Winter Park is a beautiful retreat from the hectic pace of the Orlando theme parks. Established in the mid 1800s, Winter Park became a favorite escape for Northern snowbirds. Today it’s an upscale, tranquil community with high end shops and restaurants surrounded by peaceful lakes.
The Scenic Boat Tour is an eighteen passenger pontoon boat with an entertaining captain that cruises through three of Winter Park’s seven lakes; Lake Maitland, Lake Osceola, and Lake Virginia. All three spring-fed lakes are connected by two man-made canals. Lake Maitland is home to the Kraft Azalea Gardens, a popular wedding location. Breathtakingly picturesque Polasek Museum and Gardens is situated on Lake Osceola and features a Paint Out every spring. Rollins College, the oldest recognized university in Florida resides on Lake Virginia, and gorgeous mansions encircle all three lakes.
Our captain, Allen, gave us brief architectural and personal histories of some of the mansions and their occupants. Some houses were built as early as the 1890s while the significance of other estates was based on their owners’ reputation like basketball player Horace Grant, Mr. Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood, and the Sinclair oilers from Oklahoma.
The lakes are home to many water activities such as fishing, boating, waterskiing, paddle- boarding, jet-skiing and Rollins College rowing and water skiing teams. Bird watchers delight in the many ibis, herons, osprey and anhingas. A botanical wonderland of papyrus, ferns, bamboo, tropical flowers, oak and cypress trees flourish along the canals and waterfront.
The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is a relaxing activity that shows off the charm of Old Florida. Young or old, it quickly becomes a favorite of tourists and locals alike, and is a great place to take a date, friends, kids, or family.