exterior of the Charles Hosmer Museum of American
PARK, Fla. — Back in 1881, wealthy Northerners decided
to buy some lakefront land here and change the area’s
name from Osceola — after the chief of the state’s
Seminole Indians — to Winter Park to make the area more
appealing to vacationers. Little would they know that a
century later nearby Orlando would grab the attention of
most of those vacationers as the theme-park capital of the
downtown Winter Park remains a year-round vacation gem,
best enjoyed at a slower pace. The shaded, downtown brick
streets of this bedroom community on Orlando’s northern
border touts a museum with the world’s most
comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s
works and installations. There’s also a Pittsburgh
connection to the state’s first private liberal arts
college — Rollins College — where the late Fred Rogers
met his wife Joanne, and the late KDKA-TV anchor Patti
Burns also attended.
next time you’re in Central Florida take a little detour
to Winter Park for a satisfying 48 hours:
your stay at The Alfond Inn, which is within walking
distance of Park Avenue, the city’s upscale shopping
street; Central Park, the farmers’ market and Rollins.
In fact, the luxury boutique hotel, with 112 guest rooms,
is owned by the college and displays much of the Alfond
Collection of Contemporary Art on its lobby walls and
hallways. Opened in 2013, it was built to raise money for
scholarships, bolstered by an endowment of the Alfond
hotel has several open seating areas, some lined with
bookshelves stocked with Rollins’ Tomokan yearbooks. See
if you can find the 1951 yearbook featuring Fred Rogers as
a senior (He graduated with a B.A. in music). Sara Joanne
Byrd, who was a year ahead of him, graduated from Rollins
E. New England Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789;
dinner at Prato, considered one of the city’s best
restaurants. It offers hearty, rustic Italian cuisine,
served in a cool, hip atmosphere that makes it feel like a
"real Manhattan-style joint," according to
reviews on Zagat. It also offers year-round patio dining,
facing the expansive Central Park on Park Avenue.
North Park Ave.; 1-407-262-0050. www.prato-wp.com
breakfast at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, now in its
36th year. The road is closed at 200 W. New England Ave.,
in front of the restored historic train depot. Eighty
vendors offer local produce, all kinds of plants, baked
goods, spices and more. Operates from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
every Saturday, except the third one in March, when the
popular Winter Park Arts Festival takes over downtown.
Museum, 9:30 a.m.
centerpiece of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American
Art is Tiffany’s works. In 2011 it opened a
6,000-square-foot wing to exhibit art and architectural
objects from his Long Island country estate — Laurelton
Hall. Built between 1902-05, it burned down in 1957, but,
thankfully, many of the objects were rescued. The museum
has re-created the mansion’s Daffodil Terrace —
installed in a glass-enclosed gallery; its dining room;
living room; and Fountain Court. You’ll also find the
brilliantly colored windows, mosaics, marble, jewels,
glass, stone and furnishings that make up the chapel
interior that Tiffany created for the 1893 World’s
Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was his appearance at
this exposition that elevated his work to the
international stage. And there’s much, much more.
pass up the gift shop, which includes a wonderful
collection of Tiffany-inspired patterns and glass
replicas, books, scarfs, jewelry and unusual items.
N. Park Ave.; 1-407-645-5311. www.morsemuseum.org
eight blocks of Park Avenue are part Walnut Street in
Shadyside-King Street in Charleston, S.C.-Beaver Street in
Sewickley and Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, offering classy
boutiques, mom and pops and high-end chains. Along the
strip you’ll see fashionably dressed shoppers, many
speaking French or Italian, making an afternoon of the
experience. There are a collection of elegant and tasty
spots scattered about: Cafe de France, Boca Kitchen Market
Bar, Orchid Thai Cuisine, Bistro on Park Avenue, Pannullo’s
Italian Restaurant, to name a few. The avenue has long
been dog friendly and many shops and restaurants allow you
to bring them along.
a late-afternoon drink, stop at The Wine Room, a place you’ll
never find in Pennsylvania (at least for now). The place
offers 156 wines for tasting via wine dispensing machines.
They’re equipped with an Italian-made, wine-preservation
system that delivers a fresh sample every time. All
machines allow patrons to choose from 1-ounce, 2.5-ounce
or 5-ounce pour sizes.
get started purchase a wine tasting card ($3). It acts
like a debit card and can only be used on the machines.
Load whatever amount of money you wish on the card and the
sampling begins. All wines are available for purchase by
the bottle. Cheese and other appetizers also are sold.
S. Park Ave.; 1-407-696-9463.
at the family-owned Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine is a must.
Bosphorus is the name of the strait that lies in the
center of Istanbul and forms part of the continental
boundary between Europe and Asia. Chef Halil Ertane
prepares a variety of authentic dishes, wowing the crowds
with his table-sized lavas or hollow bread. Most of the
staff is Turkish.
S. Park Ave.; 1-407-644-8609. www.bosphorousrestaurant.com
at the Briarpatch Restaurant is a favorite among locals
and visitors alike. Great place for people watching if you
can snag an outside table. It’s known for its homemade
lemon raspberry pancakes, brioche french toast, truffle
fried eggs, prosecco white peach bellinis and cheese
grits. Open everyday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through
Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
N. Park Ave.; 1-407-628-8651.
or 11 a.m.
the morning seeing the town by water or bike.
Park is known for its chain of lakes, many graced with
beautiful Spanish-style mansions. Since 1938, the Scenic
Boat Tours have taken visitors to explore these lakes,
which are linked by narrow canals lined by tall cypress
trees. Today, the company offers 18-passenger pontoon
boats that operate every day between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(leaving every hour on the hour). You’ll find the boat
dock at 312 E. Morse Blvd., at the end of the parking lot
across from the First United Methodist Church. Adults,
$12; children 2-11, $6. Cash or check only.
you’d rather see the neighborhoods by bike, rent them at
Breakaway Bikes, 141 Lincoln Ave., off of Park Avenue.
Beyond the downtown, seek out Kraft Azalea Gardens on
Alabama Drive that also will take you to Via Tuscany, one
of the city’s most beautiful red-brick avenues lined
with lakefront mansions. The houses just get bigger and
bigger as you pedal your way to Via Lugano, over the
bridge and onto the little (private) island called Isle of
Sicily in the middle of Lake Maitland. Breakaway hours: 10
a.m. — 6 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m. — 5 p.m.,
Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
a 10-minute walk from The Alfond is the retirement home of
Czech-born sculptor Albin Polasek, who immigrated to the
U.S. as a woodcarver in 1901. He moved to Florida in 1949
after 30 years as the head of the Department of Sculpture
at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1961, he and his
second wife set up a foundation to share his life’s work
with the public. That year he opened to visitors the
galleries, chapel and gardens at his picturesque estate on
edge of Lake Osceola, and the residence was opened as a
museum in 1988. He created 400 works during his lifetime
(he died in 1965). Two hundred are on the museum property.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday. 633 Osceola Ave. http://polasek.org
on the property is the 1885 Capen-Showalter House, which
had been moved there in December 2013 in a herculean
campaign to save it from demolition. It had been built on
the other side of Lake Osceola, and through the effort of
three preservation groups and a $450,000 fundraising
campaign, the 200-ton house was cut in half and floated
across the lake to the Polasek museum grounds. It is being
restored to serve as museum offices, exhibition space and
venue for special events.
to Walt Disney World.