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Lake Morton Lakeland FL

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Fri, Dec 29, 2023 at 11:35AM

Lake Morton: A Serene Getaway in Lakeland FL

Are you wondering what draws visitors and locals to Lake Morton in Lakeland, FL? From its reputation as a birdwatcher’s haven to its storied community and environmental efforts, this article dives into the heart of Lake Morton’s allure. Discover the activities, events, and heritage that await in and around this treasured lake and nearby South Lake Morton Historic District.

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Key Takeaways

  • Lake Morton, located in Lakeland, FL, is a sanctuary for a diverse array of birds and is surrounded by lush gardens and parks, offering picturesque spots for nature walks and picnics.

  • The Lake Morton neighborhood boasts a rich architectural heritage, featuring a mix of styles such as Mediterranean Revival and Craftsman bungalows, and is home to historic districts and landmarks like the Lakeland Public Library and Florida Southern College.

  • Efforts are being made by community organizations and conservation foundations to improve Lake Morton’s environmental conditions by monitoring water quality and implementing restoration projects to combat issues like bacterial and mercury contamination.

Discovering Lake Morton's Natural Beauty

A serene lake with white and black swans swimming gracefully, surrounded by lush green spaces

Lake Morton, a beautiful lake in Lakeland, FL, is a veritable paradise for nature enthusiasts. Bestowed with an array of bird species and enveloped by lush green spaces, the lake paints a scenic picture that captivates the hearts of visitors and residents alike. The sight of white and black swans gliding gracefully on the lake’s tranquil surface, coupled with the chorus of birds in the backdrop, makes for an enchanting experience.

Unquestionably, this stunning lake serves as a sanctuary for birdwatchers, attracting them to observe and capture the diverse avian species. From swans, pelicans, ducks, and geese to eagles, the lake is home to a plethora of birds, making every visit a unique experience. Furthermore, these feathered residents are safeguarded through the city of Lakeland’s designation of Lake Morton as a Bird Sanctuary.

Birdwatching Heaven

A group of white pelicans gracefully gliding on the water of Lake Morton

From novices to seasoned ornithologists, Lake Morton provides a birdwatching experience second to none. The lake is a sanctuary for a variety of avian species, including:

  • Graylag Goose

  • Swan Goose

  • Black Swan

  • Mandarin Duck

Observing white swans, these birds, and other birds in their natural habitat is truly a sight to behold.

While the lake teems with birds year-round, the ideal birdwatching period spans from June to mid-August and resumes from late November. So, arm yourself with binoculars and some bread for our avian friends, then set off to Lake Morton Drive for an unforgettable birdwatching adventure.

Surrounding Gardens and Green Spaces

Beautiful gardens and green spaces surrounding Lake Morton

Lake Morton’s allure isn’t confined to its waters. Stunning gardens and parks encircle the lake, transforming it into an ideal spot for casual strolls, picnics, and outdoor activities. The Hollis Garden and Circle B Bar Reserve, in particular, are popular destinations that offer panoramic views of the lake and its avian inhabitants. Just a short distance away, Lake Hollingsworth also provides a picturesque setting for nature enthusiasts.

These gardens are home to an array of tree species and unique flora, meticulously maintained by the City of Lakeland’s Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department. So, escape the city hustle and bustle, and relax amid nature in these tranquil green spaces enveloping Lake Morton.

History and Architecture of Lake Morton Neighborhood

Delve into the rich history of the Lake Morton neighborhood, a legacy tracing back to the early 20th century. Stepping into this neighborhood is like going back in time, with its charming bungalows and Mediterranean-style buildings offering a glimpse into the past. Developed around 1906, the neighborhood stands as an embodiment of the architectural trends prevalent during that period.

Notable architects like Sam Sheets and J. Bruce Spencer have left their mark in the Lake Morton neighborhood. Their contributions have shaped the architectural landscape of the area, adding to its historic charm. Today, the neighborhood epitomizes Lakeland’s abundant architectural heritage.

Historic District Charm

The South and East Lake Morton Historic Districts are jewels of the neighborhood. Since their designation in 1987, these districts display a medley of architectural styles, ranging from Mediterranean Revival to Craftsman bungalows, which mirror their historical importance.

These districts are not just about historic buildings and architectural styles; they also embody a strong sense of community and charm. Their historical importance, intertwined with the ‘front porch mentality,’ enhances the districts’ allure, endearing them to both residents and visitors.

Notable Buildings and Landmarks

Several notable buildings and landmarks reside within the Lake Morton neighborhood, each contributing to its historic appeal. The Lakeland Public Library, established in 1927, is one such landmark known for its contemporary architectural style and rich history.

Another prominent landmark in South Florida is the Florida Southern College, renowned for its campus that showcases a series of buildings designed by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Polk Museum of Art, which offers complimentary admission on certain days, is also a significant attraction in the area.

These landmarks augment the neighborhood’s character, preventing community deterioration and transforming it into a must-visit destination for admirers of history and architecture.

Recreational Activities and Events at Lake Morton

Historic architecture in the Lake Morton neighborhood with a view of the beautiful lake

Lake Morton presents a myriad of recreational activities and events to entertain both residents and visitors. Some of the activities you can enjoy at the lake include:

  • Golfing

  • Biking

  • Kayaking

  • Swimming

  • Fishing

The lake is a hub of outdoor fun and adventure.

The lake also hosts several annual events, such as the BBQ Festival, Mayfaire by-the-Lake, and the Swan Roundup. These events enhance the lively community spirit of Lake Morton, drawing crowds from across the country.

Active Lifestyle Opportunities

Lake Morton offers a wealth of opportunities for those who embrace an active lifestyle. Some of the activities available include:

  • The Lake Morton Walking and Running Trail

  • The Lake Morton Jogging and Cycling Route

  • Complimentary Saturday group runs

  • The yearly Lake to Lake 10K race, which provides a picturesque route around the Lakeland chain of lakes and historic Lake Morton.

Apart from this, there are boating and fishing opportunities, with facilities including a gravel boat launch and year-round lake access. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or a beginner angler, Lake Morton promises a memorable outdoor experience.

Family-Friendly Attractions

Lake Morton isn’t solely about natural beauty and recreational activities; it also boasts family-friendly attractions. The Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market is a popular spot where families can buy fresh produce and locally crafted goods while engaging with the local community.

The market is open every Saturday, making it a perfect weekend family outing. Offering a diverse range of goods and an enriching experience, the market is an essential stop for families visiting Lake Morton.

Dining and Shopping Around Lake Morton

Whether you’re a gastronome or a shopaholic, Lake Morton caters to your needs. The lake is conveniently located near a variety of dining and shopping options, with Downtown Lakeland and Winter Haven offering a wide range of cuisines and unique retail choices.

From top-rated restaurants like Garden Bistro, Palace Pizza, and Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille to unique shopping experiences at Gaines Jewelers and Home Essentials, there’s something for everyone. So, whether you’re yearning for delectable food or seek retail therapy, Lake Morton provides it all.

Downtown Lakeland Gems

Cyclists and joggers enjoying the scenic routes around Lake Morton

Situated near Lake Morton, Downtown Lakeland is a cornucopia of dining, shopping, and entertainment delights. It is home to popular restaurants like Red Door Wine Market, Mister Fish, and Patio 850, each offering unique culinary experiences.

Shopping enthusiasts will be delighted with the variety of shops in Downtown Lakeland. From the Wildwood Antique Mall of Lakeland to Low Country Vintage and Bungalow Boutique and Gifts, there’s a shop for every taste and preference.

And when the sun goes down, Downtown Lakeland comes alive with various entertainment options at venues like The Smith Family Ranch, Lake Mirror Auditorium, and The Pink Piano.

Proximity to Winter Haven

A short drive from Lake Morton, Winter Haven extends the shopping and dining options for visitors and residents. Winter Haven is known for its well-regarded dining options such as:

  • Cob & Pen

  • Nineteen 61

  • The Back Nine - Downtown

  • Black & Brew

When it comes to shopping, Winter Haven has several prominent retail centers and districts. From Eagle Ridge Mall to Heartlake Shopping Mall and Colonial Promenade, shoppers are spoilt for choice. And if you’re looking for some local festivities, Winter Haven hosts several special events and festivals that attract visitors from Lake Morton.

Real Estate in Lake Morton's Historic Districts

The real estate market in Lake Morton’s historic districts reflects the neighborhood’s unique allure and rich history. With a range of architectural styles from the early 20th century, including:

  • Mediterranean Revival

  • Craftsman bungalow

  • Federal Colonial Revival

  • English Arts and Crafts Tudor style

The homes in the area are rich in architectural integrity and historical elements.

These historic districts are not just about beautiful homes; they also have a strong sense of community. Residents take pride in their neighborhood’s history and work together to preserve its architectural heritage, adding to the appeal of living in Lake Morton.

Architectural Styles and Preservation

Homes in the Lake Morton historic districts represent a wealth of architectural styles and historical elements. Some of these styles include:

  • Queen Anne

  • Prairie

  • Usonian

  • Ranch

  • Bungalow

  • Mediterranean

Each home showcases the architectural trends of the Florida Boom era, including the federal colonial revival style, and classical elements from Greek and Roman architecture.

Preserving the architectural integrity of these historic homes is a community effort, overseen by the City of Lakeland’s Community & Economic Development Department. Through design guidelines specifically created for historic properties, the preservation of the architectural heritage of Lake Morton is ensured.

Sense of Community

Residing in the Lake Morton neighborhood goes beyond owning a beautiful home; it’s about integrating into a tight-knit community. The Lake Morton Neighborhood Association plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of community and pride among Lake Morton residents, organizing events such as the Annual Historic Home & Garden Tour.

This self-guided walking tour highlights the historic homes and gardens in the south and east Lake Morton historic district, promoting community involvement and supporting local projects. Such events reflect the area’s strong sense of community and shared pride in its historic character.

Environmental Concerns and Efforts

While Lake Morton is greatly valued for its natural beauty and historic allure, it also serves as a center for environmental concerns and conservation initiatives. The lake is classified as an impaired waterbody by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection due to bacterial contamination, and efforts are underway to address these issues.

Monitoring the lake’s water quality and clarity is crucial for maintaining its ecological balance. The Trophic State Index (TSI) is used to assess the biological productivity of the lake, considering nitrogen and phosphorus levels, essential nutrients for plant growth, and chlorophyll as an indicator of algae abundance.

Water Quality and Clarity

The preservation of Lake Morton’s water quality and clarity is a pressing concern. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection uses prescribed analytical protocols to classify and monitor impaired waterbodies like Lake Morton. The lake’s impairment primarily stems from mercury contamination, greatly affecting water quality and ecosystem health.

Maintaining a healthy level of dissolved oxygen in the lake is essential for the survival of fish and other aquatic organisms. Meanwhile, the Trophic State Index is used to monitor the lake’s biological productivity, which is influenced by the presence of nutrients and the color of the water.

Conservation Initiatives

The Historic Lake Morton Neighborhood Association and The Conservation Foundation are leading conservation efforts at Lake Morton. These efforts include projects focused on restoring the shoreline and improving water quality.

The conservation initiatives have significantly contributed to the improvement of water quality at Lake Morton. For instance, there has been an 84% reduction in Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and a 39% reduction in Total Phosphorus in Meadow Lake, marking a significant environmental achievement.

Summary

In conclusion, Lake Morton is a gem in Lakeland, FL, offering a blend of natural beauty, rich history, recreational activities, dining and shopping opportunities, and a vibrant real estate market. Be it the diverse bird species, the historic charm of the neighborhood, the plethora of outdoor activities, or the strong sense of community, Lake Morton has something for everyone. While there are environmental concerns, concerted efforts are in place to protect and conserve this serene getaway. So, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history aficionado, or simply someone seeking a tranquil escape, Lake Morton awaits your exploration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What fish are in Lake Morton?

Lake Morton has stocked Rainbow Trout and resident Largemouth Bass for fishing, with a WDFW access point on the northwest shore for amenities. Happy fishing!

How long is the walk around Lake Hollingsworth Lakeland FL?

The walk around Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida is 3 miles long and offers a scenic view of the lake at every foot of the way. It's definitely worth the effort!

How deep is Lake Mirror in Lakeland FL?

Lake Mirror in Lakeland, FL, is approximately 24 feet deep.

What architectural styles can be found in the Lake Morton neighborhood?

The Lake Morton neighborhood features a blend of architectural styles including Bungalow, Mediterranean, Federal Colonial Revival, and English Arts and Crafts Tudor.

What recreational activities are available at Lake Morton?

At Lake Morton, you can enjoy recreational activities like golfing, biking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing. Enjoy!


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