Winter Park, Florida is an upscale town of about 30,000 people in
the heart of Orlando's urban area.
It's sometimes hard to believe such a
quiet place exists so near to the bustle of Walt Disney World and
The town is often overlooked as a central Florida tourism attraction, but is definitely worth a visit or an extended stay.
It's Park Avenue shopping district is a wonderful place to spend a day or a week.
I lived in Winter Park on two separate occasions. It is a
relaxing place to live. If you live close to downtown, everything you
need is within walking distance.
Shops and restaurants line the brick paved Park Avenue. As the
name implies, there is a large grassy tree shaded park along the west
side of the avenue.
Flowers and ferns are cultivated and hanging from balconies all
along the avenue. Many of the restaurants have sidewalk dining, and the
whole Park Avenue stretch is a people watcher's paradise.
Even the Amtrak station is right downtown across the park on Park
Avenue. My son used to take the train down from Georgia and walk to my
house to visit me.
Several museums are within walking distance of Park Avenue.
History of Winter Park Florida
David Mizelle bought 8 acres of land in 1858 between the present
Lakes Mizelle, Berry and Virginia. He founded the little town of Lake
View on his land. In 1879 the name was changed to Osceola.
In 1881 Loring A. Chase of Chicago visited the place, loved the
area and bought 600 acres along Lake Maitland and Lake Osceola. He and a
partner, O.E. Chapman, platted the town and named it Winter Park.
Winter Park began to develop in the 1880s as a citrus-growing
center. It became a wintering retreat for wealthy Northerners, including
Colonel Franklin Fairbanks and his partner, Charles Hosmer Morse.
They visited the area on one of their Florida vacations and fell in love with the place.
They were partners in various business including what is now the
Fairbanks Morse Company, manufacturers of engines and pumps.
Fairbanks Avenue and Morse Boulevard in Winter Park are named for
these gentlemen who contributed much to the development of Winter Park
in the early days.
In 1885, the Congregational Church established Florida’s first
institute of higher learning, Rollins College. The college's campus sits
on the shore of Lake Virginia.
Rollins is considered by most folks to be one of the best Florida colleges.
Anthony Perkins was a student at Rollins before hitting it big as
Norman Bates in Hitchcock's 1960 classic, "Psycho". Another Rollins
graduate, Donald Cram, won a 1987 Nobel Prize for chemistry. Author Rex Beach, who wrote "The Spoilers" and other classics, went to Rollins and his grave is on campus.
The architecture of Rollins College inspires visions of Florida's
Spanish heritage. The campus is a pleasant place to take a walk.
The scenic boat tour at the eastern end of Morse Boulevard takes
passengers on tours through the narrow canals between Lakes Virginia and
Osceola. They have been at this location since 1938.
The tour highlights nature and local birds, but another
outstanding feature of the tours are the opulent mansions, old and new,
that line the lakes.
Park Plaza Hotel. This is the only hotel
right downtown, and is a treat to stay in. Sit on your balcony and watch
the people strolling along the avenue. 307 S Park Ave, Winter Park
Florida. Tel: 407-647-1072
WINTER PARK, FLORIDA ATTRACTIONS
Rollins College. A fine place to take a walk or
get a good college degree. Wonderful old buildings with some great
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.
The museum displays the world’s most comprehensive collection of works
by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The collection includes
stained-glass windows, lamps, jewelry and paintings. 445 North Park
Avenue, Winter Park. Tel: 407-645-5311.
Scenic Boat Tour. This is a don't miss
experience. Pontoon boats with knowledgeable guides take you on a tour
of the Winter Park lakes linked by narrow canals. You will glide
quietly under live oaks draped with Spanish moss, sabal palms, and dense
patches of bamboo stalks and banana trees. The lakefront mansions will
boggle your mind. 312 East Morse Blvd., Winter Park. Tel: 407-644-4056
Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens.
This museum is in the impressive former house of the sculptor. The
house was originally owned by Harry Sinclair of the oil company. It is
on Lake Osceola. The magnificent building and grounds showcase dozens
of classical sculptures by the late Czech-American sculptor. 633 Osceola
Avenue, Winter Park. Tel: 407-647-6294.
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. This annual
sidewalk art festival is one of the best in the country. It takes place
along Park Avenue every year. The festival is held on the third
weekend in March. More than 350,000 people usually flock to this show to
view the work of over 1200 artists.
RECOMMENDED WINTER PARK RESTAURANT
Bosphorous Restaurant is in the heart of the Park Avenue shopping and dining
It serves a variety of Turkish food.
The interior decor is muted and relaxing with walls painted a warm gold and plenty of archways and art objects to give it a Mediterranean feeling.
shares many of the features of other Mediterranean cuisines including
Greek and Lebanese, but with its own distinctive style and flavor. For
example, I had dinner here the other night and my entree was chicken sis
It was marinated grilled chicken served on jasmine rice and a
medley of pickled vegetables including red cabbage and onions. It was
delicious and the portion was very large.
has excellent bread, including lavas, that can be ordered with hummus
and baba ghanoush. The bread comes to the table very warm and puffed up
full of air and smells and tastes excellent. In addition to chicken
dishes, they also have lamb entrees and stuffed grape leaves for
appetizers. Other appetizers include the Shepherd's salad.
include kunefe, which is a baked pastry with sweet cheese inside.
Prices are fairly high in this restaurant, but not exhorbitant,
especially by Park Avenue standards. My chicken sis kabob entree with
no salad, appetizer or dessert came to $34 including tip.
I had no
alcohol, but only a bottle of San Pelligrino sparkling water. Mixed
drinks and single glasses of wine run about $10. I look forward to
visiting Bosphorous again to try some other entrees and maybe even have a
In addition to the beautiful inside dining room, Bosphorous also has a few tables outside on the sidewalk for diners who love to watch people walking by on stylish Park Avenue.
Bosphorous also has a restaurant of the same name in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando.
Our Facebook page has more than 70,000 followers who love off the beaten path Florida: towns, lodging, road maps, festivals, attractions, scenic road trips, day trips, history, and more.
Take a look and if you enjoy what you see, please give us a like.
Florida Back Roads Travel is not affiliated with or endorsed by Backroads, a California-based tour operator which arranges and conducts travel programs throughout the world.
By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2019 Florida-Back-Roads-Travel.com