Winter Haven, Florida, certainly lives up to its name. With an average temperature of 62 degrees, this city is a haven during any season but certainly during the winter, when much of the country is shrouded in snow and ice. Winter Haven is also conveniently located within an hour of Orlando and Tampa, which are both home to major tourist attractions. Winter Haven's 33,000 residents can enjoy a plethora of nearby art, culture, and entertainment activities. Visitors to Winter Haven can take advantage of the lower cost of accommodations and make Winter Haven a home base for travels in the area.
Winter Haven, like many parts of the country, has been afflicted by rapidly rising unemployment and job losses. Winter Haven's unemployment rate soared from 7.3 percent in July 2008 to 8.7 percent in December 2008; although job loss was spread throughout every sector, construction and manufacturing were hit hardest.
Despite the slowing economy, Winter Haven did make some strides, including the construction of a $40 million addition to Winter Haven Hospital, the opening of a new airport terminal, and the opening of the Inland Fiber and Data Technology Park. The city is also slated to be the home of a new intermodal rail terminal built by CSX Transportation.
Winter Haven's major employers include:
Winter Haven is a small city, but it has several ethnically diverse neighborhoods, including:
Winter Haven boasts plenty of independent shops that carry a variety of merchandise. There are also a few shopping centers, including Spring Lake Square, Winter Haven Citi Centre and Winter Haven Mall.
Winter Haven is known as the "Chain of Lakes City" because of 16 interconnected lakes in the area. The lakes are connected by navigable channels, a feature that makes the area immensely popular with boating and fishing enthusiasts. The largest of these lakes is Lake Eloise, which covers 1,160 acres. Along the lakes are public boat ramps, beaches, fishing areas, picnic areas, and recreational facilities. Some lakes in the area double as Winter Haven city parks, most notably the 18-acre Lake Shipp Park, which boasts a boat ramp and picnic tables as well as park structures. Water skiing is also popular in this area, including barefoot water skiing. Lessons are offered by some area enterprises.
Cyclists and pedestrians in Winter Haven enjoy the Chain of Lakes Trail, a 3.2-mile trail that winds through the city from north to south. The area also abounds with other outdoor sporting opportunities, including facilities for golf, tennis, baseball, basketball, football, horseshoes, swimming, shuffleboard, and running tracks.
Winter Haven's popular attractions include:
Winter Haven offers plenty of entertainment and cultural events: