By  Mike Miller  Updated September 10, 2023

Babson Park, Florida is located on Scenic Highway 17 in rural Polk County. 

Although it is officially part of the Lakeland - Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area, is is really a small quiet central Florida sanctuary surrounded by thousands of acres of citrus.  

Roger BabsonRoger Babson

A bit more than 1,451 people live in the village nestled on the eastern shore of Crooked Lake among the rolling hills and orange groves in this rural section of south Central Florida.

The town is named for Roger Babson, the founder of Babson College in Massachusetts.

Babson was a well known businessman, inventor, and financial expert. He received an engineering degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1898.

While at MIT he convinced the dean to include a business course. 

It became known as "Business Engineering" and is now seen as the forerunner of the MBA programs you see in most colleges.

In 1927, he was given an honorary LLD degree from the University of Florida, citing him as a prominent statistician and economist who helped further the interests of the State of Florida.

Babson was the Prohibition Party's candidate for President of the United States in 1940, but he was beaten by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wendell Wilkie and Norman Thomas. At least he gave it a try.

Roger Babson lived a long productive life and died in nearby Lake Wales in 1967 at the age of 91.


Webber International UniversityWebber International University

In 1927 Babson and his wife, Grace Knight Babson, founded Webber International University.

Webber was originally established as a women's college, with the exclusive purpose of teaching women about business.

It was the first school chartered under the educational and charitable laws of the State of Florida as a non-profit organization.

Male students were first allowed in 1971, and Webber is now a fully accredited coed university of about 400 full time students.

It is one of eleven schools recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a "School With a Specialty":  Business.

Babson Park Florida Lake ViewCrooked Lake, Babson Park

Webber now issues degrees in accounting, computer information systems management, hospitality and tourism management along with many other programs.  

More information about Webber International is available at their website.

Hillcrest Lodge was originally built in 1917 in the tiny village of Hillcrest Heights on the south edge of Babson Park.

It was originally known as the Lakeside Club because it was built on the shore of Crooked Lake.

Hillcrest Lodge Babson Park FloridaHillcrest Lodge

Many celebrities of the old days stayed at the lodge including Babe Ruth and William Jennings Bryan. Hillcrest Heights has a population of less than 255 as of 2023.


Webber International University
1201 N Scenic Hwy, Babson Park, FL 33827 | (863) 638-2910 

Begin your journey with a visit to Webber International University. Tucked away amidst lush greenery, this charming campus exudes a peaceful ambiance.

Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque grounds, admiring the architecture and serene surroundings. Our favorite spot? The university's iconic Babson Park Tower, offering panoramic views of the campus and beyond.

Whether you're a history buff or just seeking a tranquil walk, Webber International University provides a delightful escape.  

Crooked Lake Prairie
971 Ohlinger Road, Babson Park, FL 33827 | (863) 534-6911 

For nature enthusiasts, Crooked Lake Prairie is a slice of untouched Florida. Sandy trails wind through ancient sand dunes, and you’ll spot Florida scrub-jays flitting about.

Keep an eye out for gopher tortoises—they’re the real estate moguls of the prairie!  The shoreline beckons anglers, and a short boardwalk offers dreamy lake views. Pro tip: Sunrise or sunset hikes here are pure magic.  

Hillcrest Lodge
241 Palm Ave, Babson Park, FL 33827 | (863) 638-1712 

There is an excellent description of Hillcrest Lodge earlier on this page. Here is its contact information.

Crooked Lake Sandhill
1001 Hollister Road, Babson Park, FL 33827 | (863) 534-6911 

Calling all wildflower hunters! At Crooked Lake Sandhill, you’ll wander through an airy pine forest. The Lake Wales Ridge reveals its secrets—this is one of the last remaining sandhill habitats in Polk County.

Picture yourself 215 feet above sea level (a big deal for us flatland-loving Floridians!)

Babson Park Nature Center
200 N Crooked Lake Dr, Babson Park, FL | (863) 638-1355  

Step into a desert-like ecosystem at the Ridge Audobon Society’s Babson Park Nature Center, located at Webber International University. This quarter-mile nature trail winds through rare species’ habitat, found exclusively on the Lake Wales Ridge.

Listen to the rustle of scrub oaks and watch for elusive wildlife. It’s like entering a secret garden—the kind that whispers stories of Florida’s past.

Our Facebook page has more than 130,000 followers who love off the beaten path Florida: towns, tourist attractions, maps, lodging, food, festivals, scenic road trips, day trips, history, culture, nostalgia, and more.  We post articles every day.  Please check it out and if you like it, we would appreciate a "like" from you.