This last trip in Orlando was different than in past years where we were there solely for the Disney and Universal parks and would spend any off time at the resort pool. This time, however, while we had plans to go to the park three of our six days, there was absolutely nothing on the docket for the other three. So on the second to last morning, we spontaneously took a day trip to Winter Park.
Friends who work at Bonnier—a publishing company home to Islands and other specialty titles—had long been telling me about what a sweet little town Winter Park is, but with traffic as bad as it is in Orlando, I’ve simply never made the journey before now.
Brunching in Winter Park
SVV and I set out around breakfast time on a Friday, putting enough time between us and the morning commuters, and it took us 45 minutes to reach Winter Park from Lake Buena Vista, where the Disney parks are located along with our timeshare. By the time we arrived we were starving, so we found street parking (both easy and free) and set out in search of brunch.
If you know nothing else about me, you should know that I’m an avid Yelper. I spend hours combing through reviews before trips in search of the best places to eat in town, as there’s nothing that disappoints me more than wasting a meal. (Fat kid alert? Maybe. But I’m OK with it.)
Yelp pointed us toward Briarpatch, and once again, Yelp did not disappoint. The only problem we found with the restaurant was the brunch menu was so long and everything looked so delicious that we’d need a good five visits to try everything we both wanted to eat!
I had a raspberry and mascarpone French toast, while SVV had whatever fancy Benedict they had on tap. (You should also that know we are pretty predictable when it comes to what we each order.)
Everything was as mouthwatering as it looked, though I’m still regretting not returning later in the day to sample the creamery portion of the restaurant where they offered a bourbon cornflake ice cream, among others. Looks like we already know where we’re eating next time we’re back in Orlando!
Strolling the moss-draped streets of Winter Park
Fat and happy, we set off for a wander. I was shocked by how sprawling downtown Winter Park was; I expected it to be a street or two at most, but it just kept going and going. Shop after shop, cafe after cafe. I’d love to live in a town like this where there are so many options and everything is so walkable.
The town reminded me of the perfect mix of Savannah with its dramatic greenery and draping Spanish moss and Santa Barbara with its pedestrian-friendly streets and endless shopping.
It seems Winter Park is hardly a kept secret—which is no surprise, I suppose, as it’s home to a handful of colleges like Valencia and Rollins—as the second I mentioned on Instagram that we were there, obliging social media friends kept pinging us with recommendations like Boca, Prato and the Ravenous Pig.
Have you ever taken a day trip to Winter Park? What are your favorite off-day things to do when you’re doing a Disney or Universal vacation?
What kind of camera and lens did you use on this trip? Your pictures look amazing.
Thank you, Hazel, you’re sweet! The camera I use is a Canon 6D, and I almost always use my 24-105mm lens for photos you seen on this blog, unless they were shot with an iPhone (which some of them are).
Thank you so much for your reply. I’m your new fan. I realize you have probably been asked the question about your camera and lens many times over so I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my question.
Your blogs, the pictures, the insights of some skiing mountains and traveling tips are very helpful and informative.
Holy cow, that breakfast looks amazing!!!! What a cute little town, too.
Cute! The only thing I know about Winter Park is that Rifle Paper Co. is there. 🙂
I’ve been to Florida many times with my family and we always stay either and Orlando or Titusville – I’ve never heard of Winter Park, but it looks too cute! I will have to try and swing by there on my next trip…if not for that breakfast alone!
I love Winter Park. My daughter goes to college at Rollins, which is walking distance to Park Ave. The farmers market on Saturdays is spectacular. If you get a chance walk around the campus it is stunning.
Your lucky daughter! What a great place to go to school. We’re hoping to take my niece to the parks this year for the first time; if so, we’ll definitely be heading back to Winter Park for an afternoon.