USA – “The South”
Orlando, FL, USA – 28.5383 N, 81.3792 W
St Petersburg, FL, USA – 27.7518 N, 82.6267 W
Tiffany, Venetian Canals, Mickey, Dali and Beaches
What?? Isn’t Florida just – Mickey Mouse, Theme Parks, South Beach, Snowbirds, Alligators, Key West!!
Well that is what 72hrJetsetterGirl thought before she discovered the hidden gem of Winter Park just a few miles north of Downtown Orlando. Wandering down “Park Ave” as affectionally called by the locals, 72hrJetsetterGirl, enjoyed Winter Park’s cosmopolitan atmosphere with its tree lined street, sidewalk restaurants, boutique shops and museums.
Winter Park was originally founded as a “winter” resort community for wealthy northerners in the late 19th century. As 72hrJetsetterGirl window shopped her way along the vibrant main street, she was surprised that this trendy precinct also had a college town feel about it. Well as it happens to be Florida’s oldest recognized college, Rollins College (1885) is situated at the southern end of Park Avenue and many students from the private liberal arts college frequent this delightful and laid-back area.
The retail stores and dining establishments along Park Avenue are certainly upscale, definitely no “Dollar Tree” or “Potbelly” in sight. However, on the spare of the moment, 72hrJetsetterGirl treated herself to a souvenir of her visit. Who could resist a pink flamingo, which was also a fund-raising initiative for breast cancer research. Cute and for a good cause! As 72hrJetsetterGirl walked out the shop with her new purchase, it suddenly dawned on her, how on earth is she going to to fit this cute garden stake in her “backpack” carry on luggage, more to point how is it going to get pass the TSA officer! Hopefully they will think it is cute as well!
A Tiffany Extravaganza
After the shopping expedition, it was now time to visit the the most stunning attraction on 72hrJetsetterGirl’s Winter Park itinerary – a Tiffany Extravaganza. No, not the Tiffany Blue Box kind (we all do like those as well!), but the most comprehensive collection in the world of Tiffany glass, ceramics and jewelry of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is the home of all things Louis Comfort Tiffany! The museum does exhibit other well known American artists, but 72hrJetsetterGril only had the Tiffany Collection on her mind.
Who would have thought that a museum north of Orlando who be home to the Byzantine-Romanesque Tiffany Chapel with its brilliantly colourful windows and mosaics! This Tiffany masterpiece, was designed and created for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893) and fully reassembled and open to the public for the first time in more than 100 years in 1999 at the museum. Absolutely priceless.
Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s home located in Laurel Hollow, Long Island – NY, housed many notable pieces of works as well as being a work of art itself. The home was destroyed by fire in 1957. However the owner of this museum managed to salvage many of the windows and other architectural pieces and restored them to their former glory and are now on display in Winter Park.
Photography is not allowed in the museum, however the minimal museum entrance fee certainly allows for some purchases in the gift shop. 72hrJetsetterGirl walked away with a copy of “Maiden feeding flamingoes in the court of a Roman House” leaded glass which was originally exhibited at the Chicago world fair and then made its way to the artist country estate, Laurelton Hall. Yes, just in case you were wondering 72hrJetsetterGirl loves anything “flamingo” and used a great deal of self control whilst browsing the gift shop – she could have walked away with a suitcase full of Tiffany treasures.
Serenity on Venetian Style Waterways
Next on 72hrJetsetterGirl’s cultural agenda was a scenic boat cruise on Lake Osceola, the pristine chain of lakes in Winter Park. The hour long guided tour cruises through three of the seven lakes and two narrow man-made canals.
During the tour, 72hrJetsetterGirl felt she was on the Grand Canal in Venice as she ducked her head to pass under a replica of the Rialto Bridge, in a pontoon boat rather than in a gondola.
Alan, the skipper, skillfully circumnavigated the pontoon boat around the tight corners of the man made canals whilst 72hrJetsetterGirl could admire the lush ferns on the banks and could literally reach up and touch the overhanging Spanish Moss.
Once out on the lake, 72hrJetsetterGirl could take in the breathtaking views of the opulent private homes along the shore line.
. The 21st US President of the United States, Chester A Arthur, reported that Winter Park was “the prettiest place I have seen in Florida”. 72hrJetsetterGirl could not agree more as she wrapped up her adventure to this hidden treasure!
Happiest Place on Earth after dark!
Ok, now 72hrJetsetterGirl needed her Disney fix! Where can you experience the “happiest place on earth” in the evening?
The answer is Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista). A great place to grab a bite to eat, listen to live music and shop in unique boutiques… what more would a girl want – food, entertainment and shopping.
The Lego Disney characters were very impressive – not sure 72hrJetsetterGirl would have the patience to be a Lego creator.
What girl cannot resist having their photo taken with a Princess… 72hrJetsetterGirl just needs to find her Prince Charming and can then live happily ever after.
72hrJetsetterGirl always wanted to be Born to be Wild.
Head West Young Girl
Next day, 72hrJetsetterGirl’s cultural experience continued in Florida with a quick road trip of 115 miles from Orlando to the Gulf side of the state to St Petersburg or as affectionately referred to as St Pete by the locals. And in case you were wondering; yes, it was named after St Petersburg, Russia. Peterburgian railway baron Peter Demens had the crowning rights to name this area after winning a bet on a toss of a coin.
Exploring St Pete’s Waterfront
Before embarking on her cultural experience, 72hrJetsetterGirl had a delightful sunshine filled morning Sedwaying around St Pete’s coastal bike track passing by The Don CeSar Hotel aka “Legendary Pink Palace”.
Another detour on the tour and not to be missed was at the Ponce de Leon’s “foundation of youth”. Not sure if 72hrJetsetterGirl has extended her life expectancy by drinking the youth potion but the refreshing water was very well received on a hot day Sedwaying around St Pete.
After farewelling goodbye to the Sedgway team, it was time for 72hrJetsetterGirl to continue for cultural adventure of Florida. Next stop – the Salvador Dali Museum.
The Salvador Dali Museum building is an architectural masterpiece itself – hurricane proof walls out of which erupts a large free-foam geodesic glass bubble known as the “Enigma” – which is made up of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass and stands 75 feet at its highest point.
The surrounding Avant-garden creates a unique environment of learning and tranquility.
Upon entering the museum, the interior architecture is just as impressive as the outside.
72hrJetsetterGirl was amazed that this museum houses the largest collection of Dali’s work outside of Europe – a staging 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors/drawings and 1,300 graphics, photographs and sculptures. The museum is home to 7 of Dali’s 18 masterwork including The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. 72hrJetsetterGirl’s personal favorite by the Spanish surrealist painter at the museum is the “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko)”. Amazing!!
As 72hrJetsetterGirl made her way to her rental car, she could see something on the windscreen flapping in the wind… mmm wonder what could it be – maybe a discount coupon??…mmm… no such luck…. a parking ticket!!….72hrJetsetterGirl should have parked in the museum’s parking garage instead of opting for street parking….Oh No…lesson learnt.
Before heading back to Orlando, 72hrJetsetterGirl had a lovely beach walk on the white powdery sandy shores at St Petes Municipal Beach and dipped her toes in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The beach is always 72hrJetsetterGirl’s go to place.
Winter Park #FunFacts:
- Scenic Boat Tour is Florida’s longest continuously running tourist attraction;
- Louis Comfort Tiffany is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau Movement.
St Petersburg #FunFacts:
- Nicknamed the Sunshine City due to its some 361 days of sunshine each year and has a Guinness World Record for logging the most consecutive days of sunshine 768… no wonder if a popular beach getaway!
- What is a considered a “masterwork” – paintings must measure at 1.5 m in any direction and have been worked on for over a year.
The Nuts and Bolts of this Cultural Experience:
Why this destination:
- Fan of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Dali;
- 72hrJetsetterGirl saw a good value return flight to Orlando with more than enough time to drive to St Pete and back to Orlando.
- 2 days / 2 nights (In Friday night, out Sunday early evening).
- Flew into MCO – Orlando International Airport.
- Rental Car is a must in Florida!
What to take:
- As 72hrJetsetterGirl was flying a low cost carrier airline, the luxury of a carry on roller-board meant extra $$s, so she mastered the art of packing two days outfits into a backpack which could fit under the seat in front of her. One advantage, summer time in Florida is always HOT, so shorts and t-shirts will suffice.
- Read parking signs and do not assume that “weekend” street parking is free. Definitely not in St Petersburg, Florida.
- 72hrJetsetterGirl really enjoyed exploring the cultural delights of Florida. If planning a trip to Orlando, a side visit to Winter Park is well worth the effort. The Tiffany Collection is simply stunning and wandering, eating and shopping around Winter Park is certainly a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The Dali Museum is definitely a must a see attraction for all art lovers and with the added bonus a beach nearby makes it a good value destination.
Who else has been caught out and incurred a parking fine when travelling?