A summer internship, daily life, and conflicting schedules did not allow much room for a summer getaway this year. However, one weekend was all that was needed for a relaxing weekend vacation and some new adventures! While staycations are a great way to get a nice break without breaking the bank, the idea of not having to deal with delayed flights and discovering places I could easily go back to is what had me sold on the idea. So this past weekend my family and I packed our bags, jumped in the car and headed an hour and a half away to sunny Orlando, Florida. We debated over where to go for our staycation, but ultimately decided that Orlando was a great place to relax, and it would also allow a quick drive to beautiful Winter Park during our weekend stay.
We began our trip by checking in to the beautiful Waldorf Astoria (thank you hotel loyalty points!) and made our way to the pool to relax a little before dinner. After relaxing the night away we headed to bed to get on the road early the next morning.
The next morning we made our way to the Winter Park Farmer’s Market. The market is hosted in and around the beautiful old Winter Park train depot from 7am to 1pm every Saturday (and thanks to Florida weather there’s no winter break for this farmer’s market). According to the city’s site, the market is rated number one for Central Florida markets, and it is not hard to see why. The market had a large variety of goods ranging from $12 orchids to locally farmed produce.
Food trucks and bakery stands were also in attendance to satisfy your watering mouth after you finished purchasing the delicious fruits and veggies for your next recipe. Coffee stands and a gourmet ice pop cart also catered to market goers toughing out the 95 degree day. We grabbed some bread, cheese, and local blueberry Limoncello jam for the evening, as well as a mini baked monkey bread to snack on as we walked. The market was a must see, and the best I have been to in the state. After walking through the market and picking up our goods, we travelled to another market about five minutes away.
East End Market is housed in a large permanent location with a garden out front. It hosts several stalls inside with different food, flower, and gift vendors. The permanent market reminded me much of Napa Valley’s Oxbow Public Market and a great place to grab a hand made thank you gift or small bite while supporting local vendors. Another must see during a day trip to Winter Park! If you’re like me, you will spend a good hour wandering through the aisles of succulents, cacti, and freshly baked breads!
After walking and shopping ourselves out at the markets we thought a quick lunch was appropriate. Winter Park offers several unique local restaurants to choose from, but I found a local favorite that I could not pass up. The Hubbly Bubbly (slang for hookah, but you won’t find hookahs in this joint) is a quick Middle Eastern style falafel house that delivers falafel topped fresh ingredients bowls and salads (as well as carnivorous options for those not adventurous enough to try the chickpea goodness).
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the unique restaurant was started by a marketing group as a concept store to test their marketing tactics. It has since grown as a local favorite and it is easy to see why. The friendly staff fry up the fresh falafel upon ordering and give plentiful scoops of the fresh ingredients. I went with the falafel hummus bowl which was hummus, olive oil, spices, falafel and my choice of toppings. I chose to top the bowl with pickled turnips, salad mix, tabbouleh salad, and cucumber tomato salad. The bowl was big enough to share and absolutely delicious. This quick and healthy option was great for a summer lunch before our next adventure. Currently, Winter Park is the only Hubbly Bubbly location, but let it be noted that if they ever expand to Tampa you will find me there on opening day! After our great morning and lunch we decided for one more adventure in Winter Park before heading back to relax by the pool. Can you believe it was only noon…
Our final Winter Park destination was a Scenic Boat Tour, which offers tours through the various lakes and canals in the area. The hour long boat ride was interesting and beautiful as we toured the giant lakes with views of Rollins College and large estates. Our captain filled us in with the history of Winter Park and the large estates throughout our 60 minutes. I must say, it was probably better suited for a fall or spring day, as the boats cannot be covered due to the canal bridges. If you find yourself on a boat tour bring the SPF and a pair of sunglasses! All in all, it was a great tour led by wonderful locals and the hot day made our afternoon by the pool that much more refreshing!
We wrapped up our staycation relaxing by the pool enjoying the warm sunny day. If you ask me, our hour and a half away staycation felt more like a wonderful destination trip… And the best part? Not dealing with the airport chaos. Staycations are the perfect way for a quick getaway for those with busy schedules or limited budgets. During your next free weekend try exploring the places around you and seeing what your state has to offer. You will be surprised what hidden gems you may discover, all while supporting your local economy!
I would love to hear what you discover around your area!