Winter Haven Florida was defined for years by the presence of Cypress Gardens, one of the earliest Florida tourist attractions.
Cypress Gardens opened on January 2, 1936 and was the brainchild of Dick Pope, Sr. and his wife Julie. It became one of the biggest tourist attractions in Florida in the days before Walt Disney World came along.
It was known as the "Water Ski Capital of the World" because it was the center of that new and popular sport. Many movies were filmed at Cypress Gardens, including a few by the popular swimming star Esther Williams.
This world famous attraction featuring Southern Belles and talented water skiers operated from 1936 to 2009, finally closing its doors to be reborn in 2011 as the newest and largest Legoland amusement park in the world.
Legoland offers a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular Lego models and other interactive elements for the whole family to enjoy together.
They have also preserved key elements of the beloved Cypress Gardens.
More information is available at Legoland.
Winter Haven has always been a unique Florida town, with or without Cypress Gardens and Legoland.
The town is off the interstate highways in the rolling Central Florida land between Orlando and Tampa. Many tourists miss Winter Haven because it is not on the interstate route.
A scenic Florida backroads travel route is to exit I-4 a few miles west of US-27 and go south on County Road 557 through Lake Alfred. Then catch US-17 and go south all the way to Winter Haven. The town is about 11 miles south of I-4.
It is nestled among 50 lakes, of which 24 are connected by navigable canals. The entire system, known as the "Chain Of Lakes", is a boater's paradise.
Winter Haven is a close knit community of 34,000 people, and has preserved many of its historic houses and neighborhoods.
The main campus of the four-year Polk State College is located in Winter Haven.
Winter Haven is a good place to stage a Florida vacation.
Historic Bok Tower and Gardens is in nearby Lake Wales, and Fantasy of Flight Air Museum is just down the road.
Busch Gardens in Tampa and the Orlando attractions - Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios - are about an hour away.
RESTAURANTS & HOTELS IN WINTER HAVEN
TripAdvisor.com has a good list of Winter Haven restaurants and hotels.