Lakewood Ranch is located within the Manatee County region in Florida. The area was the likely landing site for the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto along with his crew of conquistadors in 1539. Other explorers like Josiah Gates landed on the area as well, but it was later unofficially founded in 1855. Manatee County stretches almost 900 sq mi (2,300 km2) including waterways, which provided an exceptional source of transportation. Railroads, bridges, and roadways were eventually added for an easier access in and out of the area.
Along with transportation development came a rapid growth in population during the early 1920s. Others saw the area as a vacation destination and retirement place. Also, with the warm southern climate as an asset, baseball became a popular sport there, along with spring training camps and professional teams would travel down there. A few years later, after the Great Depression in the 1930s and World War II, other industries expanded, such as agriculture and fishing. Other developments in the industries were retail, education, and tourism. The first neighborhood development, Summerfield, went up in 1995. As the area expanded over the years, along with the population, a master-planned community was created called Lakewood Ranch.