Main Streets 2017 – Florida
It sits just north of Orlando, but you won’t find theme parks in Winter Park. Instead, at the heart of this appealing community, you’ll find Park Avenue, a handsomely tree-shaded, brick-paved destination for shopping, dining both indoors and on the sidewalk, and a vibrant art and cultural scene.
Founded as a winter resort around the turn of the 20th century, Winter Park today is rich with green space. It has some 70 parks, where you can enjoy special events, festivals and celebrations throughout the year, or just sit in the shade to enjoy a Central Florida afternoon. Central Park, the city’s largest, faces along Park Avenue, just down the street from the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.
The Morse Museum at 445 North Park is home to the world’s fullest collection of works by legendary glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Along with his famed leaded-glass lamps and windows, you can see Tiffany-created jewelry, art glass, and even the chapel interior he created for the the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The museum also has late 19th- and early 20th-century American painting, pottery and decorative art.
Up and down Park Avenue are more than 140 boutiques, cafes, upcale restaurants and art galleries. The street also hosts two highly regarded art festivals. The Autumn Art Festival is the only juried fine art gathering that exclusively showcases the work of Florida artists; each year, 180 artists are chosen to show their works in mid-October along Park Avenue and in Central Park.
In March, the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival draws over 350,000 visitors to see highly creative work from some 225 sidewalk artists. Organized entirely by local volunteers, the festival has been named several times as one of the nation’s top art fairs and fine art shows.
Park Avenue is also home to the Casa Feliz Historic House Museum, a fine restored Spanish-style home where a different music group performs in the main parlor each week. Also contributing to Winter Park’s rich cultural life are the The Annie Russell Theatre, Florida’s longest continuously operating theater, and The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Just below the southern end of Park Avenue, the campus of Rollins College has been ranked as one of the most beautiful U.S. colleges by the Princeton Review.
All photos courtesy of the City of Winter Park Communications Department