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Winter Park Love

For more than a hundred years now, Winter Park has attracted the attention of visitors from around the world.

There are lots of reasons to love Winter Park, far too numerous to list here. But when you put them all together, it comes down to the city’s “vibe.” It’s as much a feeling you get while walking through town — greeting passersby, dining alfresco and exploring shops — as it is the beautiful homes, brick-lined street, lakes, gardens and museums that grace the city. And it’s all by design. Thanks to the city’s founders and local leaders, Winter Park has maintained its natural beauty and charm throughout the years.

Pia Brennan, General Manager

Park Avenue Hotel

For Pia Brennan, Park Plaza Hotel general manager, Winter Park is the closest she’s come to “Europe with an American touch.” Having traveled and lived in several countries, she searches for diversity in cultures, foods and ways of thinking.

“Many of this city’s founders had European ideas and established the township along those lines, with ‘boroughs’ brought together in one place, beautifully presented. Everything is close enough to access easily,” says Pia.

“We also have very good city government. They listen and work hard to preserve the traditions. The quality of activities and festivals helps keep this town very special.”

“It feels like you’re in a top European city. You stroll down Park Avenue, walk through the door of the hotel and boom, it’s like you’re stepping back in time.”

Christy Grieger, Executive Director

Winter Park History Museum

Preserving the history of Winter Park for future generations, and bringing it to life for residents and visitors, is Christy Grieger’s passion. “Winter Park is a unique town,” she explains. “It feels different from other parts of Central Florida. There’s an infusion of history that people gravitate toward, but don’t know why.”

The museum’s current exhibit features 100 years of commerce in Winter Park, dovetailing off the Chamber of Commerce’s 100-year anniversary. “Having local stores like the Golden Cricket that can visualize the past, tell us about things like the objects they sold, helps us recreate history in rotating vignettes.”

“I love local history, being able to recreate moments in time and share them. Visitors walk out with greater appreciation for how we came to be what we are today.”

Clarissa Howard, Communications Director

City of Winter Park

Winter Park’s vision statement isn’t far from the sentiment shared in this 1800s ad depicting the city as “beautiful and healthy,” Clarissa Howard points out. “The vision describes us as ‘the city of arts and culture,' cherishing its traditional scale and charm while building a healthy and sustainable future for all generations.’”

“Residents and guests don’t have to look or travel far to experience the city’s vibrant culture. Our leaders value our small-town feel, the city’s heritage, and work to ensure our growth is in keeping with its charm and character.” Public greenspace is another key priority, she adds.

“These are just a few examples of how the city shows its love for Winter Park, and the measures taken to ensure our founders’ vision of maintaining a beautiful, healthy city.”

Rich Bradley, Owner

Original Orlando Tours

Rich Bradley’s decision to add Winter Park walking tours to his business has helped enrich both locals and visitors. “Our guests are often overwhelmingly surprised that there’s such a quaint downtown village like Winter Park in the tourism capital of the world,” Rich observes. “Winter Park is the real deal. You can’t make or fake authenticity. There’s nothing else like it in Central Florida.”

He enjoys “sharing the love” with all his tours. “There are so many fascinating stories and personalities tied to Winter Park. It’s all in the open, yet it’s kind of hidden unless we tell the tale.”

“A lot of kudos go to Winter Park for realizing they have something special and protecting it. Because as I’ve said, once it’s gone, it’s gone.”