121 Florida Ave S, Lakeland
The dazzling lights of the iconic Polk Theatre sign are a beacon to Florida Avenue passersby. This grand movie palace was built in 1928 and is appreciated perhaps as widely for its stunning design as for the art and entertainment it provides. An excerpt from their website details this oft called “atmospheric” theatre perfectly, “All of this splendor sat under the watchful eye of a starry ceiling. Painted a deep, royal blue, it fascinated patrons with its twinkling stars and sunrise/sunset effect.” Today Polk Theatre is “Where historic is cutting edge,” showing classic movies spanning the eras of cinema, Virtual Cinema, and is available to rent.
2nd:Lakeland Community Theatre
3rd: Branscomb Auditorium
210 E Main St, Lakeland
Munn Park is in the center of downtown Lakeland and has become the place to meet up. Named after the founder of Lakeland, Abraham Munn, this small but mighty park plays an important part in any Lakelander’s life. Art festivals, First Fridays, and even just meeting a friend for lunch make Munn Park an ideal place to gather.
2nd: Common Ground Playground
3rd: Circle B Bar Reserve
Best Movie Theater
Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre
4100 New Tampa Hwy, Lakeland
The Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre opened on April 14, 1948, and is still going strong. This nostalgic theatre shows first-run and classic movies on two screens with a double feature 7 days a week. Arrive early, with traditional movie theaters closed, Polk County’s last drive-in theater has become very popular! Purchase your movie snacks at the concession stand, proceeds help to keep the theater up and running.
2nd: Cinemark Lakeland Square Mall and XD
3rd: Cobb Lakeside 18 & IMAX
Best Live Music Venue
1023 Florida Ave S, Lakeland
Union Hall’s original 1920’s exposed terracotta brick walls, 13-foot ceilings, concrete bar tops, and tasteful finishes are only the beginning of this roughly 3500 square foot space. The state-of-the-art sound system, run by an in-house professional sound technician ensures that the room is tuned perfectly to the artist.
Best Visual Artist
Elizabeth Hults is an incredibly talented graphic designer and artist from Lakeland. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in both Graphic Design and Studio Art at Florida Southern, where she also studied painting and art history. Ms. Hults’ work can be seen as murals outside of Born & Bread and Revival and inside Black & Brew, just to name a few. She has also created commercial package designs for local companies in Central Florida.
3rd: Gabriela Jaxon
Emily Plank Photography
A graduate from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, Ms. Plank is a true artist in every sense of the word. Located in Lakeland, her clients have included Watson Clinic, Bok Tower Gardens, and the United Way of CF. With an eye for design, she will capture your event with beautiful images whether it’s a wedding, engagement, or a new baby.
2nd: Tina Sargeant
3rd: Ashley Holstein
Best Art Gallery
Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College
800 E Palmetto St, Lakeland
The permanent collection has grown to more than 2,800 works of art, including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso. This Smithsonian Affiliate sees 140,000 visitors a year with a diverse schedule of exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs. Admission to the museum is always free, however, due to new safety measures for COVID, your visit must be scheduled online in advance.
2nd: Melvin Art Gallery at Florida Southern College
FB: Bump Galletta
Josh “Bump” Galletta is a commercial artist and illustrator based in Lakeland. Some of his clients include GreenWise, Starbucks, and Visit Central Florida. What began as therapy after a traumatic accident has grown into a full-time job. Bump’s line drawings are available as prints, clothing, hats, and even masks online. Bump will occasionally hide “free art” around town, follow him on IG for more info.
2nd:Sara Kent Pennymade
3rd: Tate Krupa The Snark Remark
Best Public Art
502 E Main St. Lakeland
Created by Gillian Fazio Art at the new Catapult location. This mural begins with a black background and large white letters spelling CREATE surrounded by lifelike ferns, flowers, and a butterfly. This mural is both colorful and beautifully done, it’s sure to become an iconic piece of the city. (It makes a perfect selfie spot, too!) Ms. Fazio is both a studio artist and a muralist with work completed all over Florida.
2nd: “Tapestries Lakeland” an Un-Mural Art Exhibition
3rd: Swan Sculptures
Singer/songwriter Michael McArthur is a Lakeland native, creating music for over a decade. His soulful music is a mix between Americana & Folk and is complex yet somehow leaves you feeling completely chill at the same time. Check out his latest album, Ever Green, Ever Rain, which also happens to be the first release on his own label. Do yourself a favor, turn off your phone, pour yourself a cocktail, and listen to his album all the way through with someone you love.
3rd:Butch Queen & the Bad Habits
DJ MINi C Productions
7607 Chase Rd, Lakeland
This DJ and Entertainment service knows how to get the party started! DJ MINi C Productions specialize in weddings, but can also bust beats for corporate events, school dances, sports events, anniversaries, birthday parties, and more! Since 2010, DJ MINi C has served the entertainment needs of Lakeland, Tampa, Orlando, and the surrounding areas, providing photo booths, wedding coordinating, wedding planning, lighting, and beyond.
2nd:Thom Bly Triviosity Live Events
Best Tattoo Studio
Holy Grail Tattoo
121 E Alamo Dr, Lakeland
Holy Grail is an apt name for this top-notch tattoo studio! Established in 2014, Holy Grail Tattoo pride themselves in client education, cleanliness, and friendly, professional customer service. Art is the epicenter of the work they do from tattoos for clients to an in-house art gallery where local artists display and promote their work. “Fair, friendly, clean, and very professional. The artists are terrific. Easily the best tattoo shop in Lakeland, FL,” reviewed one Holy Grail client.
2nd:American Irons Tattoo Company
3rd: Black Swan Tattoo
Rock City Tattoo & Piercing Studio
4903 US Hwy 98 N, Lakeland
Rock City Tattoo & Piercing Studio is really moving the needle when it comes to giving their clients the perfect piercing. Rock City’s piercing artists are described by customers as professional, informative, and happy to answer questions. One Rock City customer raved, “I love my new piercings! Ana was very professional and helped me pick the perfect jewelry. She was great with walking me through the process to calm my nerves. I will definitely be back!”
2nd:The Emporium Lakeland
3rd:Lakeland Atomic Tattoos
Best Wedding Venue
820 N Massachusetts Ave, Lakeland
As part of a redevelopment project in downtown Lakeland, the restoration of the historic warehouse is the largest, non-traditional event venue in Lakeland. Haus 820 has original white brick, 22-foot ceilings, amber-stained and sealed cement floors with oversized warehouse windows. This space will hold up to 500 seated guests or can be made to feel more intimate for a smaller event. The space is a “blank canvas” where you can make the vision for your event come alive.
2nd: Hollis Garden
3rd: Harmony Haven Event Venue