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 went to an area I’ve long been wanting to visit: 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.
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!
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.