Central Florida Vacation Ideas for Free Fun Year Round

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A savvy Central Florida visitor knows there are many ways to enjoy the Sunshine State without spending a dime. From beautiful outdoor activities to fun and educational experiences, there are many excited and free Central Florida attractions for visitors to enjoy.

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Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-7655Central Florida Vacation Ideas For Free Fun Year RoundHaving fun at Barnett Family ParkA savvy Central Florida visitor knows there are many ways to enjoy the Sunshine State without spending a dime. From beautiful outdoor activities to fun and educational experiences, there are many exciting and free Central Florida attractions for visitors to enjoy.1Hollis GardenThis free public garden is the perfect place to wander and enjoy the day. Located along the shores of beautiful Lake Mirror in Lakeland, Florida, Hollis Garden has a distinctive neoclassical design. Explore the many wandering paths, leading to beautifully symmetric fountains and thriving plant life. Hollis Garden itself is free to visit and can be enjoyed year-round (although they are closed on Mondays); guests are encouraged to explore on their own, but guided tours can be scheduled for a small fee for a particularly large group interested in the Garden. Circle B Bar Reserve and Polk Nature Discovery CenterOnce a functioning cattle ranch, the 1,200 acre Circle B Bar Reserve has been restored to its original natural state as one of the most impressive bird habitats in Central Florida. Complete with numerous trails and unique treasures like a freshwater marsh and hardwood swamp, Circle B Bar Reserve offers something for everyone in your family. Bicycling, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and picnicking are all encouraged at this free admission reserve. The Polk Nature Discovery Center is located at the Circle B Bar Reserve. This recently constructed center helps visitors of all ages understand the delicate ecosystem of Central Florida with indoor and outdoor classrooms and numerous exhibits. The free Discovery Center has exhibits specifically designed to engage and excite young minds, making it a great choice for families. For the budget consciousfamilyFor the outdoor enthusiastCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-76552Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-7655Common Ground Inclusive PlaygroundThe Common Ground Inclusive Playground is a new type of playground that offers opportunities for every child, regardless of abilities or disabilities. This park is situated near picturesque Lake Hollingsworth, and offers many different playground facilities and amenities to enjoy with your child. For larger functions, gazebo and picnic facilities can be rented, but there is no charge for general admission. Be sure to look for the creative statues placed throughout the park, too!Florida's Natural Growers Grove HouseThe Florida's Natural Grower's Grove House is a celebration of Florida's state fruit, the orange. The Grove House offers historical retrospectives on the fruit, video tours and even delicious free samples of Florida's famous orange juice (and other citrus juices). The Grove House provides visitors with a lot of free fun, but there are also plenty of gifts to choose from to commemorate your trip. Open seasonally from October through Memorial Day, visitors can enjoy The Grove House from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.Davidson of DundeeDavidson of Dundee provides some of the sweetest citrus candies, jellies, and marmalades in the world, and their factory is located right here in Central Florida. Free tours of the factory are offered daily, giving Common Ground Inclusive Playground3visitors the chance to see Davidson employees making candy, marmalade, jelly, chocolate, and more the old fashioned, handcrafted way. Davidson's has been featured on the Food Network and many other national shows recognizing America's most unique culinary treasures.Webb's Candy ShopFamily owned Webb's Candy Shop has become nationally recognized for their unique and delicious candies. From their famous goat's milk fudge to their unique citrus candies, Webb's Candy Shop is a fascinating experience for children and adults alike. Take a free tour of the factory and see experts making fudge, citrus candy, peanut brittle, and other confectionary delights. Ridge Island GrovesFamily owned and operated Ridge Island Groves grows fresh citrus and ships to locations throughout the state and the nation. Visiting the groves can become a fun family event if you choose to pick your own oranges and fill a gift box. Keep it for yourself, or send it off to family if you're feeling generous. There's no better place to visit on a sunny day than Ridge Island Groves. Visiting is free, as are samples of the company's orange, tangerine and grapefruit juices. Ridge Island GrovesCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-76554Begin Your Adventure!Hollis Garden702 E Orange SrteetLakeland, FL 33801(863) 834-2280Learn MoreCircle B Bar Reserve And Polk Nature Discovery Center4399 Winter Lake Road Lakeland, Fl 33803Entrance south side of SR 540 (Winter Lake Road) between US 98 and Thornhill Road(863) 668-4673Learn MoreCommon Ground Inclusive Playground1000 E Edgewood Drive(863) 834-2233Learn MoreFlorida's Natural Growers Grove House20160 Hwy 27Lake Wales, FL 33853(863) 679-4110Learn MoreDavidson of Dundee28421 US Hwy 27 NDundee, FL (800) 654-0647Learn MoreWebb's Candy Shop38217 Highway 27Davenport, FL 33837800-289-9322Learn MoreRidge Island Groves6000 Polk City RoadHaines City, FL 33844 863-422-0333Learn MoreSpook HillAdjacent toSpook Hill Elementary321 Dr. J. A. Wiltshire Ave E.Lake Wales, FL 33853Learn MoreBarnett Family Park/Sunflower Preschool Playground730 E. Orange StreetLakeland, FL 33801863-834-2280Barnett Family Park/Sunflower Preschool PlaygroundA local favorite, this playground has something to offer every child. Preschoolers can enjoy a play area designed specifically for their growing bodies and minds, while older children will have fun climbing the numerous safe play structures located in a nearby separate area. Other attractions include a splash wet area and enough picnic space to host many families. Best of all, this neighborhood gathering spot and public park is completely free. Spook HillSpook Hill has gained worldwide notoriety as one of the most confounding potentially haunted locations in existence. Visitors come from around the world to park their cars at the bottom of Spook Hill and experience the mysterious force that seems to defy gravity and makes cars roll backwards, up-hill. Visit Spook Hill, park your car at the white line, put it in neutral, and see the results for yourself!Barnett Family ParkCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-76555Homeland Heritage ParkThe Homeland Heritage Park is dedicated to pioneer life during the earliest days of settlement in Florida. The structures in the park are original, and include a meticulously preserved farmhouse, church, and school. The park is free to visit and makes a fun and educational field trip for students and families alike. The L.B. Brown HouseThe L.B. Brown House is both a museum and an architectural masterpiece. Built by self-taught master carpenter Lawrence B. Brown, the nine-room, 1,700 square foot home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is a museum honoring the contributions of African Americans to Florida history. Lawrence B. Brown was a former slave who rose from humble roots to become an accomplished master carpenter and an upstanding citizen of Florida, and today his house continues his legacy of education and community service. Guided tours are by appointment only, but visitors are welcome to enjoy the exterior architecture and look inside. The L.B. Brown festival is free to the public and is held on the grounds every February. For a fun & educationalexperience Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-7655Begin Your Adventure!The L.B. Brown Home470 Second AveBartow, Florida 33830 (863) 534-0100Learn MoreThe Lake Wales Museum & Cultural Center (The Depot)325 S. Scenic Hwy.Lake Wales, FL 33853863-678-4209Learn MoreThe Mulberry Phosphate Museum 101 S.E. 1st StreetMulberry, FL 33860863-425-2823Learn MoreFrank Lloyd Wright Architecture at Florida Southern College111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr.Lakeland, FL 33881863-680-4444Learn MoreThe Polk County Historical Museum100 E. Main St.Bartow, FL 33830863-534-4386Learn MoreThe Polk County Genealogical Library100 E. Main St.Bartow, FL 33830863-534-4380Learn MoreThe Historic Dundee Depot Museum102 Main St.Dundee, FL 33838863-419-3145Learn MoreThe Lake Wales Arts Center1099 S.R. 60 E.Lake Wales, FL 33859 863-676-8426Learn MoreThe Polk Museum Of Art800 E. Palmetto St.Lakeland, FL 33801863-688-7743Learn MoreL.B. Brown House6Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-7655The Lake Wales Museum & Cultural Center (The Depot)Originally built as a station by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1928, this distinctive pink building has become one of the most recognizable cultural landmarks of Lake Wales. Although rail traffic eventually slowed, the Depot remained. In 1974, local organizations began the process of transforming the old building into a destination that would celebrate Lake Wales and serve the citizens. Today's Depot collects and showcases Lake Wales history, preserving the city's past and sharing it with today's visitors. Open year-round, the Depot often hosts special events and is always free to enjoy. The Mulberry Phosphate Museum The Mulberry Phosphate Museum is a fun and free attraction that will spark your kids' interest in history and science. The museum covers many topics, including scientific perspectives on phosphate, how and where it is used, and how it has led to the development of Central Florida's business. However, unlike most historic attractions, the Mulberry Phosphate Museum was designed with kids in mind. For an added sense of adventure, the museum is housed in a series of historic train boxcars. Kids love taking the journey from boxcar to boxcar to discover and learn more about this important mineral. Additionally, kids enjoy digging in the museum's exciting outdoor exhibit, a 44 yard Dragline bucket that was once used for excavating phosphate rock. The Lake Wales Museum & Cultural Center7Many hidden treasures can be uncovered here, including sharks teeth and other prehistoric animal remains. Museum visitors can also get up close and personal with exciting fossils and other exhibits inside. Best of all, admission to the Mulberry Phosphate Museum is completely free.Self-Guided Architecture ToursThe Florida Southern College Campus in Lakeland is the largest single site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright works (12 structures) in the world. A self-guided tour will lead you through the numerous archways and walkways that connect the buildings, allowing you ample time to enjoy Wright's work at its finest. All the architecture here has been meticulously restored to ensure authenticity and integrity to Wright's initial vision. A self-guided tour is free fun at its best for architecture buffs and novices alike. The Polk County Historical MuseumLocated inside the historic Old Polk County Courthouse, the Polk Country Historical Museum features the latest artifacts and historical information about Polk County. In addition to its ever-growing collection and unique showcases, the museum also offers special events, educational opportunities, and volunteer programs to help enrich the community. Admission to this community space is free to the public. Polk County Historical MuseumCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-76558The Polk County Genealogical LibraryThe Polk County Genealogical Library is located in historic Bartow, but genealogists and historians nationwide access its extensive online databases to help their work. Many of the books, magazines, microfilms, and other materials found in the Polk County Genealogical Library are irreplaceable and only available here. In addition to its extensive collections, the library offers classes and other services to help visitors get the information they need. The library is free to access. The Historic Dundee Depot MuseumOnce a thriving depot on a busy train line, the Historic Dundee Depot Museum celebrates the history of the railroad in Central Florida. Located on the original site of the first depot on the Haines City to Sebring line of the Atlantic Coast Line, this museum features original architecture, houses historical artifacts, and gives visitors the chance to explore an authentic 1968 caboose. The museum is completely free but does run somewhat limited hours. Plan your trip ahead of time to ensure you have the time to really enjoy it. Polk County Genealogical LibraryCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-76559Free Fun for Teachers Too!LEGOLAND Florida opens to the public on October 15, 2011, and Florida school teachers can register for a complimentary standard Annual Pass at www.legoland.com. The pass enables Florida teachers to explore the park and uncover why a field trip to LEGOLAND Florida would be a fun and exciting experience for students.The Lake Wales Arts CenterThe Lake Wales Arts Center brings together visual and performing arts, offering Central Florida the best of both. The Lake Wales Arts Council maintains the center, arranging classes, concerts, and exhibitions that rotate throughout the year. The center has extensive gallery space, and visitors are always welcome to enjoy the center's most recent display. The Lake Wales Arts Center offers many free and fun events throughout the year. Check the Lake Wales Arts Center calendar for the most recent information about collections, presentations and classes at the center. The Polk Museum Of ArtThe fine arts in Polk County live in the Polk Museum of Art. Widely recognized as one of the ten best art galleries in all of Florida, the Polk Museum of Art offers something to appeal to every artistic taste. Outdoor gardens showcase permanent sculptures, while the indoor exhibit halls feature a permanent installation of pre-Columbian artifacts. The rest of the building is dedicated to rotating exhibits, including traveling exhibits and local arts. A full schedule of events and educational opportunities make the Polk Museum of Art a destination for anyone who enjoys the fine arts. View the Polk Museum of Art calendar for a current list of exhibits on display. Although admission is not usually free, budget-savvy visitors can enjoy free admission between 10 a.m. and noon every Saturday. For the artsloverCopyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-7655Polk Museum of Art10Useful ResourcesThe City of Lakeland Hollis Garden PageHere you'll learn the basic information about Hollis Garden, but more importantly it includes photos of this beautiful landmark in its prime. Contact information is also available for visitors who might be interested in renting any of the facilities. Circle B Bar ReserveA comprehensive and informative webpage that is a must-read for anyone planning to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve. This website includes a map, a list of exact recreational opportunities available to visitors, and information about how to maintain a safe and fun atmosphere in the park. Davidson of Dundee HomepageThis website offers information on a variety of different Davidson of Dundee products, in addition to their factory tours. The website allows visitors to order gifts for themselves or others, and lists all the extensive offerings available from this company. Ridge Island Groves HomepageHere you'll learn more information about Ridge Island Groves. Highlights include many pictures of the groves, a guide to the varieties they grow, and a shop allowing visitors to order produce or arrange to give it as a gift to friends almost anywhere in the continental United States.The Mulberry Phosphate MuseumPacked with information about phosphate and about the museum, this webpage is a must-read for anyone who intends to visit. Directions are available, as is extensive information about what the museum has to offer and any events that are scheduled. Florida Southern Campus Tour HomepageOne of the most extensive repositories of information about the architecture and design of this campus. In addition, the page has a number of different photographs of the campus to help prepare for an unguided tour, as well as additional resources in a virtual visitor's center. Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-765511Getting The Most Out Of Your Central Florida VacationAll of these activities are just a sampling of the many free and fun experiences that can be found in beautiful Central Florida. There are constantly new events being scheduled and new free activities becoming available every day. Although many attractions are open year round, when planning a Central Florida vacation, it is recommended to check dates of operation for all of the 'must see' activities on your list. Most nature parks are free to the public, and there are many other landmarks that may merit exploration. When it comes to budget friendly things to do, Central Florida offers a strong selection. Webb's Candy ShopThis website highlights the confections that are made daily at Webb's. It is a good starting point for a future visit to the factory, or to simply enjoy the wide variety of sweets that the company produces. Online ordering is available. Polk County Genealogical LibraryThis online gateway to the impressive selection of the Polk County Genealogical Library also serves as a good starting point for anyone interested in visiting. Its powerful search tools and other online resources make it invaluable for researchers and visitors alike. About the DepotA webpage devoted to this historical landmark. This page explains a lot about the history of the building itself, including its uses in the present day. There are also numerous other links in the sidebar to fun events held near or at the Depot.The Polk Museum of Art This webpage features information about all current exhibits, as well as calendars indicating future exhibits and events. An online museum store, visitor information, and membership section make this a very useful website for anyone interested in visiting the Museum.Copyright 2011 Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau 2701 Lake Myrtle Park Road, Auburndale FL 33823 1-800-828-765512