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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shopping, Restaurants, Art - Winter Park's Park Avenue Has It All!

Park Avenue in Winter Park (photo courtesy experienceparkavenue.com)
As hard as it may be to believe, many folks come to Orlando and spend half their time shopping instead of going to theme parks. Understandably, things are much less expensive for international visitors in Orlando than they are in most parts of the world. And, of course, the many factory outlet malls in Orlando offer bargains, regardless of where you are from.

Still, you aren't going to find much in the way of truly unique items or, as American Car Rental's Karen calls them, "rare finds." She says that if you really want to find that special something that nobody else has or the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person in your life, you HAVE TO head to Park Avenue in Winter Park.

Just a few miles North of Orlando, Park Avenue has some of the most unique stores and boutiques in all of Central Florida. Jewelry, art, antiques, knickknacks, porcelain vases, bowls & figurines, specialty kitchenware, gourmet food & spices - pretty much anything that is not everywhere else can be found here. Host to one of the most exclusive and highest rated art festivals in the country, Winter Park naturally has become the permanent home for many artists whose goods can be seen in many of the shops that line several blocks of Park Avenue. You might be surprised by some of the incredible bargains you can find if you have a keen eye.

Not just for shopping, Park Avenue has some excellent places to eat, too. More than 40 restaurants line the street where you can pop in for a casual yogurt, ice cream or bagel at a mom and pop shop or sit down to lavish meal at one of several award winning fine dining restaurants. Italian, Mexican, French, Tai, American, Turkish and everything in between await your palate.

Adjacent to a beautiful park that is host to various festivals throughout the year, the restaurants and shop-lined cobblestone streets of Park Avenue are just the beginning. Take a scenic boat tour and learn about the history of the area, explore nature and cruise by some of the most affluent homes in the Orlando area. Visit the Morse Museum and see one of the most extensive Tiffany collections in the world as well as classic American pottery and late 19th - early 20th century American paintings, graphics and other decorative art objects.

Nearby, you can visit the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden, which features more than 200 American representational sculptures, the Cornell Fine Arts museum, home to a collection of more than 5,000 fine art pieces and the Winter Park History Museum, which is not only chock full of history, but is home to the weekly Saturday farmers market as well as many social balls and parties. Also nearby, you can treat yourself to the beautiful Mead Botanical Garden or the Kraft Azalea Garden as well as the Orlando Science Center, which features four floors of interactive exhibits.

For more active folks, tee it up at Central Florida's second oldest golf course, the Winter Park Country Club (one of the few golf courses you can still walk instead of riding in a golf cart), or visit Dinky Dock on beautiful Lake Virginia and go on a Venetian Paddleboard Canal Tour. Extreme action junkies will definitely want to check out Flyboard Rentals - also on Lake Virginia - and strap on an Iron Man-like jet pack and fly above the water or jump through waves headfirst like a dolphin.

It's no wonder that people say that it would take you more than a month to see and do everything in Orlando. Just the Park Avenue area has more than a week's worth of fun activities!

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