This public garden, seated on the shores of Lake Maitland, bursts with old Florida charm. The Kraft Azalea Gardens of Winter Park, established in 1938 by by George and Maud Kraft, is a small 5-acre park open from 8 a.m. until dark for 365 days a year and is free to the public.
A visit here offers a pleasant shady stroll under enormous cypress trees alongside the famed azalea bushes. You can easily take a seat among one of the many benches overlooking the lake to enjoy the lake breeze and bird song overhead.
This Exedra bench pictured below is a popular photographer’s spot. (FYI an Exedra is a semi-circular Greco-roman bench made for conversational seating).
Out in the distance, you can see the Scenic Boat Tours making their rounds. The boat ride starts on Lake Osceola then rides through the channels that connect the lakes.
On the day of my trip, I could distincly hear two hoot owls calling to each other from somewhere overhead. Suddenly, a rush of wings flew above me – it was an owl! It swooped up to a high branch in an old oak tree and landed next to it’s partner. I zoomed in with my new camera to catch these two up close.
What a magical surprise – a mated pair of Barred owls ! It was abeautiful afternoon well spent in Winter Park.
The City of Sanford’s central downtown is undergoing a healthy re-development. One benefit being the surge of new eateries that are re-claiming many of the forgotten brick-front buildings. The process of creating the new out of the old has opened up creative experiences for visitors to explore. The Old Sanford Jailhouse is one such establishment (website).
The Jailhouse presents as an upscale restaurant, one where you are enclosed by weathered brick walls and iron grates, are gently lit by cut crystal chandeliers, and welcomed by a casual but well-appointed menu (view menu).
Rustic architectural details allow diners to engage with the building’s storied past.
The building’s successful transformation was the determination of The Sirica Family, owners of The Old Jailhouse. Their well-planned design and their dedication to preserving the original architecture kept the initial intent of the building intact, earning them the Historic Preservation Award by the Sanford Historic Trust.
We visited The Old Jailhouse for dinner on a Wednesday evening. Streetside parking and seating were plentiful.
After dinner, we headed out on foot a few blocks down to the marina (website).
We took in the view and were greeted by sailboats, houseboats, and even a steamboat (website).
We closed the day under the swaying palms at Veteran’s Park (website).
Even though the evening started out in jail, this ordinary Wednesday night turned out to be another day well spent in Florida.