One of my favorite parts of Orlando is the practically year long wonderful weather. As a life-long Floridian I have become sufficiently used to the heat that even the dog-days of summer are perfect to be outside. Florida attraction creators seemed to have realized this; as a result there are a slew of outdoor establishments ready to appeal to my Vitamin D necessity. As much as I love walks appreciating the prickling across my arms from the blazing sun, I enjoy being productive as well. What better way to acquire the best of both worlds than outdoor shopping! Just this weekend I went to Park Avenue in Winter Park and remembered what makes it such a spectacular breezy, summer day destination.
As much as I enjoy the cool industrial smell and feeling of air conditioning sprawling across stores at regular malls, the breath of fresh air as I switch stores in Winter Park can’t be beat. The typical shopping center in Florida, such as Florida Mall, Mall at Millenia, and Fashion Square also has the unattractive tendency of being mirror images of each other. Though they often have some unique shops, Park Avenue has far more per chain store than most other shopping centers.
My personal interest is centered on clothing, unsurprisingly. If you’re looking for recognizable brands look no further than Gap, Talbot’s, Chico’s, and Lucky Brand. Park Avenue also boasts a Lilly Pulitzer, the Florida-style based brand that’s tricky to find elsewhere. If preppy is your look pop into Siegel’s, the perfect location to find an ensemble to match your favorite pair of Sperry’s. If you prefer a little drama in your personal style try Moda, their exceptional staff will help you find an eccentric outfit for your weekend. I absolutely love Violet Clover despite rarely being able to afford their trendy styles which along with Tuni and Charyli are the destinations for trendy pieces sure to make your outfits stripped from the pages of a magazine. They even have The Collection Bridal, ready to dress you in your perfect gown for your wedding. I haven’t been but should the necessity of an ostentatious, expensive white gown find me, I’ll be sure to check it out.
Men’s apparel stores, as usual, are in shorter supply than the over abundance of female retailers. Nonetheless, the Park Avenue Orlando strip has a few standouts that I often recommend to my male friends. My particular favorite is John Craig. Styles with the southern gentleman in mind; their clean cut is sure to make ladies swoon and their staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and honest on what fits. No compliments for your vanity in this place! As Moda is to female clothing, Current is to male. Walk in at the right time and you might forget it’s a store instead of a nightclub. The styles match the environment: dark colors, wild prints, and tight silhouettes are the norm.
Children’s clothes can be found at tugboat & the bird and Max and Marley, both great destinations for sweet, unique kid styles.
Apart from the expanse of delectable eating available on this street there are many options so you can make your meals outstanding. I make a beeline for The Ancient Olive every time I find myself in the area. It’s tricky to find, as it’s not directly on Park Avenue, it’s right next to the Bistro on Park in an in between alley. This place is fantastic. It takes the tasting style of the Wine Room and transforms it into an Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar sampler. The quality is outstanding and the flavors are devastating. One sip and all others are ruined. I particularly love the raspberry balsamic. To complete your meal be sure to head to The Spice and Tea Exchange or my preference, Penzeys Spices. They have free recipe cards that helped me cook one of the tastiest and spiciest curries in my experience.
I have to make a miscellaneous category because there are still plenty of stores I love that need a shout-out. Earth Inspired Living and One Thousand Villages are my go to destinations for interesting gifts during the holidays. Among the jewelry, knick knacks, creams, hats, and kitchen ware between these two stores, I can always find a fun option to wow my friends and family. Restoration Hardware also has interesting small pieces for gifts, and their furniture is fantastic! I don’t own a piece but with the appropriate funds I would happily go purchase one. The Doggie Door is a fun store for pet lovers to find rugs, bowls, and more themes to their animal loving and the attached wine decoration Unleashed is always tempting. Don’t forget to stop by the small Orlando Watch Company for a look at some quirky pieces. If you ever have a question on any wearable timepiece, they can answer it for you.
This is just a small sampling of the finds on Park Avenue. The next time the weather inspires you to be outside, make sure to take a walk down this street for a series of interesting boutiques. There are plenty of shops even I have never entered that I am positive are worth your attention. Good luck shopping!