445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, (407) 645-5311, morsemuseum.org
Relatively modest in its exterior, inside, the Morse is filled with objects that fully demonstrate artist-designer Louis Comfort Tiffany’s lifelong “quest of beauty.” (It holds the most comprehensive collection of his work in the world, and we have founder Jeanette Genius McKean and her husband, Hugh, to thank for that.)
Galleries feature iridescent vases, tiles and plates glowing with colors that change depending on the angle you view them from; jewelry from the early 1900s created of precious stones and metals; lamps and lighting from Tiffany and his contemporaries; and a fascinating section retracing Tiffany’s personal history.
Absorb the way he lived while ooh-ing and aah-ing at the partial reconstruction of certain rooms of his lost Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, destroyed by fire in 1957.
The artifacts at the Morse suggest his grand vision for the 84-room mansion.
Aside from the museum, historic Winter Park boasts antique shops, jewelry stores, clothing boutiques and restaurants along shaded, Spanish-influenced Park Avenue, leading to the park itself near the passenger train station.
9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
Approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes
$6 adults, $5 age 60 and up, $1 student, under 12 free
Of course, the reassembled Byzantine-Romanesque Tiffany chapel interior, created for Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Individual pieces include a gloriously colored “electrolier” hanging from the ceiling, a baptismal font and leaded-glass windows depicting events from the New Testament. Meditate on the beauty of it all while sitting in one of the two originals of the four benches provided for visitors.
If you can make it to Winter Park the week leading up to Christmas, you will receive free admission and enjoy live music Dec. 22, 23 and 24 from noon to 3 p.m. Appointments required and limited.
A tote bag with a stained-glass window design, a flower-bedecked internet address and password logbook, reusable luminary lanterns and simply adorable baby “fur” shoes.
We ducked into George’s Café (505 N. Park Ave., Suite 109), a longtime tenant at a shopping arcade just steps from the museum. Along with tablecloths covered with boat anchor images, boxes of seashells on each table and other nautical décor, George’s offers a raft of sizeable, creative sandwiches and salad selections, fresh baked bread and decadent desserts where chocolate reigns supreme.