Fort Meade is the oldest city in Polk County, dating its origins to 1849 when it was an old military road from Tampa (Fort Brooke) to Fort Pierce during the Indian wars. The 1880s business district was located on old Wire Street (now Broadway), which was a casualty of 4 devastating fires. Today, there are over 150 which are designated as landmarks. In the 1890s the Fort Meade Street Railway operated a horse-drawn service in the town.
The earliest known burial is John I. Hooker (1821–1862) located in the Evergreen Cemetery in town. Fort Meade's Christ Church (Episcopal) located at 526 N. Oak was built in 1889. It is a frame vernacular with Gothic Revival elements and was designed by architect J. H. Weddell. A minister by the name of C.E Butler had committed suicide at the church in 1894. Located next to Christ Church is the famous Rev. Wm James Reid House. Located within the historic district, the house was used for the HBO motion picture The Judgement featuring Blythe Danner, Keith Carradine and Jack Warden (1990).
Future Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was stationed at the fort in 1851. The town was burned by Union forces in 1864 and all of the original structures were destroyed, except the 2nd fort which was dismantled in the 1890s. Fort Meade has over 300 homes on the National Register of Historic Places and a handful that date to the late 1800s.
Fort Meade is located at the junction of U.S. 17 (which runs north-south through town) and U.S. 98. The two roads meet in the center of town, where U.S. 98 comes from the east (from Frostproof/Avon Park), U.S. 17 comes from the south (from Hardee County), and the combined U.S. 17/98 runs north to Bartow.
The nearest airports with regular, commercial flights are Tampa International Airport (IATA: TPA) and Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO), both about 75-90 minutes away. Bartow Municipal Airport off U.S. 17 a couple miles northeast of Bartow is the closest airport for general aviation.
The town is quite small (extending only a few blocks in all directions from the intersection of U.S. 17 & U.S. 98. Homeland is located a couple miles north of town, near the junction of U.S. 17/98 and C.R. 640.
Fort Meade is small enough that it is easy to get around on foot. To reach any of the rural area around town, the only practical means of getting around is with a car. Rental cars are available in Bartow.
- Checker Cab Co., ☎ +1 863 665-8151. Serves all of Polk County.
- Yellowcab/Maingate Taxi, ☎ +1 863 292-9166. Serves all of Polk County.
- Polk County Taxi, ☎ +1 863 521-2924, toll-free: +1-800-829-4222. Serves all of Polk County.
- Homeland Heritage Park, 249 Church Ave (From U.S. 17, turn west on C.R. 640 & then left on Azalea.), ☎ +1 863 534-3766. M-F 8AM-5PM. Located in Homeland, just a couple miles north of town off U.S. 17. Free.
- Streamsong Golf Resort & Spa, 1000 Streamsong Dr (Follow C.R. 630 west of town. Turn left (S) onto Fort Green Rd. After a couple miles, the resort will appear on the left.), ☎ +1 863 354-6980. An $80 million resort built by the phosphate mining company Mosaic on reclaimed land where they once operated a strip mine. The resort features two 72-par golf courses (known as "Red" and "Blue"). The clubhouse has a fine restaurant, conference facilities, and 12 guest rooms. The courses & clubhouse opened in December 2012. The remainder of the resort will open towards the end of 2013 and will include a 216-room upscale hotel, spa, and shooting range. The hope of the builders and local tourism officials is that this will become a world-renowned resort and be able to host professional tournaments. Prices will be higher during the winter and lower in the summer, when the heat, humidity, and regular thunderstorms will make a day of golfing less pleasant. 18-holes for around $200, not including cart, caddy, or club rental..
- Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area (Located off south side of U.S. 98 where it crosses Peace River.), ☎ +1 863 285-1110. Small park on Peace River. Great spot to launch a canoe or kayak on the river.
- Mosaic Peace River Park (From U.S. 17/98 at Homeland, turn east on C.R. 640. Entrance is on the left.), ☎ +1 863 534-4340. Boardwalk through oak hammocks.
- Patterson Park (West side of U.S. 17/98.), ☎ +1 863 285-1100. Paved trail winds around a couple small lakes.
- Peace River Hammock (From town, head south on U.S. 17., turn left (W) onto Berquist Rd. Where it ends, turn right (SE) onto Mt Pisgah Rd and drive 1 mi. Parking is on right (W) just before Dishong Rd.). 6AM-6PM Standard Time, 5:30AM-8PM Daylight Savings Time. A 42 ac park along the Peace River. A short trail runs through an oak hammock to the Peace River, where canoes & kayaks can be launched (they must be carried to river from parking area). Aside from the parking area, trail, and cleared canoe/kayak launch, there are no facilities.
The annual Alafia River Rendezvous () is a large reenactment of a frontier village (early/mid 19th century) held near Homeland in January. The village is open to the public for the weekend, while the Rendezvous lasts for an entire week for Boy Scouts, school trips, and the Florida Frontiersmen society.
The Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club (, +1 863 285-9121) puts on a few events each year at a venue at 7000 Avon Park Cut Off Road (a few miles east of town). These events feature old/antique engines, farm equipment, tractors, cars, and machinery as well as an antiques market. An antique engine & tractor swap meet is held in January; an antique engine & tractor show is held in February; and the "Fall Fuel Up" is held in November.
The Peace River Folk Festival is held each January (contact the Fort Meade Chamber of Commerce: +1 863 285-8253, ). The Annual Cracker Storytelling Festival (+1 863 534-4340) is held each October at the Homeland Heritage Park. Storytellers take listeners back to the Florida's frontier days with tales of "Cracker" life.
- Broadway Café, 119 W Broadway St, ☎ +1 863 285-7077. Breakfast & lunch M-F.
- Classic Pizza, 403 W Broadway, ☎ +1 863 285-6411. Lunch & dinner M-F.
- Double RR Café, 802 S Charleston Ave, ☎ +1 863 285-9984. Breakfast & lunch M-Sa.
- John's Drive-In & Restaurant, 17 N Charleston Ave, ☎ +1 863 285-5202. Breakfast, lunch, & dinner daily..
- McDonald's, 200 N Charleston Ave, ☎ +1 863 285-6993.
- Hammock Lake RV Park, 1801 U.S. Hwy 17 S, ☎ +1 863 285-9560, fax: +1 863 285-9560. 97 sites. Hookups & dump station. Laundry available. Pool. Pets allowed. Handicapped access. Free wi-fi internet access available.
Polk County Sheriff: +1 863 533-0344 (Emergencies: 911)
Fort Meade Police Dept: +1 863 285-100 (Emergencies: 911)
Public internet access is available at the public library:
- Ft. Meade Public Library, 75 E Broadway St (Corner of U.S. 98 & Lanier Ave, one block east of U.S. 17 & U.S. 98 intersection.), ☎ +1 863 285-8287. M/W 9AM-9PM, Tu/Th/F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-noon.
There is a post office in Fort Meade and one in the community of Homeland:
- Fort Meade Post Office, 21 N Seminole Ave, ☎ +1 863 285-6610. M-F 9AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-noon.
- Homeland Post Office, 339 4th St, ☎ +1 863 533-8989. M-F 8AM-noon; Sa 9:30AM-11:30AM.
|Routes through Fort Meade|
|Orlando ← Bartow ←||N S||→ Bowling Green → Punta Gorda|
|Lakeland ← Bartow ←||N S||→ Frostproof → West Palm Beach|