By Mike Miller Updated July 10, 2022
The Town of Windermere is one of the nicest small towns in Florida. It is located on the secondary roads about 15 miles west-southwest of downtown Orlando on the Butler Chain of Lakes.
These lakes are popular places for waters skiing, boating and fishing. Wndermere is a residential community with a population in 2022 of less than 4,000.
Even though it is a very small town, the greater Windermere area has been steadily growing. Real estate prices are much higher here than most other sections of Orange County.
In the years before the giant freezes of the 1890s and the 1980s, this small town was in the heart of one of the largest citrus regions in the world.
Founded in 1889, Windermere is one of the oldest communities in Orange County.
By 1910, the Windermere Improvement Company had been formed, homes were built and thousands of acres of citrus planted all around the area.
Many of these old homes and buildings have been preserved and add to the charm of this little place nestled among the old oaks and clear lakes of Central Florida.
The quiet neighborhoods of Windermere are located on an isthmus between Lake Down and Lake Butler. The downtown area has a small town feel.
In the early days of the construction of Walt Disney World, the 1960's and 1970's, many Disney executives lived in Windermere, including Don Edgren, Bob Allen and Admiral Joe Fowler.
In more recent years, plush golf course developments like Isleworth, home of Tiger Woods , Shaquille O'Neal and other celebrities, have popped up on the edges of Windermere.
Some of these luxury homes are on one of the many golf courses, and others are on Lake Butler and Lake Down.
Maybe these fancy new places have a Windermere address, but they are far removed from the laid back beautiful homes of what I guess I'll call "old Windermere".
Windermere's location on the isthmus puts it on the shortest path between the east and west sides of the chain of lakes.
Main Street is the route through downtown Windermere with charming tree shaded residential neighborhoods on either side.
The next lake crossing to the south is 7.5 miles away at Lake Buena Vista where Winter Garden Vineland Road (CR-535) and Apopka-Vineland Road intersect. The next lake crossing to the north is at Gotha, 2 miles north.
This has made Windermere a busy little place for traffic, but the town has handled it beautifully with roundabouts and other traffic calming techniques.
They don't mind handing out speeding tickets, either.
An interesting little place to see while you are in town is the Windermere School.
It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located at 113 West Seventh Avenue. Just park your car and walk right up to it.
Windermere is a pleasant and peaceful place to spend a day; you won't feel like speeding through this pretty little town.
Although the main drag is paved, most of the residential streets are not.
The Windermere residents want it that way and have resisted many times the efforts of some to lay down asphalt.
Very few tourists venture off the paved road into the unknown of the dirt trails that lead off through the tree canopies to who knows where.
Most folks do not want to take the road less traveled.
Windermere folks seem to know that and treasure and protect their solitude.
You can stop and buy some wine at Tim's Wine Market and have breakfast or lunch next door at the Dixie Cream Cafe.
There is also a nice coffee shop on Main Street that also serves good ice cream. It is popular with local residents and visitors.
You can also take a short drive down the road to Gotha for lunch at one of the neatest restaurants in the area, Yellow Dog Eats Cafe.
1236 Hempel Avenue
Yellow Dog Eats Cafe is owned by a former CIA man named Fish Morgan.
That's CIA as in Culinary Institute of America. This quaint restaurant has an Orlando address but is really in Gotha, a small village west of Orlando near Windermere.
When I lived in Orlando many years ago a trip to Gotha was often on the Sunday ride agenda.
There were no restaurants back then, only the large century old ramshackle Gotha Country Store where you could get a beef jerky, Twinkie, or saran wrapped sandwich.
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