Polk City

Fantasy of Flight.

Polk City is a small town in Polk County, Florida. It is home to Fantasy of Flight and located on the southern edge of the Green Swamp.


The town proper consists of just 1500 people and 0.8 mi2 (2 km2) of land. Despite the tiny size, Polk City refers to most of the north-central part of the county. This area is part of the Green Swamp, which is the origin of most of west-central Florida's rivers, including the Peace, Hillsborough, Withlacoochee, & Ocklawaha Rivers. The town, just like the county, is named for James Polk, the 11th president of the United States.


Polk City's climate is much the same as the rest of Central Florida (except coasts). Winters are mild, with highs in the 70s (21-27°C) and lows in the 50s (10-15°C). Lows in the 30s (0-5°C) are common after cold fronts and there are usually a handful of lows below freezing each winter, although that requires clear skies, so it usually warms very rapidly after sunrise (30°F at 6AM, 55°F by noon is typical). Cold fronts occasionally pass by as squall lines, so tornadoes in December or January are not unusual. Snow is rare; the last measurable snowfall was in 1977, although sleet/wintry mix fell in an unusually cold January 2010. Summers are hot and humid, with highs around 90-95°F (33-35°C) and lows around 74-78°F (23-26°C). During the summer, onshore winds from both coasts travel inland, heat up, rise and build into thunderstorms, usually along a rough line. Lying in the center of the state, the line of storms (each called a "seabreeze") often collide and become severe, with tornadoes (small EF0-1s...not like the powerful tornadoes in the Plains states), 50+ mph winds, and hail possible. Strong storms are usually preceded by cooler winds caused by the rain-cooled air (cold air sinks) rapidly flowing away from the storm. The temperature after a strong thunderstorm passes can drop from 95°F (35°C) to 75°F (24°C) and since the storms can be fairly small, you can drive 5 miles and the temperature will drop/rise 20°F (10°C) between rain-cooled and surrounding areas.

Get in

One of just 6 surviving B-26 Marauder aircraft from WWII and the only airworthy one in the world on display at Fantasy of Flight.

By car

Polk City is located just off of Interstate 4, roughly half-way between Tampa and Orlando. Two state roads run through town. State Road 33 runs southwest to Lakeland, intersecting twice with I-4—Exit 38 is closest to town, while Exit 33 is in North Lakeland. S.R. 33 continues north, through the Green Swamp, to Lake County, where it ends at U.S. 27 near Florida's Turnpike. S.R. 559 runs south from the center of town, past Fantasy of Flight, where it intersects with I-4 (Exit 44), and continues south to Auburndale. County Road 557A travels southeast to a junction with C.R. 557, which leads south to Lake Alfred.

By air

Fantasy of Flight maintains two turf runways for private use (generally only available for use by aircraft visiting the museum). The "airport" is identified as "Orlampa" (FAA LID: FA08).

The nearest airports for general aviation are Winter Haven Municipal Airport (IATA: GIF, between Auburndale & Winter Haven) and the adjacent Jack Brown's Seaplane Base (FAA LID: F57). Lakeland has two airports: Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (IATA: LAL) on the southwest side of Lakeland is the largest/busiest airport in the county (served by commercial flights in 2010-11) and closer to downtown is South Lakeland Airport (FAA LID: X49).

The nearest commercial airports, both about an hour's drive away, are Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO) and Tampa International Airport (IATA: TPA).

By bus

There is no public transportation available to reach Polk City. The nearest bus routes extend only to northeast Lakeland and Auburndale. The nearest Greyhound bus station is in Lakeland.

By train

The nearest train stations are located in Lakeland and Winter Haven.

Get around

There is no public transportation available in the area. The only option to get around is with your own vehicle. The nearest rental car agencies are in Auburndale and Lakeland.

By taxi

These taxi companies claim to serve all of Polk County. Given the distance between Polk City and nearby towns, it may take a while for the taxi to arrive (if not pre-scheduled) and the total fare may be pricey.


Aircraft on display at Fantasy of Flight.

Fantasy of Flight closed as a daily attraction on April 6, 2014. The owners plan to reopen in winter 2014/15 in a limited capacity. During that time it will only be open for private events.


Van Fleet State Trail at Green Pond Trailhead.

Public boat ramps are available on Lake Agnes (333 Bridges Rd.), Lake Tennessee (Off Old Berkley Rd./C.R. 559A), & Mudd Lake (off S.R. 33)


There's no shops of note in Polk City. Fantasy of Flight used to operate a gift shop that was open to the public (no paid admission needed) and may reopen in winter 2014/15.


A restored P-51 Mustang at Fantasy of Flight.

There are no restaurants in Polk City. Fantasy of Flight has a cafe called ”Compass Rose” which is open for private events and may reopen in winter 2014/15 (previously, no paid admission was need to eat there).


There are no hotels in Polk City. The nearest hotels (less than 20 minutes away) can be found on the north side of Lakeland and in Auburndale.



Stay safe

Polk County Sheriff: +1 863 533-0344 (Emergency: 911)

Occasionally during the winter, there are mornings where dense fog forms in the Green Swamp. If there is any smoke from small wildfires or controlled burns, the smoke will mix with the fog to form a very dense fog, where visibility drops from clear to less than 5 ft (2 m) in less than a half mile! Such a super-fog resulted in an 70-car pileup on Interstate 4 in 2008, which killed 4 people and closed this major highway for over 36 hours. Electronic message boards have been installed every few miles along I-4 through the Green Swamp and can alert drivers to fog.

Stay healthy

Go next

Polk City is conveniently located on Interstate 4, making it easy to reach Walt Disney World, Kissimmee, & Tampa. Legoland Florida is just a 30 minute drive away in Winter Haven.

For aviation buffs, the annual Sun 'n Fun Fly-in—the country's 2nd largest air show—at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport each April is not to be missed. The Florida Air Museum, also in Lakeland, has a modest collection of aircraft and a large amount of aviation memorabilia. Warbird Adventures & the Kissimmee Air Museum in Kissimmee have vintage aircraft on display and flights in vintage WWII fighter aircraft, where you take the controls. Preston Aviation offers biplane rides in Winter Haven.

Many more nature parks and outdoor activities can be found throughout Polk County.

Routes through Polk City

Tampa Lakeland  W  E  Davenport Orlando
END  N  S  Auburndale Ends at W E
Lakeland W EAuburndale  W  E  END

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.