New in Town

The most popular topic on Lakeland social media is overwhelmingly about how to meet new people in Lakeland.

Is making friends harder today than it was for previous generations because we are preoccupied by our computers, Internet, social media and cell phones? “People sticking to themselves may be a result of social media… ; however, it can be used to your advantage when making friends,” said Natalie Douge, licensed mental health counselor at in Lakeland. “We often suggest joining, where you can search for clubs and events based on your interests, or Bumble BFF, that allows you to meet other people in your area looking to make friends.”

With so many new people moving to Lakeland, groups and pages have formed on Facebook and Reddit, too. Many neighborhoods in Lakeland have Facebook groups and Nextdoor pages as well as official Neighborhood Association Coalitions. Get started by finding your neighborhood here.

So how do we break the ice?

“Simply being available to say hello to your neighbors by walking your dogs, riding your bike or hanging in your front yard allows for positive interactions with your neighbors who are doing the same thing,” Douge  said.

“This is a journey, not a destination. It’s not abnormal for it to take long periods of time to find friends in a new place,” Douge said.

Knowing all this, below is a guide to give you a head-start in finding your flock.

Local Clubs and Meet-ups

Civic clubs: Elks, Rotary and Kiwanis club members are extremely friendly. Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs are so popular here that there are three chapters for each: Lakeland Rotary ClubLakeland South Rotary, and the Lakeland Sunrise Rotary Club. Kiwanians can be found at meetings of the Kiwanis Club of Lakeland, the Citrus Center Kiwanis Club and the North Lakeland Kiwanis

Book clubs: If you’re a book lover, discover our fantastic library system – and other book lovers! Or join a book club: In addition to books, consider clubs for other hobbies, such as knitting, motorcycling, gardening or Dungeons & Dragons. Lakeland’s Colliseum of Comics hosts several D&D and game nights.

Exercise: You’ll be surprised at the bonding that goes on while lifting weights at 6 in the morning. Even more so at group exercise classes and weekly walking and running groups. Try these: Mall Walkers at Lakeland Square Mall, swimming classes at city-run pools, belly dancing classes at the Kelly Rec Center, weekly community runs with the Lakeland Runners Clubadult soccer games or the annual FitChurch Challenge or find a personal trainer at one of the YMCA of West Central Florida’s locations which also offers childcare services. 

Churches and houses of worship: Worship services are a great place to connect with others, but they often provide much more than weekly services. They can be an important outlet for personal growth, support and activity. Lakeland has small churches to megachurches of most major Christian denominations. It also is home to two Jewish congregations, a mosque, and a Hindu temple. 

Women’s Clubs: United Women’s Club of Lakeland, GFWC Junior Women’s Club of Lakeland, both the Democratic Party and Republic Party have active Women’s Clubs in Lakeland. The Junior League of Greater Lakeland has a long tradition of supporting women and children in our community.

Parent groups: Lakeland Mom published a helpful article on the topic of finding like-minded moms and dads, providing a list of suggestions on where to meet other moms in Lakeland. Pressed LKLD offers a weekly storytime for young children as do many local libraries.

Young professionals: Being a young professional is challenging, as you don’t have an established network of colleagues and often are new to the community. Find your footing through Emerge Lakeland

Celebrate your culture: Share a little bit of your heritage and yourself with organizations like Club Hispano de Lakeland, B’nai B’rith of Lakeland, the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and Greek Festival in nearby Winter Haven.

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