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Discover Winter Park

Not every visit to Central Florida needs to center around a trip to a theme park. There’s more than enough to see in the area for a fascinating, fun, and relaxing vacation, ensuring everyone has a good time. One example is to spend a day in Winter Park, a truly picturesque and charming city that isn’t far from the FantasyWorld villas in Kissimmee . Don’t forget, Kissimmee has plenty to see and experience, as well.

It’s easy to spend a full day in Winter Park, a city rich with history, beautiful nature, and fun excursions, not to mention some great coffee and food to start the day. In fact, make a point of having breakfast at CFS Coffee Shop. This Colombian cafe has outstanding coffee, of course, but they also offer a varied menu with items such as traditional Colombian breakfast arepas, tofu scrambles, avocado toast, berry oatmeal bowls, protein smoothie bowls, and classic ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches taken to a new level when they’re served on ciabatta bread. From healthy to hearty, you’ll find something to appeal to everyone.

After breakfast, wander around some of the historic parts of town. Hannibal Square is an excellent choice with its charming cafes and shops and brick-lined streets. This quiet and compact street is just a few blocks from central Park Avenue, making it an easy visit. For all of its charm, it’s also an important part of the African-American culture and history in Central Florida, which you can learn about at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center.

After all of that walking, it’s time to take it easy with the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour. Be sure to schedule your tickets in advance, because although the boats leave every hour, they sell out quickly! There’s a reason this family owned and operated business has been going since 1938; they combine great views, sightings of various fauna (including the occasional gator), humor, interesting facts and history, and recommendations for a variety of further places to visit. Even without all of the information, which also includes pointing out homes of various celebrities, the tour takes you through three of the seven lakes that make up the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, and includes trips down beautiful canals that will have you dreaming of living there yourself as you pass charming homes under lush green canopies

Finally, don’t miss the parks. Mead Botanical Garden is 47 acres of gardens, including a rose garden and even a butterfly garden. There are also greenhouses and ponds filled with flora and fauna. In addition to all of that, you’ll find charming picnic spots, along with hiking trails, boardwalks, and a wealth of the natural beauty that tourists sometimes miss when visiting Central Florida.

The other favorite park of locals and visitors alike is Kraft Azalea Garden. Conveniently located behind the open-air Winter Park Village shopping and dining hot spot, it is also situated next to Lake Maitland, offering incredible sunset views. However, this is a park that is truly beautiful all day, every day. It is particularly known for the series of classical columns that form a stone arc monument known as the Exedra, which stands near the water’s edge. Photography enthusiasts will love the monument and the park, full of oak trees covered with Spanish moss, as well as a variety of plants and flowers. Though smaller, at only a little over five acres, this park, developed in 1938, is absolutely worth a visit. Both parks close at sunset.

These are just a few of the things to do in Winter Park, a truly charming, historic city that gives you another view of life in Central Florida. This is one that’s more relaxed than the hubbub of Orlando. Take at least a day to visit this beautiful city and if you go on a Saturday, you can always stop by the Farmers’  Market and pick up some food to take back to your FantasyWorld villas in Kissimmee, which include full kitchens. After such a lovely day, it’s the perfect way to sit back, relax and appreciate another side of Central Florida.

Photo by: Abigail Waters

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