Lakeland, FL – who knew!

Wow! Just got back from spending a day in Lakeland and what a great little city. I found an old postcard on the internet and posted it below. It looks a bit different today. 🙂

I imagine that some residents in town wouldn’t agree it’s progress, but it has become a bedroom community for the Tampa Bay area and dare I say Walt Disney World? I know several couples from WDW that live here. It’s quite a drive (45-60 minutes) but the housing prices are significantly lower – at least they were.

As with a number of my posts, I dug a little deeper to learn about this area and found these factoids.

~Incorporated in 1885 and has an elevation of 194′. Pretty high for Central Florida.

~No surprise………named for the many lakes near the town’s site.

~Nickname is the Swan City. Huh?

I couldn’t leave that factoid alone. My research discovered the first swans appeared in 1923. However, by 1954 they had all disappeared due to alligators and nearby pets. A resident at the time wrote to Queen Elizabeth and the Royal family allowed capture of two Royal swans for the city. The swans currently on the lake are those descendants. Pretty cool!

Lakeland also has another cool fact. Everyone in Florida is aware of the Publix grocery store chain and most (maybe or maybe not) are aware that Lakeland is their headquarters. It is one of the largest regional grocery chains in the US with 1000+ locations. This private corporation is the largest employee-owned company in the US. That’s pretty cool too!

But why were we here?????????

Food Halls are a ‘big’ and growing thing, so much so that Lakeland has their own which opened several months ago. It was only a matter of time before it became one of our weekend jaunts.

After ensuring the hours of operation fit our needs, we headed west to Lakeland. Their website describes it as a ‘modern food hall and craft brewery in downtown Lakeland’. There are seven food vendors, a craft cocktail bar, a flower & gift shop and oh yeah, a brewery. What their website didn’t really say was that they brewery was not yet open – supply chain issues, go figure. They hope to get it open before the end of this year. Their building has a bit of cool history…… is the former home of Lakeland Brewing Company – never heard of it.

With seven options we could split our culinary decisions. I chose Mexican – Gallito Taqueria.

Queso dip and the ‘puffy’ tacos were my selections of choice. They had serve-your-own Coca cola fountain drink machines – love them. Can mix and pour a variety of flavors to suit your personal choices.

Eric and Adrienne selected SaBU Ramen.

Their individual selections were fairly similar.

Naturally had to fill in the cracks with some ice cream – which was another one of their vendors.

They make small batch, artisan ice cream in sunny Florida. Cappacino & coco nib ice cream was my choice this day. Yum!

Overall, it was a pretty cool place and will be a repeat visit in the future.

Before leaving this fair city, Eric found a nearby brewery for a quick local tasting – Dissent Craft Brewing Company,

Locating their brewery led us to another near-by thriving downtown district. Not sure if it has a ‘named district’ but it surrounded a city park – highly decorated for the holidays – with a ton of restaurants that got high marks. We will be back to test (and taste) that statement.

It was a nice, relatively short drive from home with lots of future possibiites.