Winter Park Part One - Orlando / Florida Guide
Florida Guide > Days Out
When our family was choosing places to visit before we went to Florida, I found whilst researching that there were many positive reviews for a place named Winter Park in Osceola. Intrigued, I did some further research and discovered that it was a beautiful town, far removed from the rush and hubbub of Disney and Universal Studios. It has been settled since around 1885 when local entrepreneurs realised that it would make an ideal spot for wealthy northerners to vacation during the cold months. In less than a hundred years it became a thriving city with cultural and educational facilities for the residents and a diverse range of shops, set in a most beautiful location.
Winter Park is now a large town of roughly 27, 000 people, but upon travelling into the downtown area you would not guess it. The picturesque streets reminded me a lot of visiting France or Spain- the continental air of the place is enhanced by many potted flowers and trees, whilst across the street a large park stretches away. I was immediately struck by how well kept and beautiful the shop-fronts were and impressed by the many different small boutiques. There was, conceivably, a shop to please everybody!
On our first visit to the town, we happened upon a lovely tea and spices shop, aptly named the Spice and Tea Exchange. As the door opened and a bell clanged, I inhaled beguiling aromas of bergamot, citrus, lavender, vanilla… There was an entire bookshelf dedicated to the shop’s tea blends, mixed on site. On the opposite wall were large plates of Himalayan pink rock salt, which I’m sure would be every foodie’s dream to own. The rock salt plates were designed to be used on an outdoor grill or barbecue. You put the food to be cooked on the plate, set it on a rack directly over the coals, and watch as it glows. It apparently flavours food beautifully.
One of our party is a watch collector, and as we wandered happily through the streets he stopped at the door of a small watch shop. I’m sure that there are many other places in the world that sell those same watches, but what I’m positive of is how unique and special the actual shop is. The staff inside, and particularly the owner, were all dedicated to their craft. My friend was awed by the display, and the kind owner actually let him try on a very rare U-Boat watch. The owner also showed us all an incredibly special prototype watch by an English company named Bremont, which had an actual piece of the Wright Brothers aeroplane wing canvas mounted inside, visible through a special glass back.
Unfortunately we had already made a reservation for our evening meal or we would have stopped at any number of the restaurants and cafes. My sister desperate to spend more money in some of the beautiful and individual clothes shops and I would have loved to explore the Museum of American Art.
Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and were determined to visit again.
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