13 Best Things To Do When You Visit Legoland Winter Haven0
So you’ve planned a trip to Central Florida and LEGOLAND made the list. That’s great! If you’re staying in Orlando and planned a day trip to Winter Haven to visit the famous park, no problem. Just walk to the lobby of your hotel and there should be a bazillion brochures for touristy things to do.
However, if you stayed in or around Winter Haven during your visit, the choices aren’t so obvious. You could drive to Orlando every day to find something to do but a much more fun and relaxing option is to visit some of our local favorites. There are many things to do in the area and once you leave the park, you’ll still see more locals than you will tourists, which can be refreshing if you just came from Orlando.
Here are the 13 best things to do when you visit LEGOLAND with your family:
While at LEGOLAND
1) Try Granny’s Apple Fries
Absolutely must have! If you don’t get an order of these fries while you are in the park then you should be ashamed of yourself. It was my second visit to the park when I discovered them and since then I have ordered every time I visit. They are that good.
When you enter the park, just follow the flow of traffic but as soon as you see the carousel turn right and start looking for the Granny’s Apple Fries shop. If you don’t want them when you first get in to the park, make a note of where the store is so you can hit it on the way out. It’s the only place in the park to get them. So try Granny’s Apple fries and your kids will thank you. They are delicious. Plus, since they are technically apples, they can’t be bad for you…
2) Take a Ride on the Island in the Sky
This ride is pretty much the same as it was when Cypress Gardens owned it. The Lego based adventure park even kept the same name.
It’s basically a big arm that raises into the air and spins slowly giving you a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
On a clear day it is refreshing, relaxing, and gorgeous all at the same time.
I didn’t care for the ride before but perhaps I’ve gotten older and more mellow. If you rode it in the past before it was updated it, you will notice it is now much more comfortable and feels safer than it did before.
3) Enjoy the Lego Mini Models of Cities and Attractions
As you venture further into the park you’ll see some miniature models of the major cities made entirely of Legos. This is one of my favorite parts about LEGOLAND (aside from Granny’s good ole apple fries).
Make sure you take your time looking at these. I always notice more details each time I visit.
If you like model trains or anything like that, you’ll love these Lego models.
It’s also a great learning opportunity for your kids.
They may recognize the Statue of Liberty and since it’s made entirely out of Legos they will actually pay attention to what you have to say and ask questions.
So when you get to this area, slow down, take it all in, and spend time talking with your kids about the sites on display.
4) # Take Lots of Pictures with Oversized Lego Models
My family likes to make fun of me because I’m old and every time I’ve ever tried to describe hashtag I say “pound” instead.
The reason I do this is because I’m old school and this (#) is called a pound symbol. I have no idea who started calling it a hashtag but it’s not a hashtag, it’s a pound symbol.
Anyway, if you like to post to social media and take hashtag photos, the entire park is a hashtag picture takers dream come true.
Even if that’s not your thing, make sure you take lots of photos with the giant oversized Lego people (and animals).
It’s easy to get desensitized by all the Legos and forget that they are incredibly cool, so stop and take some pics… # Mywinterhavefl.com
5) Hack LEGOLAND’s Water Park
I’m about to give you an awesome secret. If you’ve never been to LEGOLAND before, the water park is on the opposite side of the main entrance. So when you enter, you walk around, get hot and sticky, and then go to the waterpark to cool off. The secret is… So does everybody else. And there is your hack!
There is no exit or entrance to only the water park. We local and sporadic season pass holders learned the hard way that you have to walk all the way to the end of the park to get to the water park and then walk all the way out. Merlin Entertainment probably set it up that way for a strategic reason, but this post is not about that.
So to hack this design flaw, start with the water park. As soon as you enter the gates, walk all the way to the back. Just keep walking, ask employees “which way to the water park” and just keep walking until you get there. Then do the attraction backwards. Do the water section first while everybody else is working their way through the other sections. When you are done with the water rides, work your way all the way to the front (and your point of exit).
This LEGOLAND hack has two benefits. The first is you are doing things different from the masses so hypothetically, when you get to Granny’s Apple Fries many people will have already had them so the line should go quicker. Secondly (and more importantly), when you are done with the park you are already at the exit.
One of the worst things about an amusement park is the walk back out to your car. Imagine you’ve walked around all day with your kids in the hot Florida sun until you were exhausted. Then you found yourself at a watery oasis to take a break. So you did and it was enjoyable. But now you are even more tired and you need to walk through the Lego maze one more time to get to your car. You may even find that your family (not you) is getting a little cranky at this time. So hack that water park and go through LEGOLAND in reverse.
6) Shoot the Water Cannons in the Quest for Chi
The World of Chima features an interactive water ride called the Quest for Chi. It’s a guided boat ride and all the boats have water cannons so you can shoot at other boats and at one point in the ride you can shoot at people walking on the sidewalk. Be careful though, there are also water guns for those walking by that they can shoot back with. The advantage is yours though as your boat is moving and they are stationary.
It’s also a great spot to go if you are waiting for somebody to get off a ride or finish shopping somewhere. If you’re in the vicinity, there have a been a few times I’ve meandered to the water-guns to have water battles with the people on the boats while I wait. It passes the time much quicker.
While in the Winter Haven Area
7) Visit the famous Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales
My MapQuest App says Bok Tower Gardens is only 17 minutes from LEGOLAND. If you’re staying in one of the hotels closer to Lake Wales, it’s an even shorter drive from your hotel. Edward W. Bok created the famous Gardens around 1925 and the “singing tower” as it’s called is still a magnificent sound when it chimes.
I wouldn’t recommend going in the same day, but if you plan to go to the waterpark portion, Bok Tower would be a great place to visit before LEGOLAND, depending on if you can schedule it right. Bok opens at 8 AM and the theme park opens at 10. Ideally though, I would schedule them for different days altogether. That way you won’t be rushed and you can enjoy them.
There are trails, lively squirrels, some historical pieces, and fish you can feed (or your children can feed). Make sure you take some quarters for the fish food machines. The Gardens are very peaceful and quiet. I’ve never felt crowded there, not even during an event.
It’s also good for my children who could use a little more good old fashioned outdoor fun. Yes… a trail and a stick are all kids really needs to be happy.
8) Take your kids to visit 2 Infinity Trampoline Park in Lakeland
When the trail and the stick fail to bring smiles, you can always bribe them with Trampolines.
2 Infinity is going to be a bit out of the way as its 42 minutes from LEGOLAND.
However, its completely worth the drive. I’ve been to a few of these type of parks and for what it’s worth, it’s better than the ones I’ve been to in cities like Orlando.
If you’re going to visit a trampoline park while you’re in Central Florida, go to the cleanest, best organized one I’ve been too, which would be 2 Infinity.
It’s an opportunity to see more of Central Florida than most tourists see and it’s well worth it. For a more detailed description of 2 infinity visit my 2 Infinity review.
9) Take your family to one of the Winter Haven Playground locations
Trailhead Park is park is right downtown and is a great getaway for kids.
It’s free, there are bathrooms, and it gives them a chance to play outside. Usually it’s local kids.
Again, once you leave the LEGOLAND theme park you won’t run into lots of tourists, but that can be a good thing.
In 2016 they added a water portion to the park that is still a pretty well kept secret. Be sure to bring some swimming attire. Unfortunately, dogs are not supposed to be at the park so leave Marley at home.
Another great park to visit which also includes the best dogpark in Winter Haven is Simmers Young Park.
It’s not in the central of the city but it is quite a bit larger than Trailhead Park.
Our post, the Best Reasons to visit Simmers Young Park will give you an in depth look at that facility and everything it has to offer.
It has a more extensive playground, dog park, sports fields, and more space (tables and parking). It doesn’t have a water element however, so if you’ve got kids who want to take advantage of the water, stick to Trailhead park.
10) Enjoy Ice Cream at Andy’s Igloo (9 minutes from LEGOLAND)
Andy’s Igloo. This is a Winter Haven Staple. Years ago, across the street from Andy’s Igloo there was the Winter Haven Mall.
Now, it’s a plaza of sorts that houses Macy’s, Lowes, and Longhorns Steakhouse (among others).
But Andy’s Igloo is still there, hopefully it always will be.
It’s still a favorite place for getting the best ice cream in town.
Stop by on your way to or from the Trailhead Park Playground because it’s in the same general area. Or just stop by after a long, hot day at LEGOLAND, your kids will wonder how much better their day can get.
11) Grab a Steak at Manny’s Chophouse
Just a hop, skip, and jump down the street is Manny’s Chophouse (literally – you could walk there from Andy’s.
This is a must stop for dinner while you’re in Winter Haven.
Locally owned and operated, the first Manny’s Original Chophouse opened in Haines City in 2004 and now the family has 3 locations.
It will no doubt be a larger chain eventually, I understand they are working to offer franchises.
Stop in now while it’s still completely authentic. Their rolls and salad that come with the meal can’t be beat.
I once did a tour of hard rock cafés.
If you really like Manny’s when you stop in, you could easily visit all three locations if you were in the area for a few days.
Just remember that they don’t open until 4pm. So don’t try to show up for lunch.
12) Visit the Lowry Park Zoo
So this one is quite a bit out of the way, but if you flew into Tampa instead of Orlando for some reason it’s a good option.
The Lowry Park Zoo is located in Tampa and if you do drive there from Winter Haven it’s about an hour drive, give or take a few minutes for traffic.
Take some quarters, cash, or get a toll fast pass because you’ll be on a toll road. There’s a little water area close to the front of the park so don’t forget to take your kids swim gear.
Overall it’s a pretty good and clean zoo with lots of animals (go figure). It’s not a tourist destination zoo like Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
It’s just a good old fashioned zoo and it’s definitely worth a day trip.
13) Go Shooting at LeadFeather Guns and Archery
Guns and Archery you say?… Welcome to Polk County.
Winter Haven is located in the Center of Polk County Florida, home to Sheriff Grady Judd. Grady Judd is known for his being direct to the media and not worrying about political correctness.
He has been quoted as saying that the reason a suspect was shot 68 times was because it was all the bullets we had.
Why am I talking about Grady Judd?
Because many Polk County residents feel the way Grady Judd talks. That’s why he’s still the sheriff.
So if you are a gun owner, fanatic, or if you’re interested in shooting guns for the first time, stop by LeadFeather Guns and Archery to fire off some rounds.
It’s a great stress reliever and only 4 minutes (1.9 miles) from the attraction.
If you’ve never shot a gun before the staff there is absolutely amazing.
I’ve not done a lot of shooting but I have been there a few times.
Just let them know you want to shoot and you’ve never shot before. They’ll get you all set up and go over safety procedures with you.
You can rent a gun, buy ammo, and purchase targets all right there. Then you go inside the range and open fire.
That about does it for this post for now. I’ll add more as time goes on.
Please comment and let others know you’re favorite things to do near Winter Haven.