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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
- Checker Cab Co., ☎ +1 863 665-8151.
- Yellow Cab/Maingate Taxi, ☎ +1 863 292-9166.
- Polk County Taxi, ☎ +1 863 521-2924, toll-free: +1-800-829-4222.
- Fantasy of Flight, 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E. (S.R. 559) (From I-4, take S.R. 559 (Exit 44). Go north to the flashing red light & turn left. FoF is 1/4 mi on left.), ☎ +1 863 984-3500. Fantasy of Flight is the world's largest private aircraft collection on display. The collection mostly features pre-1960s military and civilian aircraft. Not only are the aircraft on display, but visitors can enter a couple of the aircraft, visit the restoration facility to see rare and vintage aircraft being returned to their former glory, and discover some living history exhibits. Fantasy of Flight hosts several vintage aircraft events each year.
- Waldo Wright's Flying Service, ☎ +1 863 873-1339. Ride in vintage biplanes! Experience a flight in a real, open-air biplane in the skies over Central Florida. Rides cost $70-230 for 15-30 minute flights.
- Mustangs & Mustangs — Held each April at Fantasy of Flight, this event features restored WWII-era P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft and Ford Mustang automobiles. (Website)
- Sun 'n Fun's Splash-In — Fantasy of Flight hosts a variety of vintage, restored seaplanes and amphibious aircraft to coincide with the annual Sun 'n Fun aircraft show held in Lakeland each April. (Website)
- AWSEF Water Ski Hall of Fame, 1251 Holy Cow Rd. (From I-4, take exit 44 (S.R. 559), and turn north. At light, turn right on C.R. 557A. Left on Holy Cow Rd.), ☎ +1 863 324-2472. M-F 10AM-5PM. Museum founded by the American Water Ski Educational Foundation to preserve water ski memorabilia to the public. Items on display include ropes and handles from 1922 to the present, assorted engines, skiers' costumes, and plenty of skis, including the first skis crafted by the sport's inventor! There is also a library, hosting a large collection of video documentation, and a Hall of Fame honoring notable skiers over the sport's history with displays noting their accomplishments. Adults $5; Seniors $4; Children under 12 $3; Children 5 & under Free.
- Van Fleet State Trail, ☎ +1 352 516-7384. Daily sunrise-sunset. A former railroad line which has been converted into a paved, multi-use trail. The trail stretches 29.2 mi (47.0 km) across the Green Swamp from Polk City to Mabel in Lake County. The trail has four trailheads. The Polk City Trailhead is located at the intersection of S.R. 33 & C.R. 665 and the Green Pond Trailhead is located off of S.R. 33 & Green Pond Rd. Further north in Lake County are the Bay Lake Trailhead south side of C.R. 565 and the Mabel Trailhead off S.R. 50. Each trailhead has parking, restrooms, covered picnic tables, and drinking fountains. Biking, walking, inline skating, and horseback riding are permitted on the trail. The scenery is rather plain, with the usual animal life: deer, armadillos, tortoises, racoons, snakes, and plenty of birds (osprey, egrets, herons, and even bald eagles). The trail is almost perfectly straight and there is no shelter, which means there is little escape from summer heat and thunderstorms (so plan accordingly and bring plenty of water!). Free.
- Balloons & Beyond, ☎ +1 813 240-4844, e-mail: email@example.com. Sunrise hot air balloon trips over Polk City and other Central Florida locations. Trips generally last around 45 minutes and accommodate 2-5 passengers, plus pilot. $175/person; $500 for couples (private flight).
- Fluid Ski & Sports, 1251 Holy Cow Rd., ☎ +1 863 412-7547, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Water skiing lessons & coaching, from beginners to pros.
- Freedom Park (Intersection of S.R. 33 & Berkeley Rd.). Dawn-dusk.. Small town park with playgrounds, picnic tables, a stage, and restrooms.
- Polk City Fishing Pier (Intersection of Lakeshore Dr. & Lakeshore Ct.). Fishing pier on Lake Agnes with covered picnic tables on land.
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.
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).
- Lelunn RV Resort, 1513 S.R. 559, ☎ +1 863 984-1495, toll-free: +1 800-736-0409, fax: +1 863 984-0257. 347 sites. Hookups & dump station. Laundry & showers available. Pool. Pets allowed. Handicapped access. Wi-fi internet access available (for a charge).
- Lu Ha R.V. Park, 315 N Commonwealth (S.R. 33), ☎ +1 863 984-2826. 19 sites. Hookups & dump station. Laundry & showers available. Pets allowed.
- Polk City Community Library, 215 S. Bougainvillea Ave, ☎ +1 863 984-4340. M-Tu 9AM-6PM; W-Th 9AM-5PM; Fr-Sa 9AM-1PM. Public internet access available, no Both computers and wireless internet access are available.
- Polk City Post Office, 112 Carter Blvd, ☎ +1 863 984-4547. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM.
- Florida Polytechnic University, 4700 Research Way (From Polk Parkway, exit Pace Road (Exit 23) & turn west. Follow to Research Way.), ☎ +1 863 583-9050. Opening in autumn 2014, this science- & technology-focused public university will likely offer events typical of a university, including visiting lecturers, themed conferences/symposiums, and other learning opportunities for the general public.
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.
- First Help Urgent Care Clinic, 235 N. Commonwealth Ave (S.R. 33), ☎ +1 863 984-8000. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM, Sa 9AM-12:30PM.
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 E ← Auburndale ←||W E||→ END|