Exploring Central Florida: Winter Garden

Central Florida is internationally known for Mickey Mouse and its grand assortment of theme parks. However, if you're willing to travel off the beaten path and explore, you'll discover the region filled with authentic Florida experiences. Known as 'a charming little city with a juicy past', Winter Garden is definitely one authentic old Florida destination well worth a visit.

Winter Garden’s rebirth came with 1992 creation of the Winter Garden Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). The city received a huge boost with the opening of the West Orange Trail in 1999. Utilizing the abandoned railroad right-of-way in the heart of the city, it immediately made Winter Park a destination in heart of its 22-mile long path between Lake County and Apopka. By 2003, Plant Avenue’s historic Edgewater Hotel had reopened as a bed-and-breakfast-style lodge, giving guests an 1920s experience with today’s comforts.

Today, a trip to Winter Garden reveals a quaint bicycle and pedestrian friendly atmosphere characterized by mature native landscaping, well maintained parks, local mom and pop retailers, restaurants, theatres and museums. In addition, a testament to the community’s hard work can be found in the popular Plant Street Market. Opening its doors in may 2015, the $2 million, 12,000-square-foot public market contains 20 vendors featuring natural, organic food and handmade products all under the same roof.

Winter Garden is a great example what a business district can become when preserving and promoting local history is combined with sensible urban infill, adaptive reuse and multi-modal connectivity, despite being situated off the beaten path of expressways and arterial highways. For those looking to experience Winter Garden’s unique sense-of-place in person, the community can easily be reached via the Florida’s Turnpike, SR 429 (Western Beltway) or SR 50/Colonial Drive, 14 miles directly west of Downtown Orlando.