Orlando has become synonymous with theme parks and family- friendly fun, but there is plenty to see and do for adults without children in tow.
In the last decade, an increasing number of hotels and attractions have opened in O-Town that cater to adults-only (or near-adults only) experiences, from championship golf courses and splendid spas to charming neighbourhoods with peaceful pedestrian arcades.
Play a round of golf
Orlando boasts more than 170 golf courses, 20 golf academies and is home to more pro golfers than any other city in the world, so it is not surprising this is a golfer’s paradise. An entire vacation can be planned around golf outings and clinics. Popular courses include the Jack Nicklaus–designed Grand Cypress Golf Club and the Tom Fazio-designed Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando.
Have a spa day
Escape the crowds and book a spa day. While many luxury spas like Senses Spa at The Grand Floridian welcome children and teens with child-friendly offerings, the Waldorf Astoria Spa is geared toward adults seeking serenity. The Waldorf Astoria Spa features rainfall showers, Jacuzzis, a eucalyptus steam room and a tea lounge. Services include massages, facials, body wraps, manicures, pedicures and salon services.
Eat at a celeb restaurant
There is more to dining out in Orlando than chicken fingers and fries at fast-food restaurants and character-themed dinners at theme park attractions. Orlando’s food scene has expanded to offer restaurants for every palate and price range. One of the best is Norman’s at The Ritz Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Chef-founder Norman Van Aken is a legend is Florida. The award-winning chef crafts his signature New World cuisine at his eponymous restaurant, like a sensational tapas menu, including Key West shrimp ceviche with tequila and avocado, beef tartare with plantain chips and cilantro chimichurri and Wianno oysters with Michelada granite and fresh horseradish.
Explore Winter Park
Just north of Orlando is Winter Park, a leafy, idyllic city that is home to robust arts and cultural offerings throughout the year. The pace here is much slower than hectic Orlando, but worth visiting for a quieter side of Central Florida. Take a stroll along Park Avenue’s shops and stop for a coffee or bite to eat at quaint cafes that overlook a peaceful lake popular with joggers.
Run off with the circus
100 million people in more than 300 cities on five continents have been enchanted by Cirque du Soleil. More than 65 acrobats, singers, trapeze artists, jugglers and clowns bring the story of La Nouba (French for ‘The Party’) alive under the big top stage each week.
Put your pedal to the metal
Bring your NASCAR dreams to life by taking a three-lap spin riding shotgun in a NASCAR race car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. The qualifying run reaches speeds up to 190 kilometres per hour as the car zooms around the one-kilometre tri-oval. Those with the need for even more speed can get behind the wheel and drive eight exhilarating laps around the track.
Take a plunge in an adults-only pool
From sunrise to sunset, adults can enjoy The Oasis, an outdoor, adults-only pool at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando. The 28-metre-long pool features underwater music. Overlooking a pristine lake, the glistening pool is the perfect spot for cooling off and lounging in the Florida sun sans children.
In nearby Winter Park, art buffs can admire one of the largest collections of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The museum’s collection also includes 19th- and 20th-century decorative arts that are equally noteworthy.
Go bargain hunting
Bargain hunters and shopaholics will appreciate being able to shop from morning until late night at two outlet malls. The Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets features 160 outlet stores like Armani, Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach and Fendi. Nearby, the Orlando International Premium Outlets features 180 shops like BCBG Max Azria, Coach, J.Crew and Michael Kors.
Go on a brewery tour
Orlando might not be the first place that comes to mind for a brewery tour but the Orlando Brewing Company crafts what it calls “darn good beer.” Located in downtown Orlando, the organic microbrewery and taproom has 24 beers on tap and free tours are offered for beer aficionados. Live music sweetens the deal.
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