Quality of Life
The serene Peace River flows through Hardee County and is a prime asset for fossil hunting, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. There are approximately 10 boat ramps inside the county.
Hardee County takes advantage of any reason to celebrate! Various community events fill the calendar giving reason for residents and visitors to get together. Below are some of the many events that take place in Hardee County!
Pioneer Park Days- Pioneer Park Days is one of the largest, and is the oldest antique tractor, steam engine and farm equipment shows in the southeast. Some of the highlights include over 400 exhibits of tractors, hit and miss steam engines and farm equipment.
The noted Florida Frontiersmen will be conducting daily demonstrations on Pioneer living at its best. Activities will include dutch oven cooking, wood burning, basket weaving, pioneer toys, how to make and play a native American flute, wood burning, and other 1800’s era activities.
In the flea market area there are 491 flea market booths that sell items from old tools to arts and crafts. A vintage market has also been added for the chabby chic lovers.
There are some great deals to be had.
County Fair- The week of the County Fair is filled with livestock shows, beauty pageants, arts & crafts competitions, rodeos, and a thrilling midway. The County Fair is a tradition that spans over 70 years and continues to be a favorite for every family member!
Hometown Heroes- Every year Main Street Wauchula takes time to thank our small town heroes who risk their lives on a daily basis to ensure safety and freedom to our community. Firefighters, police officers, sheriff deputies, volunteers, line men, fire rescue, nurses, correctional officers, emergency management, highway patrol and many others station themselves in the streets of downtown to give a closer look at their duties. As residents and visitors join Main Street Wauchula in celebrating and thanking those who sacrifice the most!
Christmas Time- The park is lit with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights, arts and crafts vendors line the street and stores are open late. You will want to join Santa at the Heritage Park located in historic downtown Wauchula. The Chamber of Commerce has a different themed parade every year along Main Street. The Town of Zolfo Springs and the City of Bowling Green also put on events for the family to enjoy.
Historical Ghost Tour- Ghosts from days past come back each year to tell the stories of historical buildings that proudly stand as testaments. Story tellers proudly relay the legends of the historical landmarks that grace Main Street Wauchula. Guests enjoy a trolley ride from each location guided by a multi-generational Hardee Countian. This sells out every year so be sure and purchase tickets when they become available.
Back to School Tailgate- Don't dread the approach of August because with the start of school is the biggest and greatest tailgate this side of the Wildcat stadium! Go ahead and mark your calendars because you haven't seen orange and blue until you attend Main Street Wauchula's Back to School Tailgate Party!
Parades- Parades are a fun way for clubs and businesses to show case their creativity and spirit. The county gathers in the downtown to admire all the entries and get in the spirit before a big football game or even Santa’s arrival!
Fall Festival- The crisp October air sparks in excitement as the county gathers at the annual Fall Festival held in the historic downtown Wauchula. Pumpkins and scarecrows are scattered in Heritage Park and game booths line Main Street. The county wide fall festival includes a costume contest, live entertainment and lots of candy!
Historic Train Depot- The Historic Train Depot serves as a welcoming center for visitors. The depot is also the house of an art gallery, class room and a small store that sells locally made products. If you are looking for space to hold a special event, be sure and check out the beautiful Train Depot.
Museums- Cracker Trail Museum and Pioneer Village- The museum has collected over 4,000 items related to pioneer-era Florida history. Pioneer Village is located adjacent to the museum. The village includes and 1914 Baldwin Locomotive Engine #3, an 1897 Blacksmith Shop, and a cabin built in 1879.
Organizations & Clubs- There are many community organizations and clubs with various focus and philanthropic goals. Local organizations and clubs offer more than networking opportunities for its members, they also offer community outreach and volunteerism.
- Hardee Lakes- Hardee Lakes Park is approximately 1200 acres. It contains 4 lakes. Lake 1 is 120 acres, Lake 2 is 110 acres, Lake 3 is 97 acres, and Lake 4 is 47 acres. The park has horse trails, a hiking trail, a Handicap-accessible hiking trail, a bike trail, picnic areas, a picnic pavilion, a playground, and a boardwalk that winds through the woods with an observation tower where people can watch wildlife. There are 3 restrooms located throughout the park and the restroom at the camping area has shower facilities. Fishing is allowed in all the lakes. The fisheries are controlled by the Florida Game and Fish commission.
- Pioneer Park- Is a prime location for camping with extensive hiking trails, a picnic area, pavilions, animal refuge and a pioneer museum.
- Paynes Creek- Paynes Creek State Park stands in testament to a trading post that was attacked and destroyed by renegade Indians in the summer of 1849. Today, nature enthusiasts and hikers can enjoy walking along trails through the park´s natural areas. Paynes Creek and the adjoining Peace River provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. A museum at the visitor center depicts the lives of Florida´s Seminole Indians and pioneers during the 19th century.
- Peace River Park- Located on the beautiful Peace River this park features picnic area and tables, primitive camping area, walking trails, and a boat/canoe ramp.
- Seminole Park- This park’s playground equipment is an oasis of fun for children!
- Main Street Heritage Park- This beautiful park is the central location in downtown Wauchula. The band stand and fountain make it a favorite site for community events.
- Green Street Park- The playground equipment and picnic area and tables make this park and ideal location for a Saturday getaway.
- Crews- A perfect location to put in your boat after utilizing the playground equipment and picnic area. This park located on the Peace River has something for everyone!
- Peace River- The Peace River offers many activities for outdoors-men and women!
- Dance Studios- Hardee County has dance studios that offer various classes to youth.
- Golf Courses- The Bluffs Golf Course offers unique challenges and experiences.
- Gyms- Advent Health has a gym that is open to the public located in the downtown, walking distance from Wauchula Elementary School. They offer a fitness center and group classes for the entire family. Anytime Fitness another gym located in Hardee County.
- Girl’s Fast pitch Softball- The Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton Jr. Complex has served the Hardee County Youth Sports Dixie Youth Softball Program since 2006. The season begins in March and ends in July at the conclusion of All-Stars. Since serving as the host of the Hat City Youth Sports (HCYS) Fast pitch Softball program, participation has doubled from 85 girls in 2006 to over 170 in 2008. Girls that participate in the program range in age from 7 to 15 years old. Since the softball program began using the complex, HCYS Dixie Softball has won 8 District championships, two runner-ups and are the 2008 Dixie Darlings State Runner Up. In 2006, the complex hosted the District 5 Angels All Star Tournament. During the season, the Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton Jr. Complex serves as a practice facility for the HCYS Dixie Darlings program and the HCYS Dixie Boys. Year round the Southern Shockers 14u and 12u girls’ fast pitch softball travel teams use it for practice as well. These two teams are made up of players from around Central Florida. The Southern Shockers 14u won the Independent Sports Association (ISA) State Championship in 2008.
- Men’s Softball- The Men’s Slow-pitch softball season begins in June and ends in August. Hardee County holds two championship titles in the Men’s Slow-pitch softball division: in 1995, the “Golden Corral” team won the ISA Men’s Slow-pitch National Championship, and “Bill’s Muffler Shop” won the ISA Men’s Slow-pitch State Championship in 1997. Today there are typically 12 teams with an 18 man roster that participate in this program in Hardee County who play an average of 88 games per season. In addition, approximately 6 tournaments played by 8 teams with 15 man rosters are held each year. The complex serves approximately 11,000 visitors and participants annually through the Men’s Softball Program.
- Men’s Church League Softball- The Men’s Church Softball League begins in March and ends in May. The program usually consists of 9 teams with 18 man rosters and plays a total of 42 games per season.
- Approximately 5,000 visitors and participants are served by the complex annually through the Men’s Church League Softball Program.
- Women’s Church League Softball- The Women’s Church Softball League begins in May and ends in July. The program normally consists of 6 teams with 18 woman rosters and plays a total of 42 games per season. The facility serves approximately 6,500 visitors and participants annually through this program.
- Co-Ed Softball- The Co-Ed Slow Pitch Softball League begins in September and ends in November. The program will usually average 6 teams with 18 person rosters and play a total of 42 games per season. Approximately 6,000 visitors and participants are served by the facility annually through this program.
- Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity Fast pitch Softball-The Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity Fastpitch Softball Program begins in January and ends in April. Each team consists of a roster of 15 girls and each team hosts about 16 games per season. The facility serves approximately 9,000 visitors and participants annually through the High School Fast pitch Softball Program.
- Junior High Girls Fast pitch Softball-The Girls Junior High Fast pitch Softball Program runs August through October. The roster is made up of 15 girls who play a total of 12 games per season.
- The complex serves approximately 2,500 visitors and participants annually through the High School Fast pitch Softball Program.
- Varsity and Junior Varsity Swim Team-The Hardee High School swim team’s season begins in August and ends in November. The team consists of approximately 40 members and there are usually 6 meets held each season. Approximately 7,000 visitors and participants annually are served by the facility through the High School Swim Team Program.
- Summer Swim Team- The summer swim team program which begins in June and ends in August, is usually made up of about 40 members and hosts approximately (4) five team events annually.
- The facility serves approximately 6,500 visitors and participants annually through the Summer Swim Team Program.
- Pool Program- The Hardee County summer pool program begins in June and ends in August. Daily Admission is $3.00 for open swim from 1:00 – 4:00, 7 days per week. There is an average of 60 children per day that participate in this activity. Discount cards are available. Call 773-3173 for more information.
- Pool rental for a 2 hour party is $200.00 plus the cost of lifeguards and supervision.
- Swim Lessons Program- Swim lessons for a 2 week session are $50.00 per child. This is a 6 week program that begins in June and ends in July. An average of 200 children participate in this program annually. For more information call the
- Hardee County Adult Education Office at (863) 773-3173.
- Racquetball-Racquetball is available to the public from 3:15pm to sundown 7 days per week.
- High School Soccer- The Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton Jr. Complex serves as a practice facility for High School Varsity Boys and Girls Soccer.
- Approximately 5,500 participants and visitors and participants are served by the facility annually through the High School Soccer Program.
- High School Cross Country-The facility serves as a practice facility for the Boys and Girls Varsity Cross Country teams. Approximately 5,500 participants and visitors annually are served through the High School Cross County program.
Salons- Hardee County has multiple salons specializing in hair, massage therapy, and sunless tanning.
Shopping & Dining- Hardee County is blessed with many small businesses, especially in retail and restaurant. Our locally owned establishments have everything you need. You can find these treasures all over the county, each unique and special in its own way!
- Center for Great Apes- The Center for Great Apes’ mission is to provide a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or who are no longer wanted as pets. The Center provides cares with dignity in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment for great apes in need of lifetime are.
- Hardee Wildlife Refuge- The wildlife refuge is a sanctuary for non-releasable animals. Guests move about freely on the elevated boardwalk to see Florida wild animals in a natural habitat. When visiting the refuge you will have the chance to see a Florida panther, black bear, alligators, otters, foxes and much more!