Bartow Travel Guide

Browse 4 travel reviews, travel blogs and 12 travel photos from real travelers to Bartow.

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Bartow Overview

Bartow is a growing town of about 19,000 (up 20% since 2000) located at the intersection of U.S. Highways 17 and 98, and Florida Highway 60 in Polk County in Central Florida. There was an Indian settlement in the area which is now Bartow when the Spanish came in 1527. Later, a "Black Seminole" group built a town here which was destroyed during the Second Seminole War. When founded in 1851 the town was called Fort Blount but was renamed Bartow after Francis S. Bartow a Florida politician and a Colonel in the Confederate Army. Bartow was killed at the First Battle of Manassas making him the first Confederate Brigade Commander killed in action. Other names for the town, all short lived, were "Peas Creek". "Peace Creek" and "Reidsville". One of the nicknames of the town is "the city of oaks and azaleas". Mining, agriculture, and tourism are mainstays of the local economy. Notable people with ties to Bartow included: Former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Spessard Holland, General James Van Fleet (who commanded forces in the Korean War); Playboy Bunny Jaime Edmondson, and a number of players in the NFL. Bartow is the county seat of Polk County. Polk County was established in 1861, and was named for President Polk, but due to the turmoil of the Civil War was not formally organized, and had no county seat, until 1867. The Polk County Courthouse was completed in 1909 using the Neoclassical style of architecture and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The center of population in Florida is in Polk County near Lake Wales.

Bartow has a very nice historical area with many buildings of historical and/or architectural interest. Bartow has three districts and 8 individual locations listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Bartow has a few different museums including a nice historic museum in the old courthouse.

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