This charming small town, affectionately called “The Friendly City,” revels in its simple pleasures. Nature enthusiasts find paradise in the untouched preserve at Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, while history buffs delight in the city’s enduring commitment to its past – the only proof of the frost that never arrived.

What to Do in Frostproof

Discover tranquility at Lake Clinch, a local favorite for fishing and watersports. Play a round of golf at one of the city’s premier courses. Frostproof Country Club is an ideal place to enjoy a leisurely game.

Ideal for…

The laid-back pace of life in Frostproof is perfect for those who seek a peaceful sanctuary. It’s a haven for nature lovers, and its golfing community is a dream come true for enthusiasts.

9. Fort Meade – A Fort for Freedom

Fort Meade Facts

This city plays home to a storied past, actually serving as the home base for the cattleman and pioneer Edward Phosphate and Fort Meade, which was established in the 19th century. Today, Fort Meade embodies its historical value, maintaining its small-town spirit and alluring natural beauty.

What to Do in Fort Meade

For a unique experience, visit the Gardner Historical Museum to see the city’s history come alive. Nature enthusiasts will find solace at the Peace River Heritage Reserve, a tranquil destination for hiking and wildlife spotting. Don’t miss the Fort Meade Historic Village, an open-air museum that takes you back to the city’s roots.

Ideal for…

Fort Meade is an ideal haven for history enthusiasts, those who value preservation, and anyone who loves to be surrounded by the peace of nature.

10. Mulberry – A Berry Good Choice

Mulberry’s Allure

Named after the mulberry trees that once graced the community, modern-day Mulberry is a reflection of its roots, offering a blend of nature, history, and modern conveniences. Residents revel in a peaceful atmosphere, close-knit community, and the city’s close proximity to the industrial and technological hub that is Lakeland.

What to Do in Mulberry

Explore Mulberry Phosphate Museum, which showcases the city’s link to the phosphate industry. The Imperial Polk County Forest offers outdoor goodness with trails and a chance to connect with the environment.

Ideal for…

Mulberry is perfect for those who want a taste of the old Florida lifestyle without being too far from modern amenities. It’s a solid choice for those who appreciate being close to nature and desire a strong sense of community.

Whether you’re drawn to the natural beauty of the sparkling lakes or the rich history etched into each city’s fabric, Polk County beckons with open arms and a wealth of opportunities. It’s not just a geographical destination; it’s a lifestyle waiting for you to claim it. It’s where neighbors aren’t just people who share your ZIP code but folks who share your zest for life. Visit, stay, or put down roots – Polk County’s calling, and you ought to pick up.

FAQs about Moving to Polk County, FL

What’s the weather like in Polk County, FL?

Polk County enjoys a subtropical climate, meaning you’ll experience hot, wet summers and mild, dry winters. Perfect for those who prefer sandals over snow boots!

Is Polk County, FL prone to natural disasters including sinkholes?

Yes, like much of Florida, Polk County can experience natural disasters such as hurricanes and, less commonly, sinkholes. It’s wise to be prepared and stay informed, but don’t let the possibility rain on your parade! Many residents live happy, safe lives here.

How’s the job market in Polk County, FL?

Polk County’s job market is growing, with opportunities particularly booming in healthcare, education, and logistics, thanks to its central location. It’s a great place for those looking to start or advance their careers.

What kind of recreational activities can I enjoy in Polk County?

From lakeside relaxation and golfing to exploring historic landmarks and enjoying local arts, Polk County offers a wide variety of recreational activities. Nature lovers, history buffs, and art aficionados alike will find their niche here.

Are there good schools in Polk County, FL?

Absolutely! Polk County is home to numerous highly rated public and private schools, offering quality education from pre-K through high school. Plus, higher education institutions like Florida Polytechnic University are right in your backyard.

What are the best neighborhoods for families?

Polk County boasts several family-friendly neighborhoods, including Lakeland Highlands, Auburndale, and Winter Haven, known for their great schools, parks, and community events.

How’s the traffic in Polk County?

Given its central location, some congestion during peak hours is expected, especially around major cities like Lakeland. However, compared to larger Floridian cities, traffic is relatively mild.

Is Polk County pet-friendly?

Yes, Polk County is quite pet-friendly, with numerous parks, trails, and services catering to your furry friends. Your pets will love it here as much as you do!

How can I get involved in the community in Polk County?

Polk County’s tight-knit communities offer countless opportunities to get involved, whether through local events, volunteer work, or joining one of the many community groups or clubs. It’s an easy place to feel at home and make a difference.

Moving to Polk County, FL offers a unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant communities, and opportunities for growth and enjoyment. Get ready to be welcomed with open arms and warm smiles!

Helpful Tip: Florida is known to be prone to sinkhole issues. Check the Polk County sinkhole map for more details

Conclusion: Is Polk, A Good Place to Live in?

In wrapping up, it’s crystal clear that Polk County, FL, is not just a good place to live—it’s a great one! With its unique blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and booming opportunity, this Floridian gem offers something for everyone. From the sun-kissed, subtropical climate that laughs in the face of winter, to the tight-knit communities where everyone knows your name (and probably your dog’s too), Polk County is where the heart of old Florida beats with a modern rhythm. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or just someone looking for a friendly place to call home,

Polk County rolls out the welcome mat with an irresistible charm. And hey, with a cost of living that keeps your wallet happy, and a plethora of recreational activities, schools, and job opportunities, this slice of paradise makes it pretty easy to put down roots and flourish.

So, if you’re looking for a place where the sunset views over sparkling lakes rival those of any Instagram influencer, where community spirit is as refreshing as a glass of iced tea on a hot day, and the prospect of adventure is always just around the corner, then yes, Polk County, FL, is calling your name. Don’t keep it waiting too long!

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