Lakeland is often bypassed as tourists race by on I-4 to Orlando and Tampa. Dotted with 38 lakes, the aptly named city is only a 25-minute drive from the Walt Disney World Resort complex and 35 minutes from downtown Tampa.
The many picturesque lakes serve as natural buffers from development, giving Lakeland the laid-back feel of a much smaller city. It's home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the world at Florida Southern College.
Lakeland is an attractive destination for golfers who also love baseball. Every March for decades, the city has served as the spring training home for the Detroit Tigers. Attending an afternoon baseball game following a morning round of golf is a great way to enjoy Lakeland on a sunny spring day.
For golf, Lakeland has 18 courses with designer tags like Ron Garl, Steve Smyers and Jerry Pate. The course architects utilized innovative earth-moving techniques to create some spectacular mounding on several layouts.
Sebring, 87 miles south of Orlando just off U.S. Route 27, has no Interstate access, but it attracts visitors with its Old Florida downtown historic district, golf courses and Sebring International Raceway, home to the 12 Hours of Sebring, an internationally acclaimed endurance race.
Founded in 1912, Sebring evokes a small town Americana ambiance with its quaint and walkable downtown area that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Local restaurants, boutique shops and a step-back-in-time park in the middle of downtown make it a great place to unwind after a round of golf.
Golf courses in Sebring feature gently rolling hills with fairways framed by palm trees and moss-covered oaks. The golf menu offers 12 golf courses designed by architects including Dick Wilson, Ron Garl and Mike Tellschow.
Golfers from near and far are seeking to play the two 18-hole layouts at the stunning Streamsong Resort complex near Fort Meade, Fla. that were fashioned out of wildly undulating sandy terrain once used for phosphate mining. In the mad dash to Streamsong Resort, however, golfers shouldn't overlook the many other superb golf courses in Polk County. Several highly regarded course architects such as Greg Norman, Ron Garl, Steve Smyers and Mike Dasher have designed courses here.
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