Polk County (Florida)
Polk County is one of the largest counties in the state by area and has a population of nearly 600, 000. The county is a mix of suburban Lakeland, Winter Haven/Auburndale, and Haines City/Davenport areas, several small towns, and large swaths of rural areas. The county was once the leading citrus producer in the state. The county saw a lot of development during the boom in the 2000s decade that included a lot of citrus groves gobbled up. The area around Mulberry has been mined for phosphate since the late 19th century and there are many large phosphate mines visible off State Roads 60 & 37.
Northeastern Polk County is closest to Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO), which is one of the nation's busiest airports. Hundreds of flights each day connect Orlando with destinations nationwide as well as Canada, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The airport also has one of the largest rental car fleets in the country, with several companies and a wide range of vehicles to chose from. To get to Polk County, simply take the Central Florida GreeneWay (SR 417) south ($2.50 in tolls) to Interstate 4 and head west. Davenport is about 25 mi, Winter Haven about 40 mi (via US 27), and Lakeland about 55 mi.
Lakeland and northwestern Polk County are closer to Tampa International Airport (IATA: TPA) which is served by all major airlines and has flights nationwide and to Canada, the Caribbean, and London. To get to Polk County, follow signs to Interstate 275 East (via short drive on SR 60/Veteran's Expressway), go past downtown and get on Interstate 4. Do not take State Road 60, as it runs through urban area for about 20-25 mi, including downtown Tampa. Lakeland is about 35 mi and Winter Haven (via Polk Parkway/SR570 [toll $1.50] & Winter Lake Rd/SR540) is about 55 mi.
The distance in travel time between the two airports is 30 minutes from just about every corner of the county (except Davenport and the "Four Corners" area near Disney World). TIA lies on the west side of downtown Tampa which may be an issue if you're traveling around rush hour, but Tampa traffic usually runs smoothly even at 6pm.
Interstate 4 ("I-4" in local parlance) is the largest highway through the county, passing mostly through rural areas, including the Green Swamp. I-4 is well-traveled, but has been widened and improved much in the last decade, so traffic slow downs are not common and a journey from Tampa or Orlando should be quick, easy, and stress-free.
US 27 is a busy north south highway, and offers an alternative to the Florida's Turnpike when traveling to South Florida. The highway runs south through Sebring and around Lake Okeechobee, passing through rural citrus and sugar cane fields. To the north, the highway runs through hilly terrain that was once islands and the first part of Florida to be exposed from the seabed. US 27 connects with the Florida's Turnpike halfway between Orlando and Interstate 75/Ocala.
State Road 60 runs east-west through the southern half of the county. SR 60 leads from the Tampa and Brandon areas in the west through Mulberry, Bartow, and Lake Wales after which it runs for 80 mi through rural areas before reaching Vero Beach on the East coast, also intersecting with the Florida's Turnpike halfway. About 20 mi east of Lake Wales, it is reduced to two lanes with occasional passing lanes and can be a little hectic between tailgaters and slow drivers (speed limit is 60, but average is a bit higher).
Lakeland and Winter Haven are both stops along the daily AMTRAK Silver Star & Silver Meteor lines.
Bok Tower Gardens
Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture
Tigers Spring Training
Lake Kissimmee State Park
Circle B Bar Reserve
Fantasy of Flight
Florida Air Museum/Sun n' Fun
Polk County is located between Tampa and Orlando and both metropolitan areas are within an hour's drive. Kissimmee and Walt Disney World are both located a short distance out of the county. Many visitors to Disney World stay in the Davenport area.
Polk County is bordered by Lake and Sumter Counties to the north; Pasco and Hillsborough Counties to the west; Highlands and Hardee counties to the south; as well as Osceola and Orange Counties to the east.