By Janet K. Keeler
Winter Park sits in the northern shadow of bustling Orlando but it should not be considered an afterthought for visitors, thanks to its own charms. It’s a small, historic town (pop. 30,000) with world-class Rollins College hugging Lake Virginia and the Morse Museum with its fine collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany jewelry and pottery works in the central hub. The Amtrak passenger trains rumble through regularly. Commuter trains, too.
The town got its start in the late 1800s as a resort community, and visitors continue to enjoy the laidback lifestyle here. That’s where Winter Park Village comes in. The 49-store outdoor shopping complex isn’t old but there’s a slowed-down vibe to a stroll here. And, like Winter Park itself, it seems exclusive. It’s unusual for a mall to pull off a boutique feel, but Winter Park Village gets close.
The complex is built to look like, well, like a village center. It has none of the trappings of traditional indoor malls. Drive a car through the shop-lined streets or walk the sidewalks.
In an effort to find something out of the ordinary, step into Susie Q Boutique for gladiator sandals or open-weave shoe boots. This is the place to buy something for a casual beach wedding or a little black dress (LBD) to wear out on the town. It’s sophisticated. Look for more fun clothes and accessories at Walk on Water.
From there, it’s on to Veronsa, a stylish boutique that would also be in contention as a place to shop for the LBD. Veronsa is hooked into the latest trends in women’s fashions from strappy sandals to off-the-shoulder blouses and dresses. If it’s just a beaded cocker or a straw bag to update an older look, you’ll find those accessories here.
A special occasion requires a special dress and Francesca’s sweet collection is good enough for any wedding, morning, noon or night. Prices are might fine, too, and $60 could be enough to upstage the bride. Francesca’s also carries swimsuits and home décor items, which seems sort of incongruous but once you step inside the door, any doubts are driven away. This is the place you just might your dress for the wedding and the gift for the couple. Ah, one-stop shopping.
Brides and their parties are likely to find all these need for the nuptials at Calvet Couture Bridal, including flowing dresses for beach weddings and formal ball gowns for evening affairs. Saying yes to the dress might be easier here than saying yes to the groom!
After a few hours of shopping, you’ll want to stop into Tea and Tea for a spot of something hot or cold. Loose teas are for sale, as are all the tea-making accouterments. The real draw for a weary shopper is a drink to refresh body and soul. Japanese Cherry Temple cream tea or Flamingo Passion could be calling your name. A variety of spice-laden chai teas are also available.
With sustenance in your belly, it’s time to hit the shops again. But what sort of shopping do you have in mind? There are several home décor stories including The Lofts of Winter Park Village and Adjectives Market, where artists sell vintage wares. It’s at Adjectives Market where you can find a one-of-kind painting or a painted antique dresser.
For the athlete in you, a new REI outdoor store is where you can find everything you need to rough it in the grand Florida outdoors. Maybe you’re an indoor yoga warrior. If so, REI stocks lots of fashionable yoga duds for both men and women.
A day of shopping at Winter Park Village is sure to work up a hunger and there are plenty of places to stop for a bite, big or small. Splurge at Ruth’s Chris Steak House or give yourself plenty of time to pour over the voluminous menu at the Cheesecake Factory, among others including pizza and Asian choices. The Firefly Kitchen and Bar might be more your style with its Southern-style comfort food. Can you say 30 craft brews on tap, another 100 in the bottle and nearly 50 selections of wine?
What a way to relax after a full day of shopping.
When you go…
Winter Park Village
510 N Orlando Ave.
Winter Park, FL 32789
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