A Visit to Winter Park, FL

Street scene in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Ryan, Emily, Ross and Jamie at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Ross and I have been extraordinarily blessed to have family and friends visiting us throughout the time we’ve been back in Florida.

For Christmas, his sister Emily and her husband Ryan joined us, and we made the most of Disney’s options outside of the park.

Then my friend Danny visited me while he was in town (on vacation from New Hampshire), and soon my sister will be visiting too!

Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie and Danny at the Magic Kingdom
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Jamie, Ria, Robbie and Ross in Winter Park

But since I’ve gotten to visit Winter Park twice now (once with my dad and his wife Karen, and once with my brother Robbie, his girlfriend Ria and Ross), I wanted to write about it.

Winter Park, Florida is a lovely part of Orlando, with charming streets, parks, museums and a railroad running through it all. It’s very upscale, and extremely walkable (a rarity in central Florida!), with restaurants and shops reminding me a bit of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Further explorations farther from the downtown area further confirmed the Cambridge vibe, as we found quirky vintage shops, music, gaming and an amazing ice cream shop. So here are some of the highlights we’ve gotten to experience. We look forward to more on future visits. Special thanks to all of the family who are really the reason we got to this part of Orlando!

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Tiffany Stained Glass at the Morse Museum
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Original architecture from the home of Tiffany
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World's Fair | Ross and Jamie Adventure
The restored Tiffany Chapel from the World’s Fair

Of everything I’ve done in this area, the Morse Museum is probably the destination I’d most recommend a trip to see. I’ve always found Tiffany’s work to be beautiful, but it was only in the fall of 2016, when we visited a museum in upstage New York with a Tiffany exhibit, that I realized how insanely gorgeous Tiffany’s stain glass work is. I’m just completely enchanted with it. The museum is a great place to spend a few hours, with audio and booklets to enhance your tour, two videos and the opportunity to step inside a recreated chapel from the World’s Fair and Tiffany’s recreated home, in part. It’s gorgeous and perhaps best of all? It’s free on Friday evenings! Tip: No food and drink are allowed, so leave them out of site or outside; and if you must wear a backpack, you’ll be asked to wear it across your front. 

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

Bosphorous Chocolate Mousse | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine has a to-die-for chocolate mousse. And it’s gluten-free!

Well, if you’re not into good food, you can skip Bosphorous. But this restaurant is really wonderful – it must be good if Karen, a dedicated foodie, was happy to go back when I suggested it as a lunch location! They have a Winter Park location and two Orlando locations, and they have wonderful gluten-free options, but be sure to read the gluten-free menu before you go (or pull it up on your phone) because they don’t have a copy available in the restaurant. I went with lamb shanks and the dark chocolate mousse!

Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream

Kelly's Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A few scoops from Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando, Florida

When it’s got homemade in the title, it’s time to try some ice cream! Seriously, there’s lots of homemade ice cream out there, but this stuff is very, very good and sometimes exceptionally so. Homemade ice cream is impossibly difficult to find in Orlando. Make a trip for this one. My full review is here. Don’t miss the vintage shop next door!

Mead Botanical Garden

A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
A walkway at Mead Botanical Garden in Orlando, Florida

If you need a place for a picnic or to take a walk or what have you, it’s hard to beat a beautiful botanical garden. Orlando has a few options that seem promising, but this one is free, and it’s awesome. Consider some bug spray, wear some sunscreen and go have an adventure.

Cybertron Video Games

Not my thing, but this place is retro and pretty awesome. Ross was in heaven here!

And finally, another place we enjoyed:

Le Macaron French Pastries

This little chain carries tasty macarons and

Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florida | Ross and Jamie Adventure
Gelato at le macaron in Winter Park, Florid

gelato from France. There’s also a macaron ice cream sandwich option, although the flavors are pre-made so you’ll have limited options. Great for gluten-free folks and gluten eaters alike. I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one necessarily, but if you’re craving gelato or a macaron, it’s a great spot. 

We’ve still got plenty of exploring to do in the greater Orlando area, and our time is running low, so we know we won’t be able to see it all. If you’ve got a recommendation for us or for others, please let us know!

Forward to Fort Worth

Ross and I had heard great things about Forth Worth, so we made plans to take advantage of our rental car and visit. I found lots of fun things we could do, some on the advice of friends. The Stockyards give you a chance to see a cattle run, but the area also has lots of shopping, arts and nightlife. There are other touristy areas as well, and some of them seemed intriguing. But we knew we wanted to walk a bit, so when I found there were free museums and a botanical garden in the cultural district, our decision was made.

As with so many of the places we have visited this far, we didn’t have much time  (or money) to see the city, and we know we’d probably like it a lot more if we stuck around! That’s why we are looking forward to taking our time in southern Arizona in the upcoming weeks. All caveats in place, here’s what we actually did with our afternoon in Fort Worth. 

The Cultural District is nice. It’s really spread out, which is great if you like long walks, but there is plenty of parking for cars and there was tons of space for an RV when we were there too, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We parked in a public lot (max rate is $10) across from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art.

There are a lot of other free museums in town, which is fabulous, but I was attracted to this for its contemporary art and its western art and it didn’t disappoint with either. One of their temporary exhibits is called Border Cantos and it is a collaboration between a visual artist and a composer who created musical instruments made from material the visual artist found along the Texas/Mexico border. Both Ross and I were stunned by the powerful exhibit, which also includes music written with the instruments on display, and we made sure to watch the short films of the composer’s pieces too.

After that, we began walking to the Botanical Garden. Unfortunately that was kind of silly – Google Maps didn’t know about the Will Rogers complex – at least enough to tell us we couldn’t walk through it – and we saw upon arrival we would have had tons of room to park. But we got a great workout at this huge garden (we did the free one, not the Japanese one, which costs $7), Ross caught lots of Pokémon, and we enjoyed our visit.

Once the trek back to our car was complete, there was some debate on whether we should visit a game/comics store or find Ross a taco. Ultimately Ross wanted to make me happy, so we headed toward Sundance Square to see some Christmas lights.

Parking around the square is free nights and weekends, so we found a parking garage and explored the area, full of restaurants, high end shopping and many theater companies, on foot. I love seeing urban areas lit up for the holidays and this charming area didn’t disappoint. We even found a gelato place I’d heard a lot about, so I sampled some wild berries and milk chocolate flavors while Ross had coffee. (Keep up with my ice cream adventures here.)

We had a great afternoon and evening in Fort Worth. Although the traffic outside it is atrocious, the city itself has lots to offer. We hear it has some nice public transit options too – had we parked the RV at the Will Rogers complex campgrounds, a trolley could have gotten us to the lights. Next up – a trip to Denton gets us more excited about Texas!