Although Orlando is a city that is bustling with local shops, restaurants and attractions (besides the parks), sometimes you just have to expand your horizons to discover what’s outside Orlando. Two Saturdays ago, I got my tripod (which you can see here), my photoshoot outfits and off I drove an hour into the charming and quaint city of Lakeland, Florida.
Named after its many lakes, “Swan City” is the middle point between Orlando and Tampa. Filled with coffee shops, restaurants, antique stores and much more, at first I didn’t think much of Lakeland, but then came The Poor Porker: a true hidden gem in the middle of this undiscovered city that became popular on my social media and that’s when I first noticed how charming this city actually is. Mind you, I’m a sucker for small quaint towns, so this was right up my alley to explore. Yet the question still remains:
What’s worth exploring an hour drive away from Orlando?
Since my first visit a few years back, Lakeland has expanded with some dope places that are perfect for a Saturday drive and most importantly, support local and everything this city has to offer.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Location: 113 Florida Ave S
This farmer’s market kiosk turned brick and mortar shop is ONLY open Saturdays (8 am-1pm) and Wednesdays evenings (5-10 pm) for an exclusive dinner menu. What does this mean? Open one day a week = LONG lines (the type that goes around the building type of line). Since I got here almost at noon, there were only 3-4 items from their menu available (yeah, it’s THAT good) so the moral of the story? Make it your first stop and try their unique flavors.
I had the everything croissant, the hazelnut cruffin and of course horchata cold brew (which by the way, why have I waited so long to drink horchata!!! No sweetener needed, it was perfect)
So, what’s the verdict: is it worth the line? Well…HECK YEAH. The cruffin/croissant were so crunchy and well-flavored, I truly couldn’t get enough of it so I could only imagine how amazing everything else is! I mean, people were coming out of the places with BAGS full of baked goods and they’re mostly sold out before they close soooo…that has to tell you something, right?! Definitely a 10/10.
Other great places to get some good baked goods/desserts:
Although this time I didn’t stop at a coffee shop for my caffeine fix, here are some of the most popular coffee shops worth stopping by:
One of my favorite things about Lakeland is its growing local business and support! When you visit the downtown area, you’ll visit different stores that embrace local handmade goods and there’s nothing better than supporting an artist that pour their love into their craftsmanship.
Jenna is just a ray of sunshine, I have to put it out there ☀️ The artist and newly brick and mortar shop owner just opened her store in the heart of downtown Lakeland and it’s exactly how her feed and products show: joyful, colorful, bright & happy.
I’ve been following her on Instagram since her beginning and website-selling days and I finally got to meet her in person. A handmade goods store carrying a little bit of everything from cards (there’s actually an envelope bar where you can fill the cards with confetti, enough said!), t-shirts and gift wraps, the store is perfectly curated to evoke joy with any item bought.
The coolest part is the fact that not only did she open her store, but showcases other small business owners in her shop, promoting #shopsmall and exposing artists you may or may not know. Only way to find out? Driving to her store!
Some of my favorite spots to shop besides Twenty Seven are:
If you’re looking to explore murals, Lakeland brings so much color and hidden gems around town; this was actually one of the main reasons I explored Lakeland in the first place. If I were you, pack your 5-6 outfit changes, bring your photographer/tripod/friend and have fun exploring the bold and colorful murals around Swan City.
Artist: Jenna from Twenty Seven
Haus 820 *behind the building*
*It’s a mural lovers GEM. It carries different walls that are purely Instagram-worthy plus the food is AH-mazing, what more can I girl ask for?!
Inside: American Dream Neon Sign + Baked in the USA wall
Back of Building: Orange & Yellow Wall + Wings Wall + Sun and flowers garage door
Inside Twenty Seven shop
Revival Bar (back of building)
Woman and flowers Wall
And there you have it! A weekend well spent exploring the charming city of Lakeland. I hope you’ll be as surprised and motivated to support all the local shops popping up in Swan City, I’ll see you for the next guide!