You might have a vague impression of Lakeland, just over an hour southwest of Orlando, as some backward, back-woods, Steel Magnolias-esque citrus town – and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. But beyond the rows of pomelos, honeybells, kumquats and tangelos, you’ll find mind-blowing architecture old and new, third-wave coffee and a budding new stop on the food-lover’s pilgrimage trail.
Florida Southern College
111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, 863-680-4111, flsouthern.edu
You might not know it, but the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the state is here. In 2012, Florida Southern College was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service. Take a walking tour of the grounds and visit the university's collection of photographs and furniture designed by the illustrious architect.
Florida Polytechnic University
4700 Research Way, Lakeland, 863-583-9050, floridapolytechnic.org
Ready for more amazing architecture? While Florida Southern was built by a master of the early 20th century, Florida Poly showcases the dramatic, futuristic work of Santiago Calatrava, an architect of the late 20th who will no doubt also make his mark on the 21st.
1037 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, concordcoffeeco.com
Craft coffee has come to this part of Central Florida, too: If you're obsessed with Foxtail Coffee in Winter Park or Lineage at East End Market, you'll fall for Concord Coffee's minimalist milieu, where they serve espresso, pour-overs and siphon brews. They're open Monday through Saturday, so plan accordingly.
The Poor Porker
801 E. Main St., Lakeland, 863-937-6915, thepoorporker.com
An indoor-outdoor space where getting down with your bad self is highly encouraged. The Porker serves beignets and coffee alongside a tipi (get in! hang out!) and other mid-century furnishings for sale. Food trucks make regular appearances, and you'll certainly want to take home some craft brew from the Corner Store, or home accessories and locally made clothing from BearCat and Big 6 Trading Post.
Lavender N' Lace Tea Room
430 N. Lake Shore Way, Lake Alfred, 863-956-3998, lavendernlacetearoom.com
Less hipster, more Driving Miss Daisy. There are 19 different teas on the menu, alongside cafe classics like chicken salad croissants and a quiche of the day. With tablecloths in tiny floral prints and a room full of collectible plates, you'll feel like you're having lunch at MeeMaw's house.
1212 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, 863-688-1961, nineteen61.com
Chef Marcos Fernandez's upscaled Latin cuisine (Spanish charcuterie, a "poutine" of braised short rib, seco gravy and goat cheese over papas fritas, scallops and linguiça over boniato mash) proves he's serious about starting a food revolution in Lakeland.
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