Winter Park Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Winter Park

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    Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours

    by alancollins Updated Apr 7, 2014
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    We have been on one of the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours before, though it seems that the boats can travel a long faster than on the previous trip. We went on a Sunday so it was busy but the company has a number of boats so this was no problem. The boats hold 18 passengers each and you are allocated to a particular boat in what seems to be a system of balancing up the passengers. The tour starts on Lake Osceola with a commentary throughout the one hour trip. You travel down a short canal and into Lake Virginia before a trip around the lake. The trip is reversed and you travel back into and along Lake Osceola before travelling down a longer canal and into Lake Maitland. The commentary is up to date and informs you about what work is being done on the multi million dollar homes that surround the lakes. This is chance to view how the wealthy live for a cost of $12 each. Even during the winter the sun can burn so make sure you have applied sun tan lotion and during the summer bring a hat and water. The boat trips run daily between 10am to 4pm with the last tour at 4pm. The company only accepts cash and no credit or debit cards.

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    Leu Gardens

    by alancollins Updated Apr 7, 2014

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    The last time we went to Orlando the children were small and visiting gardens was not their thing. This time we were on our own and now we also appreciate gardens more than we did then. Leu Gardens have a wonderful history and it is a great place to wander around and soak up the beauty of the place. The tropical and semi-tropical gardens cover an area of 50 acres. The land was originally owned by the Mizell family and the first part of house which now serves as a museum was built on the land in 1888 and now consists of 11 rooms and contains furniture from that period. There are guided tours of the house every 30 minutes and you can sit on the shaded veranda whilst waiting for the next trip. Harry and Mary Leu purchased the gardens in 1936. The Leus enjoyed traveling around the world and brought back many exotic plants including camellias. The gardens now contain the third largest camellia collection in the United States and the largest in Florida. In 1961 the Leus donated the gardens to the City of Orlando who now manage them. Similar to other gardens in Europe this is a popular location for weddings in the grounds.
    There are no cafes or restaurants at Leu Gardens and none in the immediate vicinity. The only refreshments available are from vending machines. So be warned and bring a drink and food if you intend to stay a while.
    According to the website free admission is available the first Monday of the month.
    Leu Gardens are open daily from 0900 - 1700 but check the website as it does close early on the occasional day.

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    Art in the Gardens

    by grandmaR Written Sep 27, 2011
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    Otfinoski Sculptures are seven metal sculptures were commissioned for the Leu Gardens’ Idea Garden. One of them is the Girl Flying a Kite and another one was a girl and her mother.

    More realistic are the Citrus Workers

    And then there was a huge windvane in the shape of a grasshopper

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    Harry P. Leu Gardens - Overall

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 27, 2011

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    Because the other things I wanted to do were not open until ten or noon, we went to the Leu Gardens in the morning. We drove there with me using three maps each with different information. Fortunately when we got close, there were signs pointing to the site, and when we got there (about 9:15), I was surprised to see people directing us to parking places. Um... I would have expected there not to be many people on a Saturday in Orlando this early in the morning.

    It turned out that the gardens have over 150 kinds of camellias, and this is the day of the big camellia show. So THAT'S what all the people are doing there.

    This was serendipitous because the show and grounds were free instead of costing $5 (or $4 for seniors or other protected species like AAA members). We couldn't see the show until it opened at 1 pm because the judges were in there judging the specimens, but there was plenty of other stuff to see.

    Like...
    America's third largest Camellia collection
    and
    The largest formal rose garden in Florida.

    Hours: Gardens open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Christmas day. Last Garden admission at 4:00 pm

    Cost of Admission now is only $7.00 for adults and $2.00 for children grades(K-12). Free admission (excluding tour groups) on on the first Monday of every month 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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    Leu House Museum

    by grandmaR Written Sep 27, 2011

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    The Leu House in the middle of the gardens is on the National Register of Historic Places (Mizell-Leu Historic District). Guided tours of the Leu House, illustrating turn-of-the-20th century Florida living, are available on the hour and the half hour daily from 10 am to 3:30 pm. Tours last about 20 minutes. The house is closed the month of July and on Christmas Day.

    About 10 of 10, we went to the Leu house and sat on the porch to wait for the tour. We were the only two people there for the first tour (unlike the later tour - we saw about 30 people waiting when we came out).

    John Mizell (David Mizell's son) built the first part of the house in 1888, and then a millionaire from NYC Duncan Pell bought it because he wanted to divorce his wife and marry Helen Gardner a film actress and the laws in Florida on divorce were less stringent. Pell sold the house in 1906 to the Woodwards. When they died in 1928, the house went into a trust until 1936 when Harry Leu bought it. He put in the bathrooms.

    Most of the furniture isn't original but was donations from various Orlando families, but it was an interesting tour none-the-less but since it wasn't original inside I didn't mind as much not being able to take photos inside. The bathrooms reminded me of the newer bathrooms in my grandfather's house.

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    Leu Enabling Garden

    by grandmaR Written Sep 27, 2011
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    One of the gardens sections which was very interesting was the Enabling Garden which used raised beds. It demonstrated the latest trends including textured and fragrant plants and multi-colored paving. Raised beds allow gardeners to care for the garden more easily with little bending, stooping or reaching. A level grade, firm surface, good drainage and color contrasts for visual demonstration contributes. The plants were chosen for their beauty and appeal to multiple senses with bright colors, fragrance and texture.

    Someone in a wheelchair or who needs to remain seated most of the time could still garden. They are also helpful to people with visual impairments because they're in closer range than the ground.

    Notice that someone in a sitting position can reach the long thin flowerbeds. Rather than sit in the chair, many people simply pull themselves from the chair onto the wide stone coping and garden.

    Hours: Gardens open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Christmas day. Last Garden admission at 4:00 pm

    Cost of Admission now is only $7.00 for adults and $2.00 for children grades(K-12). Free admission (excluding tour groups) on on the first Monday of every month 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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    Parks, Colleges and Museums from a Boat

    by grandmaR Written Sep 27, 2011

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    Victorious Christ - Albin Polasek Museum
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    The tour guide pointed out various parks (such as Dinky Dock Park) and also the Albin Polasek Museum, and the campus of Rollins College and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. We only saw these from the water, but if you had time, they would be interesting to visit on land.

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    Expensive Waterfront Property

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 27, 2011
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    The only way to really see the opulent private homes and exquisite estates sprawling along the shores is either by taking a pontoon boat cruise (which we did) or renting a boat or bringing your own boat. This exclusive properties can't really be appreciated from land.

    Daily 10:00am through 4:00pm (Except Christmas) Tours Depart on the Hour!
    Adults - $12.00 Children (2-11) - $6.00 (Tax Included) Under 2 Years Old Ride Free!
    Cash or Check Only.

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    Canal Trip - But Not in Venice

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 27, 2011

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    Low Bridge with another boat coming
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    I saw that there were boat rides around the Winter Park Area which is billed as "The Venice of America".and I decided that would be a good thing to do. The boat rides were every hour on the hour. We found a place near the boat dock, and had to decide whether to wait 40 minutes for the next tour, or go and eat and not have a place to park when we got back. We decided to wait. After we got our tickets (which were then $10 for adults and $1 off for AAA membership) we sat in a shed in the dock gazing out on the lake. The tours were on pontoon boats which were open (no bimini) which concerned me because possible sun burn problems. Since we had been there early, we were in the one that was loaded first and were among the first called, but the front seat was taken, so I sat in the back. There was a speaker by my knee, but I had a little trouble hearing the guide sometimes.

    We soon found out why the boats had no tops. In the 1880s, canals had been built to float the logs out. These canals have been repaired and can be used to go from one lake to another, but the boats have to go under road bridges, and the bridges aren't high enough for the boats to have biminis.

    The sky was overcast, so it wasn't as sunny and hot as I thought it would have been.

    We went from lake to lake, and saw Rollins College, and the Art Museum and several parks from the shore. In one case, we had to back out of the canal because someone else was coming through, and in another instance the three tour boats were almost through the canal and met two other boats coming the other way. The boats closest to the entrance have to back up.

    It was an interesting trip and I got a lot of photos

    Current times and prices (2011)
    Open Daily 10:00am through 4:00pm (Except Christmas) Tours Depart on the Hour!
    Adults - $12.00
    Children (2-11) - $6.00 (Tax Included)
    Under 2 Years Old Ride Free!
    Cash or Check Only.

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    winter park welcome center

    by doug48 Written Sep 27, 2011

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    winter park welcome center

    a good first stop on a visit to winter park is the welcome center. here you can get information on winter park's museums, parks, hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightlife. for those interested in architecture and history the winter park historical museum is a short walk from the welcome center.

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    casa feliz

    by doug48 Updated Sep 27, 2011

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    casa feliz

    the robert bruce barbour house also known as casa feliz is a historic home on the grounds of the winter park country club. originally located on lake osceola it was moved to it's present location a couple of years ago by the george saunders company which was quite a feat of engineering. the casa feliz is an interesting example of old florida spanish style architecture. today casa feliz can be rented for private functions. casa feliz is listed on the national register of historic places.
    the city of winter park's motto is the "city of homes". for more images of winter park homes and historic buildings see my winter park travelogues.

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    lake island park

    by doug48 Updated Sep 26, 2011

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    lake island park is located on denning ave. between morse blvd. and fairbanks ave. this nice public park offers baseball and soccer fields, walking and jogging paths, and a childrens play area. located next to lake island park is the famous winter park sink hole. in may 1981 a huge sink hole opened up and consumed part of a import car dealership, a public swimming pool, and a two story house. the winter park sinkhole received national media attention. today the sinkhole has been stabilized and is now called rose lake. i had the opportunity to see the formation of the sinkhole and watched the house totally disappear into it. it was quite a sight.

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    park ave.

    by doug48 Updated Sep 26, 2011

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    park ave

    located in the heart of winter park, park ave and central park is the most visted part of the city. park ave is lined with upscale stores, restaurants, bars, and outdoor cafes. park ave. has a european flair and is nicknamed little europe. a fun place to visit both during the day or after dark. a fun, safe, and upscale place to visit when in the orlando area. downtown winter park is listed on the national register of historic places.

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    winter park country club

    by doug48 Updated Sep 26, 2011

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    winter park country club

    this historic golf course was built in 1914 in downtown winter park. the legendary golfer sam snead would play here once a year in the 1950's and 1960's i had the opportunity to caddy for him back in 1965 and it was an interesting experience. once a 27 hole course it is now 9 holes. open to the public it is a great course for senior and junior golfers. a historical tidbit, your humble author of this tip was the winter park club champion in 1967. note: no tee times, first come, first serve. pictured is the club house which can be rented for private functions. the winter park country club is listed on the national register of historic places.

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    albin polasek museum

    by doug48 Updated Sep 26, 2011

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    albin polasek museum

    the albin polasek museum and sculpture gardens is an interesting place to visit when in winter park. albin polasek was the head of the sculpture department at the art institute of chicago. he moved to winter park in 1949 where he painted and sculpted until his death in 1965. polasek is considered one of america's most prominent sculptors of the 20th century. his works are very simular to the works of the french sculptor auguste rodin. i had the opportunity to meet this interesting artist in the early 1960's and it was the inspiration for my visit to the rodin museum in paris fourty years later. a must see stop for those interested in sculpture and fine art when visiting winter park. the albin polasek house is listed on the national register of historic places.

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Winter Park Things to Do

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