POLK COUNTY

County Offices
330 West Church Street
Bartow 863-534-6000
https://www.polk-county.net/

Chamber of Commerce
35 Lake Morton Drive
Lakeland 863-688-8551
https://www.lakelandchamber.com/

Strategically located in the heart of Central Florida, Polk County is well-served by the Interstate 4 corridor just 25 miles east of Tampa and 35 miles southwest of Orlando. Because of this centralized position in the state, Polk County is surrounded by a 100-mile radius that supports nearly eight million people—one of the densest areas in the entire Southeast. This fertile region claims the second-largest area devoted to farmland in Florida and continually ranks among the state’s most productive agricultural counties. Tourism is another important industry, with throngs of visitors drawn to world-class attractions like the historic Bok Tower Gardens and Cypress Gardens, Florida’s original theme park. Polk County has also emerged as a preferred venue for competitive sports, including spring training headquarters for major baseball teams.

Services
More than 100 individual campuses are encompassed with the Polk County Public School District, which serves more than 77,000 students. The strong core curriculum is enhanced by innovative initiatives like the International Baccalaureate Program, designed to meet the intellectual and academic needs of highly motivated high school students while it promotes international understanding. For first-rate career and vocational training in more than 50 exciting programs, the school district offers two technical centers. Those who are interested in a private education will find opportunities on every level, from preschool through college. The options for higher education close to home are abundant, including public universities and elite private colleges in Polk County and nearby metropolitan centers like Orlando and Tampa. Lakeland is the hub of higher education within the county, home to an extension campus for the University of South Florida, the site of USF’s most aggressive expansion of Information Technology degree programs. USF is distinguished as one of only three Florida public universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation in the top tier of research universities. Polk Community College in Winter Haven provides everything from college-track associate degrees to certifications, continuing education, and corporate training programs. Florida Metropolitan University prepares students with hands-on learning experiences for a number of specialized careers, while Florida Southern College offers a selective private institution where programs are designed for real-world application. Webber International University in Babson Park is a small private college that has earned a big reputation in business education. The Princeton Review ranked Webber as a “Best in the Southeast.” Warner Southern College and Southeastern College both provide a Christian education in a private college setting.

State-of-the-art healthcare services and facilities in and near Polk County include the Bartow Regional Medical Center in Bartow, the Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Davenport, Lake Wales Medical Center in Lake Wales, and the Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland. As an acute-care hospital, Bartow Regional Medical Center provides a sophisticated level of care to residents of Bartow, Ft. Meade, Mulberry, South Lakeland, rural south Polk County, and northern Hardee County. The Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center is a 143-bed hospital that has undergone six major expansions since its founding in 1997. Lake Wales Medical Center offers a 154-bed acute care hospital staffed by more than 50 physicians who deliver a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services. Lakeland Regional Medical Center provides a wide array of routine and highly advanced services, including a highly respected Heart Center. Winter Haven Hospital is convenient for east Polk County residents and those who have settled near the highway 27/Ridge Corridor. With 527 licensed hospital beds, the hospital is the largest private employer in Polk County. Among the many specialties are an open heart surgery center, a dedicated intensive care unit, a progressive care unit, and several centers of excellence.

Lifestyle
Beautiful Polk County draws newcomers to an unrivaled quality of life with a low cost of living. Picturesque farmland intermingles with vast acres of spectacular recreational preserves and welcoming cities and towns. The county alone manages nearly 2,500 acres of parkland, while breathtaking Lake Kissimmee State Park sprawls over more than 48,000 acres. The county is also home to 100,000 acres of pastoral lands that are open to the public for resource-based recreation such as fishing, boating, hunting, nature study, bird watching, and passive recreation. Nearly 555 freshwater lakes and numerous rivers make this area a haven for boaters and anglers. In fact, Polk County has long been dubbed the “Water Ski Capital of the World.” Golfers will find scores of public and private courses where they can perfect their backswing.

Polk County and Central Florida provide a world of attractions that are designed to entertain and educate visitors of all ages. Cypress Gardens Adventure Park stands in a class of its own as Florida’s first themed park. The historic Bok Sanctuary and Tower Gardens, the Fantasy of Flight museum, the Polk Museum of Art, and the Lake Wales Arts Center are just a few of the outstanding venues. Area colleges expand the cultural offerings with theatrical productions, seasonal performance series, and exciting guest events. Those who are interested in Frank Lloyd Wright architecture will want to explore the beautiful campus of Florida Southern College. Shopping is another popular pastime in modern malls or trendy boutiques. The area’s downtown historic districts are a haven of delight for collectors of timeless treasures and fine antiques, while bargain hunters flock to outlet centers and amazing flea markets. Whether your dream is a Mediterranean Revival mansion, a country manor, a lakefront estate, a handsome suburban home or a cozy bungalow in the heart of a long-established neighborhood, Polk County has the diversity of housing and settings to appeal to every lifestyle choice.


COMMUNITY PROFILES

Auburndale

Municipal Offices
863-965-5530
http://auburndalefl.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-967-3400
https://www.myauburndalechamber.com/

Those who appreciate the close-knit atmosphere of a smaller town will find a welcoming community in Auburndale. This steadily growing town excels in a cooperative attitude that drives business and industry as well as education, sports, and recreation. Local recreational amenities are well-managed and abundant, including summer tennis programs for all ages, a state-of-the-art softball complex, sports courts and fields, senior programs, community and neighborhood parks, a community museum, a municipal beach, and a boat ramp. The vital element in this impressive degree of success is the spirit of community, which is one of Auburndale’s main attractions. The housing options range from well-kept older homes nestled in tree-lined neighborhoods to newer construction in a variety of architectural styles, sizes, and price ranges. Expanded urban amenities are close to home, including stellar entertainment and amusement centers.

Bartow


Municipal Offices
863-534-0100
https://www.cityofbartow.net/

Chamber of Commerce
863-533-7125
https://bartowchamber.com/

The county seat of Bartow is a charming community that has managed to preserve much of its rich history and heritage. Located at the intersection of US Highways 60 and 98, Bartow is only 10 miles south of Lakeland and midway between Tampa and Orlando. Easy access to world-class theme parks and both of Florida’s coastlines are important advantages for those who have been drawn to Barstow’s small-town atmosphere. Barstow hosts the county government offices but also regional headquarters for state agencies including the Florida Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture. Historic downtown Barstow features the Polk County Historical Museum and the Historical & Genealogy Library as well as the celebrated architecture of vintage homes. Shopping centers and well-developed recreational amenities add to the family-friendly environment. Barstow is also home to large herds of range beef and dairy cattle, adding a picturesque agricultural element to the landscape.


Davenport


City Hall
863-419-3300
https://www.mydavenport.org/

Chamber of Commerce
863-293-2138
https://www.winterhavenchamber.com/

The quiet community of Davenport is actually located in Polk County, but the residential development that extends in all directions from its borders reaches into Lake, Oceola, and Orange counties. Newcomers to this area will discover a quiet, serene residential environment off the beaten path but accessible to many of the region’s finest amenities. Davenport remains in close proximity to the bright lights of Orlando as well as many other growing cities. Situated along U.S. Highway 17 and just east of U.S. Highway 27, the City of Davenport itself has remained relatively unchanged by the mecca of international tourism just to the north. The rolling hills of the Lake Wales Ridge, stretching south for about 100 miles from this point in northeast Polk County, provide an idyllic setting for the two-square-mile town of Davenport. Although less than 2,500 residents actually live in Davenport, the surrounding area is welcoming sprawling subdivisions and new-home construction.


Dundee, Lake Hamilton


Municipal Offices
Dundee
863-419-3100
http://townofdundee.com
Lake Hamilton
863-439-1910
https://www.townoflakehamilton.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-439-3261
https://www.winterhavenchamber.com/

Ideally situated along the bustling US Highway 27 corridor, the town of Dundee offers the close-knit spirit of a small, serene town in a 12-square-mile area. The picturesque image of the rolling hills of Lake Wales Ridge frames a pleasing blend of well-kept older neighborhoods and wonderful new subdivisions. From its early roots as part of the wealth of Florida’s citrus industry, the town has evolved into a growing bedroom community for commuters to larger neighboring cities. This friendly community also plays host to throngs of seasonal visitors who appreciate the close proximity to a world of internationally famous amusement and entertainment centers. Quiet lakeside parks combine with the new regional park and recreation complex that is being developed in cooperation with Polk County to provide abundant opportunities for recreation and outdoor enjoyment just beyond the front door. The growing community of Lake Hamilton provides a scenic water-oriented setting less than two miles from Dundee and only five miles from Haines City. The trip to Florida’s gulf coast or the Atlantic shoreline is only a 90-minute drive.

Fort Meade


Municipal Offices
863-285-1100
https://www.cityoffortmeade.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-285-8253
www.fortmeade.com

Distinguished as the oldest city in Polk County, Fort Meade has roots that date back to 1849 when the area served as an old military road from Fort Brooks (which is today’s Tampa) to Fort Pierce during the Indian wars. Newcomers to Fort Meade will discover a friendly community that excels in historic treasures and preserved architecture, including the 1889 Christ Church with Gothic Revival elements that was designed by architect J.H. Weddell. Next door to the church in the charming historic district is the famous Reid House that has been used as a set by the motion picture industry. Fort Meade showcases more than 300 homes that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although Civil War destruction left only a handful from the late 1800s. The combination of a warm community spirit with a rich legacy of historic preservation creates a unique and appealing hometown atmosphere.

Frostproof


Municipal Offices
863-635-7854
https://www.cityoffrostproof.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-635-9112
www.frostproofchamberofcommerce.com

The tiny town of Frostproof is nestled between Clinch Lake and Lake Reedy in the southeastern corner of Polk County. Frostproof is cradled in an area known simply as “the ridge,” which is a series of low, gently rolling hills that are dotted by lakes and creeks. The businesses that thrive in this community are often as unique as the terrain, including a company that offers world-class restoration of vintage automobiles and displays many of them at its refurbished dealership in the historic downtown district. The eastern side of Frostproof is sheltered by 26,000 acres of the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. To the north and east of the city is The Nature Conservancy’s Tiger Creek Preserve, another 4,805 acres of protected lands. US Highway 17 is the main corridor that runs through the town and is designated as a Scenic Highway. To the north is Babson Park, home to Webber International University. Lake Wales lies to the south in this area graced by a backdrop of picturesque citrus groves and pasture land.

Haines City


Municipal Offices
863-421-3600
http://hainescity.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-422-3751
www.hainescity.com

Haines is another city in Polk County that showcases a charming historic Main Street, where many of the structures were built in the early 1900s. Today’s Haines City Citrus Growers Association was founded in 1909 and has remained as one of Florida’s largest co-ops. The influential Ralph Polk, a leading entrepreneur in the citrus industry in the ’20s and ’30s, built the Polk Hotel that now serves as the home of Landmark Baptist College in downtown Haines City. One vintage structure that was once a thriving business is currently home to the Haines City Community Theater and the Northeast Polk County Historical Society. Just 15 miles of Haines City, the development of Disney World in the early ’70s changed the face of the entire area. In the past 40 years, the city has welcomed a good balance of manufacturing, service, and retail sectors for a convenient lifestyle. At the same time, events like the popular farmer’s market add a country flavor and serve as reminders of the area’s strong agricultural legacy.

Lake Alfred


Municipal Offices
863-291-5747
http://mylakealfred.com

Chamber of Commerce
863-875-7800
https://www.lakealfredchamber.com/

Nestled in the heart of the Sunshine State, the Lake Alfred community provides a relaxed and picturesque hometown environment and an enviable quality of life. This growing community enjoys a prime location in Central Florida’s scenic lakes and citrus grove region, offering abundant open land for continued development. The plans for quality expansion will balance new business and industry with serene residential communities. Just recently, new residential development was approved north of Lake Alfred toward Interstate 4, which will allow environmentally friendly new subdivisions to cover some of the “high and dry” pasture land of Florida’s Green Swamp Region. The family-oriented Lake Alfred community excels in recreational facilities and amenities, including picnic areas, boating, swimming, tennis, sports courts and fields, and a public golf course. Colorful events and celebrations, active organizations, and close proximity to Tampa and Orlando add to the appeal of a truly wonderful community.


Lake Wales


Municipal Offices
863-678-4180
https://www.lakewalesfl.gov/

Chamber of Commerce
863-676-3445
https://www.lakewaleschamber.com/

Voted “the friendliest small town in Florida,” Lake Wales drew accolades from Best of the Best, one of Florida’s monthly magazines. This small but appealing city is less than two square miles in area, perched along a picturesque ridge of nearly 300 feet. This scenic setting offers an idyllic climate and serene surroundings of rolling hills, lush citrus groves, and sparkling lakes that provide world-class recreational activities. Highlights in Lake Wales include a world-famous bell tower graced by lush gardens, wonderful multi-purpose trails, and a charming downtown district. The cultural community in Lake Wales is exceptionally vital and active, encouraging and promoting such attractions as the Art Show by the Lake, the International Carillon Festival, the February Mardi Gras, and Lake Wales Little Theatre productions. The region’s rich soil and climate have made agriculture an important contributor to the local and regional economy, although the city is also home to thriving business and industries and a regional mall.

Lakeland


Municipal Offices
863-834-6210
https://www.lakelandgov.net/

Chamber of Commerce
863-688-8551
https://www.lakelandchamber.com/

The leading city of Lakeland, the largest municipality in Polk County, offers an idyllic combination of small-town spirit and hospitality with all of the excitement and amenities of an urbanized environment. This bustling micro-metropolitan area is nearing a quarter of a million residents, yet remains accessible and remarkably friendly. Less than hour from Orlando and Tampa, Lakeland draws newcomers to a prime location midway between Florida’s most progressive metropolitan regions. Residents enjoy a quiet suburban lifestyle and a slower pace of life just minutes away from world-class recreational and entertainment attractions that include Disney World, Busch Gardens, Sea World, and spectacular beaches. Cypress Gardens, Fantasy of Flight, the Polk Museum of Art, and the historic Bok Sanctuary are all in Polk County. Excellent public and private schools, major healthcare services, great shopping, fine dining, Lakeland Center performing arts, galleries, intriguing museums, lush parks, and abundant recreational facilities are just a few of the highlights that make Lakeland such a popular choice.

Mulberry


Municipal Offices
863-425-1125
https://www.cityofmulberryfl.org/

Chamber of Commerce
863-425-4414
https://www.mulberrychamber.org/

Strategically situated at the crossroads of Tampa’s eastward metropolitan sprawl and the rapidly growth of Lakeland southward, the welcoming town of Mulberry offers a friendly and warm community. Tampa is only a 30-mile drive, home to one of the nation’s finest airports, major league football, elegant performance venues, two universities, and the largest museum of science and industry south of Chicago and west of Washington DC. Nearby Lakeland adds the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture at Florida Southern College, colleges and universities, and major baseball league excitement. Beyond its reputation as a wonderful, family-oriented town with an intimate spirit, Mulberry is the official phosphate capital of the world. Polk County has long been known for phosphate mining and processing, Florida’s third-largest industry. Mulberry’s strong economy balances diverse industries including corporate headquarters and major distribution centers.

Polk City

Municipal Offices
863-984-8423
https://www.mypolkcity.org/

Chamber of Commerce
863-688-8551
https://www.lakelandchamber.com/

Justly proud of its handsome new City Center complex, Polk City draws newcomers to a progressive community that is dedicated to quality growth and development. In fact, “Building Today for a Better Tomorrow” is Polk City’s declared motto. Originally founded by Isaac Van Horn as a hub for his vision of lucrative oil mining and production, the community languished with the Great Depression and the lack of any real oil deposits in the area. By 1960, the population had diminished to about 200. The establishment of Polk City as a town left the municipality free of all debt, which began the process of steady recovery. The designation of Polk City as a city in 2005 reflects four decades of resurgence as a vital community. Today, the city is home to more than 2,000 residents with nearly 11,000 in its 33868 zip code. Those who appreciate the intimacy of a community that is just beginning to catch its stride will find a welcoming home in Polk City.

Winter Haven


Municipal Offices
863-291-5600
https://www.mywinterhaven.com/

Chamber of Commerce
863-293-2138
https://www.winterhavenchamber.com/

Beautiful and filled with premier attractions, Winter Haven offers a comfortable and unique suburban environment that is ideal for growing families, young professionals, and retirees. Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, distinguished as Florida’s first theme park, has managed to retain its international appeal through the decades. With tourism playing a strong role in the diverse and vital economy, the city is brimming over with recreational, social, and special events that ensure an exciting lifestyle within the context of a friendly, small-town atmosphere. Centrally located between Orlando and Tampa, Winter Haven draws newcomers to a year-round recreational climate and nearly 50 sparkling lakes that are connected by a system of canals. Other highlights include lovely parks that are graced by outdoor art, celebrated opportunities for fine dining, and a new 32,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Library.

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