When it comes to Orlando, Florida, infamous home of Disney and all things kids, there are lots of hidden grownup treasures to discover. Sure, the city of about 260,000 residents has worked tirelessly to secure its reputation as the epitome of family vacations.
But Orlando and its surrounding area have extraordinary secrets that are worth sharing. When you peel away the layers of Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell that dominate the land, that’s when you’ll find the real treats: gourmet restaurants, wine bars, luxury hotels, trendy film festivals, impressive art galleries and countless sightseeing opportunities that specifically cater to an adult crowd. Looking for somewhere new and different to visit with your honey?
Here are all the deets you need for your adult vacation in Orlando.
Where to Stay
Just minutes from Sea World, you’ll find a beautiful palm tree oasis that oozes with all things luxurious at the Grande Lakes resort. It’s also the home to two of the area’s classiest hotels, JW Marriott Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Here, opulence is an understatement. At the JW Marriott, visitors can float the day away in a heated 24,000-foot lazy river. Or enjoy an indulgent massage while soaking up the warm Florida humidity. You can then walk across the connecting bridge to the Ritz-Carlton hotel and turn up the ritz by treating yourself to a memorable spa treatment.
Whether it’s peak season or low season, you can always make room for an appointment with an expert nail technician, hair stylist or masseuse. Why not treat yourself to a customized scrub created just for you? These unique body scrubs are inspired by the traditions of Old Florida and fruity citrus notes.
Where to Eat Hungry? Want to keep things real? Make sure you drive down to 4 Rivers Smokehouse for some homestyle BBQ. This restaurant has been a local favourite for years. On the menu are classic crowd-pleasing dishes like Angus brisket, Southern pulled pork and succulent St. Louis style ribs. Finger licking is not permitted—it’s encouraged. Forget about your diet and venture into the decadent bakery. Show off your irreverent side and dive into any bazillion-calorie dessert of your fancy. No worries here. Calories are burnt off just by inhaling anyway.
Sights to See Many of the activities you’ll find to do in Orlando can be arranged through your hotel’s concierge or information desk. At the top of the do-list is a romantic boat ride in historic Winter Park. Sit back and enjoy a guided tour through an awe-inspiring series of lush greenery and narrow canals that connect the Winter Park chain of lakes. During the tour, you’ll see the stately homes of Florida’s high society and experience the wonder of nature. Located just 10 km north of Orlando, Winter Park was once considered a winter resort. Today it’s a hub of arts and culture you won’t want to miss. There are plenty of museums, art galleries, restaurants, cafes and boutiques to keep you busy from day to night.
After Sunset If your idea of a perfect night includes dinner, dancing and a show, then you’ll be in heaven here. Make a reservation at Gloria Estefan’s resto Bongo Cuban Cafe and let the party begin. The 550-seat two-story restaurant will have you feeling the Latin vibe the moment you step inside. The bold decor complements the bold Caribbean flavours on the plate. The portions here are generous, the presentation top-notch and the cocktails will have you grinning harder than you have in a long time. When the jazz band heats up, don’t be shy. Let the rhythm take hold and work the beat on the dance floor. You may also want to leave some room in your schedule to catch Cirque du Soleil in La Nouba, which is just a stones throw away. The best part? This is one vacay you’ll be glad you didn’t pass over because you thought you were too old to enjoy it.