Weekend Postcard: Winter Park

26 March 2014

People assume that most of my Florida childhood was spent caravanning to Disney World on family vacations considering the fact that my hometown is just two hours away from Orlando. That’s like assuming New Yorkers visit the Statue of Liberty or asking someone living in Los Angeles if they shop on Rodeo Drive. I can count on one hand, if my hand had three fingers, the times I’ve been to Disney World.  So as an adult, when I visit my family now living in Orlando, we continue to opt for a different forms of entertainment, most of which happens in an area called Winter Park.  

My quick weekend trip couldn’t have been better coinciding with The 55th Annual Winter Park Arts Festival, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious outdoor art festivals.  I’ve snapped a few photos of my artist favorites below, but first I’d be delinquent in my duties as a curator of all good things if I didn’t tell you about my marvelous dinner at Prato on Park Avenue.

Here’s the thing, I was so wrapped up in conversation, wine and delicious food, I hardly snapped any pictures! I had read about Prato after dining at its sister location, Lumalast year. Chef Brandon McGalmery, a 2013 James Beard finalist, heads up both locations, but where Luma is a bit more “fine dining,” Prato is a bit more laid back. An Italian rustic eatery with wood-oven pizzas and house made pastas. Garage type doors are kept open year round and a beautiful living wall installation, planted with air plants and orchids, give Prato a breezy yet cozy open air feel. We ordered the Widowmaker pizza with fennel sausage. Topped with decadent caciovacallo cheese and finished with a farm egg. We then shared the mustard spaghetti (holy good god, why didn’t I order this just for myself?!) For my main course, I could not deny the Porchetta house special. Should you have any left, I recommend whisking it through your morning omelet–however, I housed the whole thing.  Do yourself a favor and add Prato to your to-eat list soon.

Here are a few snaps from my trip, with recommendations (even if you find yourself at Disney World, be sure to add Winter Park to your entertainment list!)

A must! The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour:  Winter park is made up of five lakes, interconnected by winding canals created by the founding lumber industry in Florida. The Scenic Boat Tour was such a wonderful change of pace from the bustling crowds of the art festival. Our tour guide gave us historical tidbits as we winded our way through the canals alongside my four-year-old nephew who  loved every minute of it. If you want to make it more of an adult filed trip, you can rent the 18-seat boat for personal tours and, if asked nicely, carry along a cocktail.

winter park boat tour

Winter Park Art Festival:  Held every spring, the festival attracts some of the most brilliant artists around the country.  One of my favorite textile designers, Kate Beck, from New Orleans, had a booth. Able to scoop up a few of her beautiful silk dresses, I feel like a sophisticated, yet sexy, art teacher in her pieces. Pictures do not do her creations justice, so I’ll be doing a full post on Kate soon – stay tuned.

Kate Beck's silk dresses. My nephew affectionately told me that I look like I'm wearing crumpled paper. Kids, so honest.

Kate Beck’s silk dresses. My nephew affectionately told me that I look like I’m wearing crumpled paper. Kids, so honest.

Sea of color from Kate Beck. (See the kimono on the far left?  Mine.)

Sea of color from Kate Beck. (See the kimono on the far left? Mine.)

I’ve been on the hunt for a colorful sculptural flower vase, and the minute I saw Delish Glass’s “wobbly vases,” I knew the search was over. Go figure, I find an artist in Orlando that is based out of Rochester, NY just an hour away.

wobbly vase delish glass

delish handmade glass

Last but not least, stationery cult favorite, Rifle Paper Co., founded by husband and wife team, Anna and Nathan Bond, is based out of Winter Park, Florida just a few blocks away from the festival. Naturally, I had to stop in to see the shop for myself and scoop up a few treats.  Be sure to check out Rifle Paper Co’s collaboration with Garance Doré and my absolute favorite, Queen collection.

photo (2)

To my brother, Max and sister-in-law, Chelsea: spoiler alert, the top left card will be en route soon for showing me such a wonderful time in Winter Park and playing such wonderful hosts. Maybe next time we’ll go to Disney 🙂


Categories: leisure, Lifestyle

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Jessica Arb Danial Art Advisory