Growing up in Winter Park, I loved hanging out downtown. Window shopping, eating at the cute little bistros, and strolling the picturesque streets were my favorite things to do with friends in high school. I may have also taken one or two (… or twenty) dips in the fountains in Central Park after dark, but who’s keeping track? Aside from walking around Park Avenue and Rollins College, the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is one of the best ways to see the town. I recently went on a tour with Graham and my grandpa and we had such a great time!
The 45 minute tour that’s been around since the 1930s takes you through three of Winter Park’s chain of lakes via canals that run between them. The canals are narrow, often just wide enough for the pontoon boats to pass through, but the locals know the schedule and allow the Boat Tour’s boats to carry on their tours without any problem.
One of the best parts about the Boat Tour is seeing all the crazy awesome houses (aka places I’ll never be able to live in, but a girl can dream!). Several of them are or have been owned by celebrities and the tour guides point them out as you sail. My favorite was Mr. Rogers’ house (the brick home in the first picture below)! Yes, Winter Park was actually Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood – he went to Rollins College and owned this gorgeous home.
You’ll likely catch some native wildlife on your ride. We saw several types of birds, but fortunately no alligators.
Graham got a little antsy toward the end of the tour, but it wasn’t anything a little distraction couldn’t fix!
- Recommended Ages: All!
- Cost: $14 for adults, $7 for children 2-11. Children under 2 are free. They ONLY accept cash or checks, so make sure you have some handy!
- Hours: The first tour leaves at 10 AM and there are tours on the hour, with the last tour of the day at 4 PM. They run tours every day except Christmas!
- Make sure you wear sunscreen and bring a hat. The canals have tree-cover, but you’ll be on the open lakes for much of your tour and 45 minutes is a long time without sun protection.
- Get there at least 15 minutes before the tour you want to go on begins to leave yourself time in case there’s a line to pay or you have a child who needs to get into a life vest.
- State law requires that children wear life vests on boats at all times. The company provides life vests for everyone, but if your little one has never worn one you may want to have him/her try it on before you decide to go. It wouldn’t be fun to get all the way out on the water and realize that Junior hates it.
Hope you get a chance to enjoy this historic treasure soon!