9 Amazing Experiences in a Beautiful Conservatory

Winter Garden, Florida is a charming, historic village that has experienced an incredible renaissance. In fact, there is so much to do that one visit may not be enough. Thirty minutes west of downtown Orlando, a stop in this former citrus city founded in 1908 is well worth your time.

Downtown Winter Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to the incredible architecture preserved and redeveloped. Today, the old storefronts house restaurants and trendy boutiques. As you stroll along Plant Street, you’ll take in the streetscape that looks like a movie set. Flowers are everywhere in pots and on trellises, like the trailing wisteria vines adorning a pergola in the center of the thorofare. Under the wisteria, a beautiful seating area provides a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery. The award-winning West Orange Trail has over 20 miles of cycle paths and will soon be part of the 250-mile Coast to Coast Connector Trail. It passes through Winter Garden, which sits along Florida’s fourth largest lake, Lake Apopka. If you enjoy shopping, dining, biking, sipping award-winning craft beer, or enjoying a beautiful sunset, here are nine reasons (in no order) to stop by beautiful Winter Garden, Florida.

Crooked Can Brewery (Photo credit: Jeanine Consoli)

1. Sip award-winning craft beer

The Crooked Can Brewing Company is a beer lover’s dream. This local Florida brewery produces delicious craft beers, fulfilling the mission of providing visitors and fans with a great reason to drink locally. Brewmasters use state-of-the-art brewing practices and blend old-world techniques to create a list of tantalizing full-bodied beers. “Main brands” include an IPA, a Hefeweizen, and the award-winning Florida Sunshine Lager. Still, you can check the website to see what’s available when you’re in town, including seasonal and small-batch varieties. This state-of-the-art brewing facility is connected to the vendor hall known as Plant Street Market, so pairing a pint with fresh organic food is easy. The outdoor patio is draped in Spanish moss from the majestic live oak trees. It’s a perfect place to sip a few hours while sampling all the amazing food from the vendors at Plant Street Market. If you want to experience how the “magic” is made, tours are available on Sundays from 12pm to 4pm every hour.

Eclectic shops along Plant Street in Winter Garden, Florida.
shops along Plant Street (Photo credit: Visit Orlando)

2. Taste delicious food at Plant Street Market

Plant Street Market is an indoor artisan market and food hall. The vendor stalls are in a building adjoining the Crooked Can Brewing Company. The proximity to delicious world cuisines makes for an incredible dining experience. Pair your foodie discoveries with a Crooked Can craft beer from the brewer and stroll through the market to sample natural and organic foods and purchase wares from over 20 vendors. Specialty chocolates, pastries, donuts and popsicles are tempting treats after your meal. The market is open 7 days a week. It’s a fun place to bring your pet and relax while listening to live music on the terrace. There are even specialty coffees and artisan tea stalls, which provide a delicious mid-day pick-me-up. I loved sampling different stores and enjoyed empanadas, tacos and pizza on my first trip. It was fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back for more.

West Orange Bike Path, Winter Garden, Florida.
Jeanine Consoli

3. Bike the West Orange Trail

The West Orange Trail is a 20.8 mile paved trail that stretches through Winter Garden, paralleling the southeast shore of beautiful Lake Apopka. This free amenity makes Winter Garden an official Florida Trail town. The smooth surface is perfect for biking, hiking, rollerblading and bird watching while enjoying the natural surroundings. The path takes you into town and is great for browsing antique shops and restaurants, especially when you need a refresher. If you are cycling with children, you can stop off at one of the many playgrounds along the way. The West Orange Trail is the longest paved trail in Orlando, and if you don’t bring your bike, you can rent one from West Orange Trail Bikes & Blades Co. They will deliver a bike to your location for an additional fee . They have bikes for kids and bike trailers for those too young to pedal, and they offer packages that can take 2 hours or more depending on what you want to see and how far you’d like to go.

sunset over Lake Apopka, Winter Garden, Florida.
Jeanine Consoli

4. Worship an epic sunset at Lake Apopka

If you like to fish, you’ll find some of the biggest bass swimming around Lake Apopka. Florida’s fourth-largest lake, at more than 30,000 acres, was once considered a “dead lake” due to phosphates poisoning fish and causing algae blooms. But luckily that has changed. Efforts to clean the lake of runoff and the natural spring that feeds and refreshes the water have made it safe for boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. If you’re not an angler but love to watch a beautiful sunset, head to Newton Park before the orange ball dips into the water. You can relax, picnic and enjoy the view.

Shopping at the Winter Garden Farmers Market.
Visit Orlando

5. Shop at the Winter Garden Farmers Market

The Winter Garden Farmers Market is a weekly event where farmers and artisans offer their productions and products. Every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. year-round, vendors sell their wares in the Town Pavilion on Tremaine Street. Start your day at the market, then continue shopping at the many bespoke retailers in the historic city center. You will discover fresh produce, plants, crafts and culinary specialties at the Farmers Market.

the outdoor marquee of the Winter Garden Theatre.
Jeanine Consoli

6. Enjoy the performing arts at the Garden Theater

The Garden Theater has graced Plant Street since 1935 as a one-screen cinema. Today it operates as “West Orange County’s premier performing arts center”. You’ll enjoy over 200 professional events each season, including live theater, concerts, dance performances and movies. The building, built in the neo-Mediterranean style, has been renovated over the years for other uses and was once an agricultural supply store. Since its recent restoration, the interior is now reminiscent of a Spanish courtyard with red tiled roofs, “Romeo and Juliet” balconies and a dark blue ceiling adorned with stars. It is a precious jewel in the heart of the historic city center.

7. Step back in time at the Winter Garden Heritage Museum

The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation began its efforts to preserve the architecture and heritage of West Orange County in 1994. The foundation operates two different historical museums – the Winter Garden Heritage Museum and the Central Florida Railroad Museum. The Heritage Museum is inside the 1918 Atlantic Coast Line depot. Inside you’ll visit exhibits, artifacts and the history of Winter Garden’s past as part of the construction industry. citrus. There are antique citrus labels and a replica citrus packing factory, a nod to the town’s roots. A special kiosk shares details of the region’s fascinating history. Archaeological finds include Native American pottery, beads, tools, arrowheads, and pioneer settlement history. Outside the museum, you’ll find an original 1943 Cheshire caboose, a 1950 fire engine, and farm equipment used in the citrus industry. These elements are interactive and visitors are encouraged to explore them.

Central Florida Railroad Museum, Winter Garden, Florida.
Central Florida Railroad Museum (Photo credit: Jeanine Consoli)

8. Explore the railway sleepers in Winter Garden

The Central Florida Railroad Museum is operated by the Central Florida Railway Historical Society. Admission is free, and whether you like trains or history, it’s worth the trip to explore Central Florida’s important railroad past. The exhibits and photos are a marvel, including the collection of 25 different models of Chinese dining cars and the silver service of historic American passenger trains. Suppose you are traveling with grandchildren or just love a model train exhibit. In this case, you’ll enjoy the HO scale model railroad and Thomas the Tank engine setup. You’ll find books, gifts, model trains and original artwork for sale in the gift shop.

The former Winter Garden Fire Station, built in 1938, now houses the Winter Garden Arts Association and SOBO Art Gallery. The association and gallery reside in a historic building that remains in the hearts of older residents who still remember hearing the siren wail at noon, signaling lunch time for the townspeople. In addition to presenting art exhibits, offering classes, and presenting local artists with a venue to receive awards and recognition, the mission of the WG Art Association is “to encourage individual creativity and self-expression. artistic” and to broaden public access to art. SOBO will reopen on April 7andbut public art is displayed around town.

The iconic entrance to Gatorland in Winter Garden, Florida.
entrance to gatorland (Photo credit: Jeanine Consoli)

Pro tip

Not far from Winter Garden, and only 20 minutes by car, is Gatorland. Gatorland is a 110-acre wildlife sanctuary that is pure Florida kitsch. It’s a fun place to visit and it takes around 3-4 hours to enjoy everything in the park. Alligators (including the rare white leucistic alligators) and crocodiles, from hatchlings to 14 feet, are part of the attraction. There’s also an aviary, petting zoo, shows, and other exciting attractions like zip lines. Gatorland has been around since 1949 and is a premier wildlife attraction still owned by the family of founder Owen Godwin. A visit here offers a unique experience and education about alligators, one of the most misunderstood reptiles on the planet.

For all that beautiful Florida has to offer: