With its lively downtown scene, Winter Park, a city northeast of Orlando, has preserved some of its historic flavor.
Begin your walking tour at one of the free or pay public parking lots off Park Avenue, the main street through town. Along both sides of the street are stores and boutiques that offer everything from kitchen appliances to clothing to spices and teas. Interspersed among these shops are restaurants to suit every taste. And just off the main trail there are courtyards you can detour into and explore.
If you head south on Park Avenue, you will end up at Rollins College, a private, liberal arts school. It was started in 1885 by the Congregational Assembly of Florida as the state’s first 4-year college. Within the campus you will find the Cornell Fine Arts Museum that contains “more than 5,500 objects from antiquity to the contemporary” including “over 500 paintings, from the 14th through the 20th centuries, and over 1600 works on paper (prints, drawings, and photographs), as well objects, artifacts, and archaeological fragments from world cultures.” The museum is free and open to the public. It is closed Mondays, but open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Heading back northward on Park Avenue you will pass by Central Park and a commuter train station. If you continue a short distance past the park, you will find the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art at 445 North Park Avenue, its third location in 75 years. The current building contains over 19,000 square feet and is home to “the most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere, a major collection of American art pottery, and fine collections of late-19th- and early-20th-century American paintings, graphics and the decorative arts.” A nominal admission fee is charged. Hours are:
9:30 a.m. –4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (Open until 8:00 p.m. Friday, November through April)
1:00 pm –4:00 p.m. Sunday
Closed Monday and most major holidays.
If you visit Winter Park on a Saturday morning, be sure to stroll through the downtown farmers' market by the old train depot, located at 200 West New England Avenue. There you will find plants and cut flowers for sale, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and crafted items. Dogs are permitted in the outdoor portion of the market, but not inside the depot building. The market is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
An alternative to a walking tour is a narrated boat tour of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Pontoon boats depart hourly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily (except on Christmas) from 312 East Morse Blvd. Phone (407)644-4056 for information.