Winter Park Playhouse logoCentral Florida’s only professional musical theater is nestled right here in our neighboring City of Winter Park, Florida. The Winter Park Playhouse is a hidden gem that’s been delighting audiences for over 20 years. If you’re searching for a place where the magic of live theater meets the joy of music, look no further. This cozy playhouse has a rich history of bringing toe-tapping tunes and heartwarming stories to life, and the 2023-24 Mainstage Musical series promises to be a musical extravaganza like no other. It’s one of the top things our guests like to do when staying at Thurston House, our Orlando area bed and breakfast.

A Glimpse into History

Founded in 2002 by Roy Alan and Heather Alexander, the Winter Park Playhouse has become a beloved institution in Central Florida. This intimate, 123-seat theater, with its comfortable seating and friendly atmosphere, offers an up-close and personal experience that’s perfect for musical enthusiasts of all ages.

Over the years, the Playhouse has progressively broadened its reach, and today, the Playhouse presents six main stage musical productions, monthly cabarets, quarterly special events, the Florida Festival of New Musicals, and numerous community outreach programs each season.

Affiliated with Actors’ Equity Association, the professional union of actors and stage managers, Winter Park Playhouse maintains high artistic standards and proudly employs professional actors, musicians and technicians. Offering a diverse range of shows, from classic Broadway hits to lesser-known gems, all while showcasing the immense talent of local and visiting performers, the Playhouse is not just a theater; it’s a place where memories are made and musical dreams come true.

2023-24 Mainstage Series Schedule

If you like musical theater, discover the Winter Park Playhouse and prepare to be entertained, moved, and thoroughly enchanted by their exciting lineup of shows. Whether you’re a seasoned theatergoer or a newbie looking for a great night out, there’s something for everyone. While there are a variety of other great series, here are highlights from the 2023-24 Mainstage Series:

“Ruthless” September 22-October 15, 2023~Judy, a naive 1950s housewife, and her adorable 8-year-old daughter, Tina, will do ANYTHING to get the lead role in her school play “including murdering the leading lady!” This fun spoof has its twists, turns and killer laughs!

Christmas show with Tony Bennett picture“A Swingin’ Christmas: The Holiday Music of Tony Bennett” November 10-December 16, 2023~Ring in the holidays with this unforgettable evening of quintessential Tony Bennett songs! Featuring eighteen classic holiday tunes plus the standards that made Bennett famous, like his signature “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Grab your friends and family and celebrate the season Tony Bennett style! (WPP)

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” January 19 – February 17, 2024~ This nostalgic musical comedy celebrates the timeless songwriting of the legendary Neil Sedaka! Set at a Catskills resort in 1960, this humorous and heartwarming musical follows two friends from Brooklyn in search of good times and romance over one wild Labor Day weekend. Featuring twenty of Sedaka’s most popular songs.

“Five Guys Named Moe” March 15 – April 20, 2024~A high-energy Broadway musical set to Louis Jordan’s iconic rhythm and blues/jazz score! After Nomax’s world is turned upside down, he finds comfort and joy through five guys named Moe, stepping out through his radio! With dozens of whimsical hit songs, this musical fantasy delivers exuberant entertainment!

“George M. Cohan Tonight!” May 10 – June 9, 2024~ Meet “The Yankee Doodle Boy” himself in this high-energy, one-man journey through the life, music, and artistry of this legendary entertainer. This off-Broadway musical features a plethora of tap dancing and hit songs including “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “Over There,” and “You’re A Grand Old Flag.”

Make it a Weekend Theater Getaway!

Winter Park Playhouse Musical Theater from entranceDon’t miss out on these fantastic shows during the Winter Park Playhouse’s 2023-24 season. With only 123 seats, shows sell out fast! Here’s an idea…make it a weekend getaway! Thurston House is just a quick 10-minute drive to the Playhouse.

Check out our specials on our website. We offer a theater package from time to time with special ticket prices! That makes things simple! After checking in to our historic Central Florida B&B, you can head out to the theater (with many dining options nearby). It’s a lineup filled with diverse musical experiences (and cozy accommodations) that promise to entertain and enchant! We can’t wait to see you!



📅 Date: October 7-8, 2023 📍 Location: Central Park, Winter Park, Florida

Are you an Art Enthusiast? Mark your calendar and get ready to immerse yourself in a world of creativity and inspiration at the 2023 Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, the only juried fine art festival exclusively featuring Florida artists. This spectacular event promises to be a celebration of Florida’s rich artistic talent, and you simply can’t afford to miss it!

Picture a crisp autumn weekend (we can dream) in the charming city of Winter Park, where the lush foliage provides a breathtaking backdrop to the exceptional talents of Florida’s most gifted artists. Whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or just looking for a delightful way to spend your weekend, this festival has something for everyone.

Winter Park Autumn Art Festival booth with paintings and patrons.


Stroll through the picturesque Central Park, located along the historic Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park, where vibrant colors and intricate designs will adorn the booths of 186 Florida artists chosen this year. From stunning paintings and sculptures to unique ceramics and handcrafted jewelry, you’ll discover a treasure trove of artistic expressions that capture the essence of our Sunshine State.

As you explore the festival, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with the artists themselves, gaining insight into their creative process and the stories behind their works. It’s a chance to connect with the creators, forging a deeper appreciation for the art that surrounds us.


Winter Park Autumn Art Festival logo with captial letters AAFThe Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, celebrating Florida artists, isn’t just about visual art; it’s a multi-sensory experience. You’ll savor delicious culinary delights from over a dozen local food vendors while enjoying live music that sets the perfect ambiance for your day. There’s a great line-up of entertainment on the main stage from 9AM-5PM each day.

And for our younger art enthusiasts, there are engaging activities to nurture their own budding creativity. The Crealde School of Art will hold workshops for kids in the Children’s Tent both days.

This year, we invite you to become a part of a vibrant artistic community, where talent meets passion, and creativity knows no bounds. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate the rich tapestry of Florida’s artistic scene at the 2023 Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, October 7-8, hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Need a home base for the weekend? Thurston House, our historic bed & breakfast, is just 5 minutes from all the fun in Winter Park. We look forward to welcoming you with open arms and open hearts! Save the date and let the art adventure begin! 🍂🎨



Art & History Museum Maitland white stucco buildings with pond in forefront

Where can retirees find museums with great art and rich history when traveling to Central Florida? Here’s one to consider! Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Sybelia in Maitland, just north of Orlando, the Art & History Museums Maitland (A&H) is a cultural treasure waiting to be explored. Steeped in history and brimming with artistic wonders, this institution is a must-visit destination for retirees and art enthusiasts alike when vacationing in Central Florida. And, lucky for you, it’s just a quick five-minute jaunt from Thurston House, our historic B&B.


The Art & History Museums Maitland boasts a rich history dating back to the 1930s when J. Andre’ Smith established the “Research Studio” as a haven for artists and historians. He envisioned a place where art and history converged, and his dream came to fruition when the Maitland Art Center was opened.

Did you know? The Maitland Art Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeastern United States. Its unique architecture alone is worth the visit.

Today, the A&H is a dynamic cultural institution comprising five museums and historic properties. These include the Maitland Art Center, Maitland Historical Museum, Waterhouse Residence Museum, Telephone Museum, and Carpentry Shop Museum. Each site offers a distinct glimpse into the region’s art and history, creating a comprehensive experience for visitors.


Retirees looking for art and history, in particular, will find the A&H to be an enriching and leisurely destination. Here are some reasons why:

  • Artistic Inspiration: The A&H hosts rotating exhibitions that showcase the works of local and international artists. Immerse yourself in the beauty of contemporary and historical art.
  • Historical Insights: The historical museums provide a fascinating journey through time, offering a chance to delve into the history of Maitland and the broader region of Orange County. In a short afternoon, you can gain a deeper understanding of the community near Orlando that has been home to so many through the years.
  • Cultural Engagement: The A&H Maitland Art Center regularly hosts events, workshops, and lectures, making it a vibrant hub for cultural engagement. One can easily participate in art classes, attend lectures, or simply relax in the serene gardens.
  • Peaceful Surroundings: The A&H’s tranquil setting is perfect for anyone seeking a peaceful escape. Strolling through lush gardens or enjoying the serene lakeside views can provide a sense of relaxation and restoration.

Art & History Museum Maitland orange logoDon’t miss out on the Art & History Museum Maitland for a unique opportunity to blend appreciation for art and history while enjoying the beauty of Florida’s landscapes. With its rich history, diverse exhibits, and serene ambiance, it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered and cherished by those seeking cultural enrichment and relaxation. Reserve a few days at Thurston House, our 1885 built bed & breakfast, and let us be your restful haven during your Central Florida adventures. We’ll take good care of you!





Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

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Saturday, September 9, 2023

Get ready for  an amazing evening of jazz, blues and a little bit of everything in between from some of the most popular bands in Central Florida. Pack a picnic of your favorite foods and bring seating, alcohol is permitted.  

Concert Map

How it works: 3 bands in 3 locations in the 50-acre gardens. Bring chairs or blanket and sit wherever you like on any lawn area or find a nice spot in a gazebo. Stroll around to the bands and enjoy the gardens. Tickets are only available online, not sold at Leu Gardens. The gardens will open at 6:30 p.m. for guests with tickets. 

Presented By: Harry P. Leu Gardens

Dates: September 9, 2023

Price: $20-30

Time: 7 p.m.




Orlando Museum of Art

2416 North Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

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Through interactive tours of the Museum’s exhibitions, Art’s the Spark gives those living with memory impairment, or any other neurological impairment, such as early stage Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, and their healthy caregivers a fun experience, an expressive outlet and an opportunity for adult discussions. The program strives to provide a rich and satisfying experience for all participants. FREE, pre-registration is required. Please call 407.896.4231 ext. 262 or email to register.

Dates: 9/2/2023, 10/7/2023

Price: Free

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.



Hard Rock Cafe & Live Orlando

6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

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Classic Albums Live: Queen’s ‘A Night at the Opera’ comes to Hard Rock Live Orlando.

Presented By: Hard Rock Cafe & Live Orlando

Dates: September 2, 2023

Price: $21 – $36

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.



Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts

1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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The Maitland Stage Band is supported by PAM (Performing Arts Matter). This 16-piece big band performs modern arrangements, as well as hits from the legends of the big band era. They have played all over Central Florida under direction of trumpeter Rick Ingoglia.

Dates: September 2, 2023

Price: $25

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.



Lake Baldwin Park 4990 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814

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This Summer, you’re invited to RUN WILD with Conservation Florida! Join us on Saturday, September 2, 2023 at our annual Wild Florida 5k at Lake Baldwin Park in Orlando, Florida! The run supports our mission to save natural and agricultural landscapes for future generations. Participants will receive a branded 5k t-shirt, medal, and lots of good vibes knowing they are saving land and creating a healthier future for Florida! After the 5k, join Team Conservation Florida for light refreshments and conservation conversations.

Dates: September 2, 2023

Price: $45

Time: 8 a.m.



1 Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando, FL 32805

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The Florida State Seminoles and LSU Tigers will face off in Orlando to open their 2023 seasons. The 2023 game is the fourth in a multi-year agreement between Florida Citrus Sports and ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, to host a major neutral-site college football game in Camping World Stadium during the opening weekend of the college football season.

Dates: September 3, 2023

Price: Varies

Time: 7 p.m.



Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts

1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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John Redfield is an innovative, virtuosic pianist. His rapid-fire playing technique is dazzling, but he also plays melodically and with sensitivity. In John’s playing you can hear the influences of masters like Oscar Peterson and Wynton Kelly, and also stride piano legends like Art Tatum. John will be joined by Doug Mathews on bass and Walt Hubbard on drums for a concert featuring jazz standards and John’s original compositions.

Dates: September 6, 2023

Price: $20

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.



Orlando Shakes

812 East Rollins Street, Orlando, FL 32803

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Set during the revelries of Mardi Gras and featuring New Orleans Jazz, Zydeco and Delta Blues music, Shakespeare’s non-stop hilarious farce of love, mistaken identity, and two sets of twins separated as babies – gets swept up in the carnival celebrations. Bring your Mardi Gras beads and let the good times roll!

Presented By: Orlando Shakes

Dates: September 6, 2023 – October 1, 2023

Recurrence: Recurring weekly on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

Price: Varies

Time: Varies by Date





The Abbey

100 S Eola Dr, Orlando, FL 32801

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Candlelight concerts bring the magic of a live, multi-sensory musical experience to awe-inspiring locations like never seen before in Orlando. Get your tickets now to discover the music of Taylor Swift at The Abbey under the gentle glow of candlelight.

Dates: 9/7/2023, 11/30/2023

Price: $35 – $55

Time: 6:30 p.m. & 9 p.m.



1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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Join us for the Blue Bamboo Jazz Festival 2023! Four concert events September 14th-17th. This kickoff concert will feature Chris Cortez and Friends in the first set, and the Alain Bradette Quartet in the second set. Admission is free for this event, but reservations are strongly suggested. To purchase tickets for all 4 events at a 20% discount, please call Melody Cortez at 407-636-9951.

The Blue Bamboo Jazz Festival 2023 is sponsored in part by United Arts of Central Florida and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Dates: September 14, 2023

Price: Free

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.



Festival Park

2911 E Robinson St, Orlando, FL 32803

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The International Food and Drink Festival 2023 at Downtown Orlando is back! Enjoy the best restaurants from Central Florida, exotic drinks, food eating contests, giveaways and more!

Dates: Sunday, September 17, 2023

Price: Free

Time: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.



400 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

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Continuing its mission to use creative media as a catalyst to inspire and educate people to initiate positive change in their local communities and worldwide, the Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) celebrates its 21st anniversary this year.

The Festival’s opening night film to be screened at Enzian Theater on Tuesday, September 19 at 6 p.m. is The League, a film that celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the twentieth century. A complete list of films can be found online at

Dates: September 19, 2023 – September 23, 2023

Recurrence: Recurring daily

Price: Varies

Time: Varies



Maitland Public Library,501 Maitland Avenue South, Maitland, FL 32751

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Join Amy as she demonstrates how to make some quick and easy Italian meals. Space is limited for this class and registration is required. Ages 14 and up. RSVP on our website beginning September 1st.

Dates: September 19, 2023

Price: Free

Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.



The Winter Park Playhouse, 711 North Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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Ruthless! September 22 – October 15, 2023

Previews: Sep. 21 at 7:30pm & Sep. 22 at 2:00pm

This outrageous hit musical comedy garnered rave reviews during its long Off-Broadway run.  Meet Judy, a naive 1950s housewife, and her adorable but sociopath 8-year-old daughter Tina.  Encouraged by her manager, Sylvia, Tina will do ANYTHING to get the lead role in her school play “including murdering the leading lady!”  This fun spoof has its twists, turns and killer laughs!  “A wonderfully smart and funny send-up of every Broadway brat… loaded with campy with and charm.” –Variety.  Book & Lyrics by Joel Paley / Music by Marvin Laird

Presented By: The Winter Park Playhouse

Dates: 9/21/2023, 9/22/2023, 9/23/2023, 9/28/2023, 9/29/2023, 9/30/2023, 10/1/2023

Price: $20 – $46

Time: Varies by Date




Amway Center, 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801

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The Orlando Salsa Festival is coming to Amway Center on September 22, featuring the legendary Willie Colón and El Gran Combo! Prepare to dance the night away to the electrifying rhythms of salsa and experience a once-in-a-lifetime concert event.

Dates: September 22, 2023

Price: Varies

Time: 8 p.m.




Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts

1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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Terry Myers is pleased to present the talented and dynamic vocalist Jaimie Roberts! This afternoon will feature jazz standards alongside a selection of Jaimie’s popular material, cabaret numbers, and fresh new songs and surprises! Jaime is a multi-faceted vocalist and comedienne, who has worked professionally in the Central Florida area for many years. Her repertoire is extensive, and performs across all genres from Big Band jazz, comedy and parody songs, Country, Broadway, and more. If you are not already a fan, prepare to fall in love with Jaimie’s larger-than-life stage presence!

The Terry Myers Quintet is: Terry Myers – saxophone, Jaime Roberts – vocals, Randy Morris – piano, Jay Mueller – bass, and Paul Parker – drums.

Terry has had a storied career in Central Florida, including being a band leader at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, the band leader at Rosie O’Grady’s Good Time Jazz Emporium, and as an original member of Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band. Terry is the director of the famed Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and has appeared at many jazz festivals across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Dates: September 24, 2023

Price: $20 – $35

Time: 3 – 5 p.m.




Harry P. Leu Gardens 1920 North Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

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Gather the entire family for a fun, family-friendly Halloween adventure throughout Orlando’s Leu Gardens featuring exciting immersive worlds, live characters, food and trick-or-treating.

Presented By: Creative City Project

Dates: Begins Sept. 29, 2023




USTA National Campus 10000 USTA Blvd, Orlando, FL 32827

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This completely vegan festival will have over 60 vegan vendors including local businesses and special guests from out of town. You can expect live music, speakers, dance classes, yoga classes and other entertainment all free. This is a family and pet friendly event where all are welcome.

Dates: September 30, 2023

Price: Free

Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.




Lake Nona, 6900 Tavistock Lakes Blvd, Orlando, FL 32827

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Oktoberfest is returning on Saturday, September 30 at Lake Nona Town Center with live music, German food from Park Pizza, German themed entertainment, photo-ops, games, and our annual Stein Hoisting competition. This event is free and open to the public, no ticket needed!

Presented By: Lake Nona

Dates: September 30, 2023

Price: Free

Time: 4 – 10 p.m.




Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts

1905 Kentucky Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

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Dates: September 30, 2023

Price: $20 – $35

Time: 8 – 10 p.m.



Orlando Museum of Art

2416 North Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

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When you see a painting, what do you feel? When you look at a photograph, what memories surface? Tap into your creativity with the use of paintings, photographs, and objects as award-winning writer Elaine Person prompts you to write original stories, poems, and essays. Learn writing tools and techniques. Different genres of writing and reflection will be discussed.

Dates: September 30, 2023

Price: Members $27, Non-members $30

Time: 1 – 3 p.m.






Looking for an outdoor adventure during your getaway to Central Florida? Florida State Parks proudly call themselves “…the Real Florida,” and Blue Spring State Park is the crown jewel of Central Florida. Lucky for you, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Thurston House Bed & Breakfast in Maitland.

A wide variety of outdoor recreation is readily available here in Central Florida—birding, hiking, lakes, swimming, paddling and more. According to Visit Central Florida, the region touts over 550 bodies of water, but the refreshing 72-degree waters of Blue Spring, along the St. Johns River, delights visitors year round. Blue Spring is considered a “first-magnitude” spring, discharging over 70 million gallons of water daily into the St. Johns River.

For hundreds of years, the Timacuan Indians made the spring area their home. The spring run, river, and surrounding swamps and uplands, provided food, clothing, shelter and materials for tools and weapons. First journaled in the 1700s, it later became a hub of community life when Louis Thursby built a house nearby in 1872. “Blue Spring Landing,” was a busy port for steamboats transporting tourists and goods to Jacksonville and beyond, before the railroad came through.  A century later, a Jacques Cousteau documentary, called “The Forgotten Mermaids,” was filmed there showing Blue Spring as a winter refuge for hundreds of manatee each year. Eventually, the State purchased the land in order to preserve this treasure.

Blue Spring State Park is spread over 2,643 acres within which are 21 natural communities, including 2 lagoons, a north-flowing river, and a first-magnitude spring. This diversity of habitats allows for a vast diversity of flora and fauna. In addition to more than 300 West Indian manatee each winter, Blue Spring is the habitat for at least 15 threatened or endangered plants and animals. On a guided hike or boat tour, keep an eye out for gopher tortoise, Florida scrub jay, herons, sunfish, alligator, osprey and a slew of other wildlife.


looking down on lagoon with paddlers and kayakersBlue Spring State Park offers as much diversity of fun as it does nature. A self-guided boardwalk leads visitors through a lush hammock to Blue Spring. An observation platform provides a view of the endangered manatees which leave the colder waters of the St. Johns River for the safety and comfort of the 72-degree spring—primarily from November through March. Visitors can also swim, tube, snorkel, dive, and kayak in the perfectly refreshing water, even in summertime. Three pavilions offer areas to picnic, barbeque or sunbathe, and there are numerous trails for biking, walking and hiking. There are also boat ramps and camp sites.

For the ultimate Blue Spring experience, why not scout for that illusive Florida scrub jay while a professional nature guide pilots the boat down the St. Johns River narrating the history and beauty of your surroundings? Thurston House offers a river cruise package with food, drinks and all the supplies you’ll need for a carefree adventure in nature. Grab your binoculars or camera and board a covered pontoon for a two-hour narrated cruise. St. Johns River Cruises has become the latest Florida eco-tour provider to successfully complete the Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism’s rigorous certification program and was awarded the prestigious Platinum Level Certification for meeting over 90% of the bonus criteria on the society’s checklist. You’ll discover the secrets of Blue Spring aided by the trained eyes of your guide. You’re in good hands!

For a real “up-close-and-personal” adventure, choose a 2-hour guided kayak tour with an experienced river guide. These small group tours of up to 10 people allow for more specialized attention to guests and a closer look at breathtaking wildlife.

blue and white bird, Florida scrub jayFISHING, BIRDING, DIVING, AND HIKING AT BLUE SPRING

Looking to get some fishing in? Great idea! Bring your fishing supplies and fish from the dock on the St. Johns River. Popular catches include flounder, snook, redfish, catfish, bass, bluegill, and crappie. Be sure to pick up a Florida fishing license before heading to the park.

For bird enthusiasts, Blue Spring State Park is on the Great Florida Birding Trail. A great spot to see native and migrating birds! The protected Florida scrub jay, the only bird species that exclusively lives in Florida, nests among the low growing oak scrub and flatwoods inside the park. Visitors can often hear their singing while hiking the Pine Island Trail.

Diving is allowed in Blue Spring Park, except from November through March when manatees are present. Certified divers can now enjoy Blue Spring and all of its underwater habitats. Divers must show proof of certification and have a dive partner. Only those certified in cave diving will be allowed into those underwater structures. Florida Dive Company offers a guided underwater discovery tour. For more information, call 386-663-8030.

You’d rather walk or hike? There are a couple of noteworthy trails at Blue Spring State Park just for you. Pine Island Trail is a moderate 5-mile trail that travels through the sand pine scrub, flatwoods, freshwater marsh and out to St. Johns River. Blue Spring Boardwalk Trail is an easy 1-mile trail along the wooden boardwalk that runs parallel to Blue Spring Run. Viewing decks are located along the path to showcase the manatees, sea turtles and other sea life. Picnic tables and a concession are located in the middle.


pontoon boat on lake at Blue SpringBlue Spring State Park is located about 30 minutes north of Thurston House, at 2100 W. French Ave, Orange City, Florida. Getting to the park from our Orlando-area bed and breakfast is easy. Head north on I-4, then take Hwy 17-92 to Orange City. The Park entrance is a few miles west on French Avenue. The park is open daily and river cruises depart twice a day at 10 am and 1 pm. Learn more about Blue Spring State Park online at

Thurston House, our historic bed and breakfast near Orlando, is here to help you make the most of your Central Florida adventures! Add our Nature Lover’s River Cruise Package when booking your accommodations, for a stress-free nature adventure. We’ve got you covered with a picnic lunch, drinks, and sunscreen—even binoculars for getting a better look at that blue heron in the marsh!

Even if you’re one who prefers to go it alone, let us know if we can assist with gear rental, directions, or suggestions for your day’s itinerary. Thurston House is here to help you have a fabulous Central Florida vacation!



wall art in lobby

If you’re an art lover and exploring art in the Orlando area, you’ll definitely want to include the Rollins Museum of Art on your itinerary. The museum, located on the Rollins College campus in Winter Park, is a hidden gem with more than 5600 works in its collection.

Central Florida attracts many adventurers looking for art, culture and entertainment. If you are one, numerous art collections are worthy of your attention, including the Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Museum of Art, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, to name a few.

The Rollins Museum of Art ranks high among this list featuring rotating exhibitions, ongoing programs, and an extensive permanent collection that spans centuries. Its holdings include a sizable American art collection and the only European Old Master paintings in the Orlando area. Fortunately, for guests of Thurston House, these discoveries are all within a few miles of the inn.

group sitting at table looking at artwork

The museum’s mission is to be “a teaching museum that stimulates transformative encounters with works of art while integrating art learning into daily life for campus and community.”

With education at its core, RMA, the only campus art museum in the greater Orlando area, offers numerous programs that allow visitors to engage with art, not just view it. Programs are designed for K-12 and college students as well as adults and families in the Central Florida area. There are docent-led tours, workshops, films, and hands-on activities available on an ongoing basis.


Rollins Art Museum was one of Florida’s first college museums to be accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1981, and it continues as one of only four AAM-accredited museums in the greater Orlando area. With committed support of the College and its friends, the Museum will dramatically expand the scope of its influence in the next few years when it breaks ground on a contemporary 30,000 square-foot future home. This $25 million project will offer the museum the much-needed space to curate its rapidly-growing collection and expand its outreach and teaching programs.


wall with art displayed

Visitors to the museum will discover a broad range of media, periods and styles. Exhibits include its permanent, but rapidly-growing, collection of more than 5600 works and its limited seasonal exhibitions. Collection strengths lie in European, American, and contemporary art from the Renaissance to today.

Rollins Museum of Art in Winter Park offers docent-led museum tours on Saturday afternoons at 1:00 & 3:00 PM. These tours highlight works from their current exhibitions.

The museum is open to the public year round (except Mondays and a few holidays) and admission is free thanks to RMA members. Be sure to stop by the Museum Shop which helps support the Rollins Museum of Art.


front of art building

The Rollins Museum of Art is located on the Rollins College campus in the city of Winter Park at the east end of Holt Ave. There are a limited number of designated museum visitor parking spaces adjacent to the Museum on Holt Ave. Free parking is also available at the Truist Parking Garage at Lyman Avenue with a validated ticket from the Museum and at the Rollins Parking Garage, located at the corner of Fairbanks and Ollie Avenues.

The heart of the Rollins College area in Winter Park is home to a symphony of experiences to enjoy. Within a mile’s radius, you can take in the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum to name a few. The area is also home to the well-appointed Park Avenue with its cozy cafes, luxurious shops, fine art galleries, and popular restaurants.

Spend the day indulging in art and exploring the Orlando area before heading back to your quiet room at Thurston House. You might even have time to sneak in a nap in the hammock before your local dinner reservation. It doesn’t get better than this!

Visit Rollins Museum of Art online at




Florida is known for its scenic beauty, from its multitude of lakes and white-sand beaches to the wildlife-rich everglades and tropical paradise of the Keys. So it’s no wonder that there’s a prolific artist community ready to capture this beauty, and as many tourists intent on taking pieces of it home to enjoy all year long. Many art galleries in the Central Florida area showcase our local artists. On your next stay at Thurston House Bed & Breakfast near Orlando, visit these three art galleries near Orlando Winter Park FL to check out their collected beauties.


THE GALLERY 32789, 515 N. PARK AVE, STE 114, WINTER PARK, FL 32789

The Gallery 32789 is set in downtown Winter Park near the Morse Museum in Brandywine Square, steps from Central Park and its fine dining, upscale shops, and world-renowned museums. Representing professional artists who work in oil, acrylic and mixed-media paintings, sculpture, jewelry, clay and photography, The Gallery 32789 hosts monthly by-invitation-only art events.


scene storefronts along park avenue winter parkPARK AVENUE CONTEMPORARY ART, 348 S. PARK AVE, WINTER PARK, FL 32789

After finding a cozy lunch spot along the avenue, be sure to stop in at Park Avenue Contemporary Art, featuring contemporary artwork from over 25 Florida and national artists. Founded by Denise Autorino, an avid 20-year art collector, the gallery opened at the Park Plaza Hotel in 2020. Its new location on Park Avenue offers generous space for larger paintings, sculptures, artist talks, events and more.



Another art gallery near Orlando Winter Park caters to lovers of fine art. Steltenkamp Fine Art offers a private gallery in an historic second floor setting overlooking downtown Winter Park. Bill and MaryAnn invite you to appreciate art in a new way in a sophisticated, but casual venue. They feature unique pieces from a variety of genres and countries. Whether you are a novice or seasoned collector, you will find something of interest. Ask the Steltenkamps about upcoming art lectures and private artist exhibitions when you visit.


Spend the day soaking up art galleries near Orlando Winter Park FL. then head back to your comfy room at Thurston House. You might even have time for a nap in the hammock on the sleeping porch before venturing out to a fabulous dinner. Ah…life is good!



Farmers’ Markets Near Orlando: Three You Must Visit

FARMERS’ MARKETS NEAR ORLANDO: 3 YOU MUST VISITbrown bag with purchase at market

With a growing number of Floridians interested in locally-sourced ingredients and organically grown produce, Central Florida’s farm market scene is especially vibrant. With Florida’s temperate climate, guests of Thurston House, our Orlando area bed and breakfast, can visit several local farmers’ markets year round. On any given weekend, you could find 20 markets within a half-hour drive of the inn.  Here’s three you must explore that are just a few quick minutes away.

Florida farmers’ markets are a great showcase of local products because many markets stipulate that vendors grow, make, or process the ingredients in the products they sell. This means the honey, fruit, bread, herbs, or jam you buy is likely from Florida. And most are as fresh as a few days old. Also, farm stands are usually represented by the farmer or the farm workers, meaning you can ask questions firsthand about how the food was grown or made.

chicken pot pies being sold at market


In particular, the Winter Park Saturday Farmers’ Market is the number one produce and plant market in Central Florida. Every Saturday morning from, over 50 vendors gather to sell their fresh produce, plants, baked goods and more. Mason, of Winter Park Urban Farms, is one of our favorite farmers, cultivating gardens in back yards around town and offering seasonal produce harvested just the day before market. Set up in the Central Park West Meadow, across from the old train depot, the Winter Park Saturday Farmers’ Market is a popular gathering place for locals, and their dogs, on the weekends.


On Sunday mornings, the Maitland Farmers’ Market is a fun place to spend a few hours. Located in downtown Maitland on Independence Lane, nearly 25 vendors are excited to greet you. Shop fresh produce and fruit, plants and flowers, crafts, food, and more. Get a croissant or made-to-order crepe from Chez Vincent Bakery before stepping across to Blessed Bean Coffee for a fresh cup of java. There’s live music provided courtesy of Performing Arts Matters and kids always enjoy inflatable slides and games in the park.


The proximity of our Central Florida B&B to Orlando makes it an easy 10-minute drive south to another local market on Sundays. The Orlando Farmers’ Market, in its 35th year, is held at Lake Eola Park near Downtown Orlando, every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. More than a traditional farmers’ market, you will also find crafts, gifts, wine and jewelry in addition to fresh produce and baked goods. Always family friendly, take the kids and dogs for a great afternoon on the banks of Lake Eola.

Here’s a list of other Central Florida markets to explore if time permits: “Top 10 Farmer’s Markets in Central Florida”   You’re sure to find a tasty snack or the perfect souvenir at one of these Orlando-area Farmers’ Markets when you stay at Thurston House Bed & Breakfast near Orlando.



Who says you can’t vacation in Central Florida in the summertime?

Summer is the perfect time to explore Orlando’s numerous museums—inside luxuriously air-conditioned surroundings. Make Thurston House Bed & Breakfast your home-away-from-home for a few days while you discover art, history, and theater—all less than five miles away.

Thurston House is set on eight park-like acres in Maitland, just north of Orlando’s city limits. Built in 1885, this Queen-Anne Victorian has its own story to tell, with gleaming pine woodwork in relaxing parlors and modern hotel comforts in our three unique guest rooms. Set your personal room thermostat as cool as you’d like!

What to Do to Stay Cool in Central Florida Summers

Once you’ve settled into your Thurston House home-away-from-home, head over to the largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, held by the Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park. Browse the Museum Shop where you just might find Tiffany-designed jewelry you can’t live without! Then, step outside for just a moment to discover one of dozens of cool bistros or bars for lunch or dinner.

The Orlando area boasts many other art venues where you can continue your cool end-of-summer getaway. The Rollins Museum of Art, also in Winter Park, is featuring several new exhibitions running throughout the summer. A short mile’s drive to Loch Haven Cultural Park (Orlando) is the Orlando Museum of Art, and it’s large permanent contemporary collection.

The intimate Mennello Museum of American Art, also in Loch Haven Park, primarily displays the permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham. As you approach, don’t miss the 350-year-old sprawling live oak tree draped with Spanish moss called “The Mayor” in the Mennello Sculpture Gardens. Art’s not your thing? Stay cool at the Orlando Science Center or the Orlando Fire Museum …yes, also in Loch Haven Park.

Perhaps you’d like to beat the heat with some dramatic entertainment in a cool theater setting. We have that too! The Orlando Shakespeare Theater is only a few miles from Thurston House, and the Winter Park Playhouse is even closer. In August, the Playhouse opens Two for Murder, a new production combining “classic musical comedy and madcap mystery.” This should be fun!

Front of theater for end-of-summer getaway near Orlando

Last but not least…Enzian Theater, right here in Maitland, is another fabulous strategy for a cool getaway during the last hot days of summer. Enzian is a single-screen cinema café and prides itself on being Central Florida’s only alternative cinema offering independent, foreign, and classic films.

Who says you have to stay home to endure Central Florida’s summer heat? Summer won’t last forever…check availability now!