What’s the best place to park? When’s the best time to visit to avoid the crowds? How can you still watch concerts for free? How can you get in without paying admission? What’s the best thing to eat? As a guy who’s done that drive through horrible I-4 traffic countless times to Plant City, let me help. I’ve learned a lot over the years.

  • Tip #1: Check the concert calendar

    If there’s a sold out concert, that means thousands of extra cars in those parking lots and bodies creating long lines for rides and food.

  • Tip #2: Get there early

    Afternoon rush hour traffic combined with Florida Strawberry Festival congestion is a nightmare this time of year on I-4. The earlier you get to Plant City, the better.

  • Tip #3: Buy tickets in advance

    Lines always form at the ticket booth. Instead, grab tickets in advance if you’re at Publix. You’ll save a few bucks too.

  • Tip #4: Get in free!

    There are days when kids get in free. There are days when military and first responders get in free. Check the Strawberry Festival website to see when you might be able to avoid paying admission.

  • Tip #5: Wait a few days

    Opening weekend and closing weekends are when you’ll see the biggest crowds. If you can plan your visit midweek in the early afternoon, you’ll have plenty of space and short lines to wait in.

  • Tip #6: Make an eating plan

    I’m not joking. You’re going to be overwhelmed. Many go to the festival every year just for the fair foods. Instead of buying the first thing you see, check out what’s new this year… or my top 10 picks. You’ll run out of room fast if you fill up on boring stuff like cotton candy and hot dogs. You can get those anywhere… the Florida Strawberry Festival is known for creative wild stuff.  Definitely seek out the Amish doughnuts, Smitty’s corndog and Carnival Eats legend Mama Jane’s creations you’ve seen on The Cooking Channel.  Who has the best strawberry shortcake? I say ask for directions to the St. Clement’s make your own tent!

  • Tip #7: Your cell phone is your friend

    Use apps on your phone like Waze or Google Maps to see how the back roads are doing for traffic. When I-4 is backed up, you can often avoid the congestion by taking the back roads into Plant City.

  • Tip #8: Go in the morning

    The food will be fresher, everyone will be a little perkier since they just woke up and the lines will be short. The festival opens daily at 10am, but few get there until late in the afternoon.

  • Tip #9: Yes there ARE free concerts

    You used to be able to get in free to the big headliner shows, but it’s 2023. This is how bands pay the bills now. All seats in the new concert venue require a separate ticket. But there are free local acts performing around the festival. And they’d love your support so one day they can play the big stage.

  • Tip #10: Parking options

    There are 3 major lots on Ritter Street, off highway 92 and 574. Don’t worry if you’re not close to the action. There is a tram that’ll take you to the gates. You can also find spots at Bryan Elementary School and Tomlin Middle School.

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