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The Neon Tour of Polk County-A Photo Journey

When I first moved to Lakeland three years ago, I was enthralled with the quantity of old neon signs that were still operational. I promised myself that one day, I'd once again have a high quality camera and would take pictures of these beautiful signs. Each time we spied a new one, my husband and I
would say "There's another one for the Neon Tour."

In late January, I purchased a Nikon D90 and soon started taking those pictures I was itching to get. While there are honestly hundreds of these signs in and around Lakeland and dotted throughout Polk County, I've only scratched the surface in the past few weeks. It's a hobby that I'll have fun pursuing for a very long time.

The first signs I saw caught my eye several years before moving to Lakeland, mainly because the business is one that doesn't often encounter up north anymore. The Silver Moon Drive In features movies on each of their two screens seven nights a week, all year long. The neon drew us there, but my family enjoys many spring and fall Saturday nights enjoying snacks from the concession and the double features, too.

All along Highway 92, where the Silver Moon is located, there are many 1950's era motor lodges. Some nights, you'll cruise down the road and see a dozen with varying amounts of neon lit up. Other times, you may just find one or two. Prestler's is one of the few that is a glowing red beacon to travelers seeking a bed late at night.

Highway 92 is but one of the many places to discover the tubes of inert gas. Downtown Lakeland has many businesses that advertise with these beautiful signs. The first Friday of every month, one can stroll the streets in the twilight, visit various businesses and view classic cars. The old-time feel of the downtown district and these signs almost make you feel like you've stepped back into the mid part of the previous century.

Harry's is a downtown restaurant that many locals rave about. A recent visit made it clear why: the Cajun food can't be beat. It's nice to know that the sign above the front door lures many to enjoy the delicacies within.

Continuing the bayou travels, a local watering hole, Linkster's features the Lousiana favorite, Abita Beer, on tap.

The sign advertising their business is pretty cool, too.

Our final stop on the short tour today is Hurricane Alley.
It's supposedly a dance club, but I've never witnessed this event occurring. The sign's pretty cool.

There are easily another 50 to 100 signs locally that eventually will be photographed on my little tour.

Other towns in Polk County that also have many examples of well-preserved neon are:

  • Auburndale

  • Winter Haven

  • Bartow

  • Polk City

I think I'm slowly progressing towards self hosting!


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