Dixieland Historic Community: A Darling Near Downtown Lakeland
You’re cruising down South Florida Avenue from the downtown area, you see the Southside Cleaners sign from afar and you laugh outrageously to yourself.
At one time it read: “Experience. You get it whether you want it or not.” Passing this sign means you’ve entered Dixieland, the one of the most nostalgic neighborhoods in all of Lakeland. It is easy to feel as if you have been transported back in time with Dixieland’s nostalgic charm. If you want to live in a place that looks like it could be the backdrop for a Norman Rockwell painting, then Dixieland is your neighborhood.
Dixieland is bordered on the east side of Lake Hunter, runs along Walnut Street and is bordered to the south near Dobbins Park. Dixieland is the smorgasbord of everything you love about Lakeland. You have old timey staples like Swift’s Shoe Repair, which has been around for more than 65 years, repairing everything from thrift finds to designer Cole Haans. You pass proud parents leaving Bomar Trophy Shop with the gold-plated reminder of the season in their hands. You observe the local biking group peddling in the neighboring parking lot, getting ready for their afternoon bike ride that meets weekly at Bent’s Cycling & Fitness. You see a husband leaving Petals, the Flower Shoppe Etc. with a wild bouquet of blue hydrangeas and white lilies. You watch a few college girls head into Hattie’s Branches to pick up the latest batch of Judith March dresses just in time for game day.
A Great Place to Raise Children
For the family-oriented homebuyer, Dixieland is the spot to raise a family. Dixieland Elementary was named a 2013 Exceeding Expectations Award School and has an “A” rating. Within walking distance of the school lies Dobbins Park. The park has three covered areas with picnic tables and grills; a half-mile paved walking path, two playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and a large playing field.
For the outdoorsy homebuyer, Dixieland is perfectly situated between Lake Hunter and Lake Hollingsworth. Any day of the week, you can see the Florida Southern ski team practicing in Hollingsworth alongside local fishermen in pontoon boats. The lake is surrounded by a paved walking path that is 2.7 miles long. There is also a bike lane designated along the lake. The Lakeland Runners Club hosts several races here a year and also has weekly runs that run up and down the hills of Dixieland. There is also a Lake-to-Lake bike path, which helped Lakeland earn the Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community.
Food, Family, Friends
For homebuyers who also are foodies, Dixieland is a treasure trove of goodies. Subs ‘n Such is the spot for the best submarine sandwiches and generous salads in all of Lakeland, not to mention they’ve been in business more than 35 years.
Nineteen61 specializes in latin-american food. The venue is small and casually elegant, with a charming outdoor dining area under a pergola strung with twinkling lights and surrounded by lush landscaping. A Tampa food critic said after leaving “Nineteen61 left me starry-eyed”.
Patio 850 is a favorite adult haunt for the people of Dixieland. The outdoor seating underneath strings of lights creates an ambiance of relaxation and fun. They feature local bands on the weekends, offering a free show for those who choose to sit on the patio. The menu ranges from artisan pizzas and fresh fish plated decoratively, to cheese and fruit plates to complement the wines and craft beers they offer.
For something more traditional, Reececliff Family Diner is the place. Step inside the Dixieland landmark, open for more than 80 years, and you instantly feel at home. From the smell of fresh coffee being made, the southern breakfast with all the fixings, and some of the most delectable pies in the South. Dixieland has enough to keep even the most adventurous foodie stuffed.
Think About Thrifting
For thrifters and antiques lovers, Dixieland is the epicenter of all that can and will be refurbished in Lakeland. Dixieland Relics has everything from old theatre seats to terrariums in their retro, repurposed shop. 360° Unlimited is easy to locate on South Florida Avenue, due to the vintage VW parked in the front windows. In the shop, you will find anything from thigh-high platform shoes, a faux mink coat, to an Otis Redding record in great condition. There is also Mad Hatter Antiques, Junk Prince, Newtro Designs, and What’s New Consignment all located within the Dixieland area.
The Epicenter of Events
If you’re looking for things to do in the Dixieland area, events are in high supply. It has an annual Spring Arts Festival and Last Friday events. The Last Friday events allow community members and local eateries and shops to engage and celebrate the Dixieland area with specials and extended hours. Since it’s community is near downtown Lakeland, you are also conveniently located for First Friday events, monthly Food Truck Rallies, and all the events that happen at Munn Park and Lake Mirror throughout the year.
History of Dixieland
Now that you know why you should live in community, a little backstory as to how the area came to be: the Dixieland neighborhood was deemed a historic site in 1994 after a historic site survey determined that the bungalow styled houses in the area were more than 50 years old. Historically speaking, the Dixieland district began as a 160-acre purchase between Lake Morton and Lake Hollingsworth in 1907 by two local real estate developers. The developers, Henry B. Carter and C.W. Deen, originally listed the community of Dixieland as “Lakeland’s ‘fashionable suburb.’” This neighborhood has seen substantial growth over the decades as the area has grown into a mix of residential and commercial properties. Most of the homes in Dixieland are modeled in the bungalow style that was predominant during the housing boom from the 1920s-1940s. Along with the bungalows, there are some Mediterranean and Colonial inspired houses sprinkled throughout Dixieland.
I encourage you to check out this short video of Lakeland Florida Historic District – Dixieland below: