Main Street Winter Garden – Hidden Gem

I visited the “downtown” Main Street in Winter Garden, Florida on a Saturday. They have a farmers’ market and the Main Street was decked out for the holidays, looking very picturesque. Because it was Thanksgiving weekend, the shoppers were abundant – along with kids and dogs. Again – I don’t get the dogs in strollers thing. But then, I’m not a dog person 🙂

Many small cities that have a rejuvenated Main Street incorporate a theme. In Winter Garden it is the history of being a train stop. There is a train museum, train gallery, and a historic depot.  One of the storefronts has a model train set up, complete with stores and people, greenery, lights – the whole diorama. Incorporated in the display are historic photos of the train depot. Meanwhile – here is the real depot set up for visiting. Not sure if it was relocated here (the tracks run a block away) or if this is the original location. Seemed to be popular with kids and adults alike. Having grown up just blocks from the Burlington line in Chicago, I have a fondness for historic train depots. I have great memories of going downtown on the train to the big city. 

The real charm of this place is the center median, complete with walking path, gazebo for concerts, and clock pavilion. It’s all beautifully landscaped and with holiday decor is very pretty. 

Main Streets also preserve historic buildings. There is a lovely hotel, a few other brick buildings and storefronts, and my favorite is this one – Tony’s Liquors. I didn’t get the story on when it opened – though the red sign looks like the 1930s or 1940s. The building itself looks like late 1800s to early 1900s (I usually judge by the window size). Regardless, this is pure Americana and I’m glad they didn’t do away with it and instead, celebrate it! 

The Farmers’ Market was eclectic and delicious! A variety of craft booths, food stops, and fresh produce.

Historic City Hall in background

I was not in the market for any “stuff” so I hit up a vegan Puerto Rican food booth. WOW! At Boca Fresca I had a pionono empanado. I also sampled some of the other dishes – all plant based and the flavors were exceptional. Boca Fresca is a family run pop-up and they are looking to open a permanent storefront in 2019. I hope they do! Go visit them on Facebook and see where their next pop up will be. You won’t be disappointed!

I also enjoyed a fresh, raw, organic juice at – wait for it – Raw Juicing and Detox!  Great juice and I always enjoy supporting the vegan community. 

I appreciate vintage Main Streets that have not strayed too far from their original look, while incorporating the modern conveniences, expectations of retailers, and commercial requirements. That is no small task when historic buildings are involved, let alone the fickleness of the consumer public. I enjoy patronizing these places and cheer them on to continued success providing a niche for local businesses. Want to know more? Visit Main Street America and see what places around the country are doing. 

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