A visit to Winter Park almost always begins in the areas around Park Avenue. This brick-paved tree-lined street is lined with an array of high-end and not-so-high-end shops and eateries, but even if you’re not looking to spend or eat, a walk down Park Avenue takes you through the heart of this little urban village for some great browsing and people-watching opportunities.
If you’re driving, take an hour or so to wander around the luxurious and historic neighborhoods immediately surrounding Park Avenue; if the price tags in the shops didn’t seem expensive, some of these elegant and architecturally rich mansions certainly will.
The 11-acre Central Park runs along Park Avenue and is home to various festivals and local events. Even if there’s nothing going on, the fountains and majestic oak trees are practically begging you to spread out a blanket and have a picnic.
At the northern end of Park Avenue is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N. Park Ave., 407/645-5311, www.morsemusuem.org , 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–4 p.m. Sun., $3 adults, $1 students, children under 12 free; free 4–8 p.m. Fri. Nov.–Apr.), best known as the home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany; everything from Tiffany lamps and stained-glass windows to pottery and paintings is on display.
The Morse extends its purview beyond Tiffany to include a number of other late-19th and early-20th-century decorative pieces, art pottery, and a number of paintings and prints by the likes of Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Maxfield Parrish, Edward Hopper, and more.
A few blocks west of Park Avenue is Hannibal Square, a historically African American neighborhood that has slowly seen its original residents replaced by boutiques and restaurants. While there’s a nice commemorative marker at the corner of New England and Pennsylvania Avenues denoting the area’s cultural history, the best way to get a sense of the neighborhood’s past is to pay a visit to the Hannibal Square Heritage Center (642 W. New England Ave., noon–4 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., noon–5 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun., free).
The area in and around the campus of Rollins College is well worth a visit. Located lakeside in the heart of the picturesque campus, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (1000 Holt Ave., 407/646-2526, www.rollins.edu/cfam , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri., noon–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun., $5 adults) houses a fantastic permanent collection, with an emphasis on classical European and American art, including a handful of paintings from the Italian Renaissance and a number of 16th- and 17th-century portraits.
Also nearby is the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens (633 Osceola Ave., 407/647-6294, www.polasek.org , gardens, galleries, residence, chapel 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–4 p.m. Sun. Sept. 1–June 30; gardens only 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. July 1–Aug. 31; $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 students, children 11 and under free, garden free). More than half of the works created by the Czech American sculptor are on display here, and the beautiful expansive gardens are a near-perfect setting for these expressive sculptures. Polasek’s small but emotionally intense The 12th Station of the Cross, however, is not at the Museum; it can be found at his grave site at Palm Cemetery (1005 N. New York Ave.).