Friday, January 28, 2011

We Are More Than Mickey Mouse, You Know!

So many visitors to Florida either stick to the beaches or the theme parks and  miss the "real" Florida right under their noses.  Just a few scant miles from Mickey's kingdom is a small little Florida town called St. Cloud.

I grew very familiar with this sleepy (well, it used to be) little town after I met Mr. Tennis and started visiting his Gramps whose lakehouse sat on the unspoiled edge of the Alligator chain of lakes, on the outskirts of St. Cloud.

Gramps taking a dive off his dock.

 Mr. Tennis spent his 8th grade year living with Gramps and he remembers the stir and flurry of excitement the opening of a MacDonald's made in the quiet town of St. Cloud 1970s.  It was a little busier when I visited there before and after we got married, but not much.  I don't remember eating anywhere else after church, when visiting Gramps, than the Howard Johnson's by the turnpike.  It was always a treat to go out to Sunday breakfast with Gramps, but I think even he would agree that now the choices are more diverse and perhaps tastier.  But then again, Gramps wasn't going as much for the food as he was for the special attention the waitresses bestowed on their favorite patron.  One who ate there everyday....

All the years I visited Gramps in St. Cloud I had no idea there was a historical area where the original city-center for St. Cloud existed.  It wasn't until about 4 months ago when a friend took me there on a scavenger hunt for thrift stores and antique shops that I realized Gramps had been keeping a big secret from me and that there was more to this "snowbird haven" than Winn Dixie, fishing, boating, and of course, Howard Johnsons (which is sadly gone).

First of all, there are two old hotels! St. Cloud must have been quite the tourist mecca even BD (Before Disney for those not in "the know").  As I said Gramps' little lakehouse was situated on a chain of lakes and apparently the various lakes and all the recreational activities that went along with them were a large draw for visitors to the area.  We found this painted wall commemorating the old beach area and St. Cloud's heritage.

Another clever painting on a building showed the old St. Cloud Hotel.

When I panned my camera to the left, I found the St. Cloud hotel right in front of me. It now has a spa and bustling diner in it's interior.

Further along our walk amongst the many diverse and unique shops in this area we came across the "other hotel".  It's outer design has a western feel to it, but the interior was all old-time Florida.

See what I mean?

Can Mickey give you this?

Yes, that is an alligator skin.

The lobby was quite the throwback and had some contraptions that had us baffled.

Our best guess was something to do with paper - or, perhaps an industrial-strength wringer.  Any ideas?

Even the bathroom was cute.

And to the side of the lobby was a sweet parlor...

Nestled between the two wings of the Hunter Arms Hotel was a little restaurant where we had a bite for lunch, The Silver Lining Cafe. It was filled with various vintage dinette sets for seating.

They offered patio seating in warmer weather which is also situated between the two wings of the hotel.

Lovely vintage decor, wonderful food, and good friends.  What more can you ask for when you venture out and explore in your own backyard?

You know SueBee loved this lamp... so did the restaurant owner. She picked it up at an auction.  There are two in the restaurant..

Please visit  SueBee's blog  for her take on the day.  She will feature some shops and goodies that we saw while we were there.  One of the shop owners is even quite well-known, and deservedly so, in the blogosphere.

St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce.  Who knew!  I bet Gramps did!

Better yet, if you visit Central Florida to see "the mouse", take a day and see what else we have to offer!

 And stop in and see me too!

Boston Lady out!


Erika and Blair,xoxo said...

Mom visited that Mouse,and she told me I couldn't come way back in October. Too bad we didn't know you then or else I would have been a stowaway in order to come see you and Miss Darcy.

Annie @ The House That Jade Built said...

I wish I knew of this place in December! Also, I must know this - were there real gators in Gramps lakes? Jade & I have both decided that alligators are the scariest things ever. He wants to hunt them - I do not. I'm scared of snapping turtles in ponds here, but if there was a gator I'd be dying!!

Sue said...

What a great place! I love your little dog pillow. We too are known for Mickey, but thankfully, I get many tourists that stumble our way to Country Roads & Old Towne Orange!

Take care, Sue

FairfieldHouse said...

I tend to stay away from the tourist traps and take the back winding roads that lead into old towns like this. What a gem!


Chatty Crone said...

What a nice tour of St. Cloud - would love to stay there. sandie

Anonymous said...

What a cool place. We love the antique look of things and of course the boston pillow is cute too.

Angela said...

I'm glad that you finally discovered all of that fun stuff that is right there near you. I have never seen a gator hanging on the wall like that before! That is a sight to see. I'm sure you would think the same of the deer heads that people hang on their walls in WV. No, I don't have one! lol But my sister has a few! lol

Have a Great Day!

Mr. Connor said...

The unknown " thing" is I believe a clothes / sheet wringer . Used mostly in hotels and the like where there was a schedule to get a large amount of sheets / towels done all the time.
There are little gems all over this state and driving the back roads is a very good way to find them.

Marlene said...

I have to agree with ya, there is more to Fla. I love St.Cloud too. Your Gramps is so blessed to have made St. Cloud his home.

The Thuglets said...

What a great place,thank you for sharing it with us. Its so nice to see off the beaten track.

Love the Boston pillow.

Big Nose Pokes
The Thugletsx

Molly,Taffy and Monty said...

Oh this was so interesting to read. We are so happy we have found your blog.

MOlly, Taffy and Monty

Orlando Grandma said...

How did I miss all fo that.
Great job Ann.
The contration I vote on it being a wringer.

Orlando Grandma said...

How did i miss all of that. Good job Ann.I vote for some kind of a wringer

Orlando Grandma said...

How did i miss all of that. Good job Ann.I vote for some kind of a wringer

Olive Cooper said...

If we ever return to Florida this could appear on our list. Love the hotel interior. I am not a fan of theme parks at all so we do not visit for them. I thought I was following I am! Thanks bunches for visiting me so often. hugs♥olive

eggzachary said...

I have a guess on the device: It's an alligator-squisher, which explains the flattened reptiles on the walls.