This post is in partnership with Hotels.com.
When you think about the best destinations for a fun-filled family adventure, Orlando is probably one of the first places you would consider visiting. However, did you know that Orlando is not just the perfect destination to take the kids and enjoy a plethora of fun activities in those iconic theme parks? That’s right, Orlando is also one of the best places to visit for a romantic weekend retreat, a relaxing break for couples or perhaps even a guys/girl’s getaway! Thinking about the best things to do in Orlando for adults during a 48 or 72-hour getaway…well, the list is endless!
Let’s start by thinking about Orlando in a slightly different context to the norm and focus on how “adults” should perceive this city. Yes, while much of the talk will certainly surround Disney World and Universal Studios, there are so many other things that Orlando is famous for but unfortunately it frequently gets left in the shadow of these conglomerate theme parks. We are going to focus on everything and anything that an adult will love about Orlando…from the best places to stay, where to eat and what to do!
Where to Stay in Orlando
Whether you are looking to stay on property at one of the iconic theme parks or perhaps stay closer to downtown Orlando, you can be sure that this city has a vast collection of accommodation options available to suit your preference and budgetary needs. Affordable luxury is definitely an option when considering the variety of chain and boutique style hotels that are available throughout the city, and ultimately it will come down to location, budget and personal preference.
When we visit Orlando for a short weekend getaway and are focused on exploring the “other” side of Orlando (everything minus the theme parks), we generally prefer to find something closer to downtown or International Drive which is frequently considered the heartbeat of the city away from the parks. I-Drive is the ultimate “entertainment corridor” (more on that later) but it’s also home to a plethora of hotel options, ranging from the low-end budget options to the higher-end luxury establishments.
If you are flying into Orlando, you can easily commute around the city using Uber/Lyft (and even public transportation thanks to the awesome trolley service) but if you want that little extra flexibility, renting a car will extend the accommodation options available to you.
Things to Do in Orlando for Adults
Foodie fanatics? Aspiring art critics? Coffee drinkers? Nature nerds? Regardless of whether you are any of these or perhaps just a someone that loves to explore a new city and have a good time, Orlando has everything you need to experience all of the above plus much more!
Given that we highlighted a few different types of travelers that we perhaps closely relate to, we are going to focus on some of these because Orlando is home to a variety of local spots that will offer plenty of intrigue and inspire you to want to return in the future to explore further. But while we are focused on exploring the other side of Orlando, I think it’s important to remember that Orlando’s theme parks are just as much for adults as they are for kids.
In fact, we have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to Orlando while we were annual pass holders at Disney World and can 100% attest this is the “happiest place on earth” even for adults! If you need a little respite from work or simply need to bring back some childhood memories, this is the place to go.
However, it’s some of the lesser known things to do in Orlando that we want to focus our attention on and highlight a few experiences that all adults can enjoy while also seeing a very different side to the city.
Eclectic Food Scene
Orlando’s restaurant scene is one that can certainly compete with some of the leading cities across the world. While it frequently goes unnoticed, Orlando is home to an eclectic collection of global cuisine options and with something for everyone’s taste palate and budget.
If you are looking to splash out and enjoy some fine dining, look no further than the variety of celebrity-affiliated restaurants across Orlando’s diverse neighborhoods, or perhaps you want to enjoy some authentic cuisine from around the world that is a little more affordable. Regardless of your preference, Orlando’s foodie scene is one that will surely satisfy your appetite!
Many of Orlando’s best downtown restaurants can be found on Church Street. From the decadent Kres Steakhouse where you can find some of the best steaks in town, to Amura Japanese Restaurant to enjoy fine sushi and wagyu steak, this is definitely an area of Orlando where you will want to explore the local food scene.
For those of you that cannot get enough of Orlando’s association with Disney World, head over to Disney Springs and experience the various restaurants including Jose Andres’ Jaleo to indulge in typical Spanish tapas. After sampling a selection of delicious dishes, don’t forget to check out the best things to do at Disney Springs!
Orlando’s Street Art Scene
What better way to explore a combination of historic art with modern day artistic creativity than experiencing the awesome Orlando street art scene. Art is frequently associated with visiting art galleries to experience historic artistic works from across the globe. However, we are seeing more and more cities trend towards the ever-changing landscape of street art and what better way to promote local artistic talent than by showcasing amazing murals scattered around the city.
Grab your favorite coffee (check out our recommendations on Orlando’s best coffee shops later) and simply get out and explore the creative side of Orlando. This is a great way to get exercise, learn about some of the lesser-known neighborhoods around Orlando and simply appreciate a different, modern side of art.
From the Mills 50 District to the WestArt/Parramore District, Orlando has an abundance of areas with a plethora of murals on display. Downtown Orlando is equally impressive and exploring this side of the city offers a unique look at how locals showcase unique cultural differences.
Vibrant Coffee Shops
Visiting local coffee shops is not only a great way to sample some of the best local roasts in town, but also to interact with locals and perhaps pick up some useful hints and tips of “insider knowledge”. Enjoying your favorite espresso at one of the local coffee shops is a great way to spend the morning while catching up with friends and family.
iCafe de Paris is a great choice if you are staying somewhere close to International Drive, while for those in the downtown Orlando area, Craft and Common has a real urban feel and delivers a collection of delicious beverages and breakfast items. If you prefer something with a cozy, contemporary feel, head over to Holy Grain Coffee Shop to sample a variety of unique, Brazilian inspired beverages that are perfectly created by the local baristas.
Enjoy Nature Inside a City
Take a stroll through Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens to truly appreciate nature within the city limits of Orlando. Just as locals head to Central Park in New York City to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, heading over to these gardens is a great way to enjoy the solitude and relaxation offered through the flora and fauna on display. This botanical oasis is just minutes from downtown Orlando and the moment you walk through the gates, you are immediately transformed into an area of natural beauty.
With gorgeous panoramic landscapes on display all year round, featuring floral displays local to Florida and from around the world, it is the perfect place to take a loved one and enjoy a relaxing, romantic getaway despite being in the heart of the city.
Looking for an experience that may offer a few more wildlife encounters? Head over to Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve which offers a wildlife haven just minutes from Disney World. With a number of hiking trails throughout diverse habitats, it’s a great way to burn a few calories after indulging in some of those amazing Orlando restaurants. From owls to ospreys and many other species, you never quite know what wildlife you will stumble across as you experience this epic natural landscape!
Orlando may be the home of Mickey Mouse and many other iconic characters that all the family will enjoy. However, if you are looking for experiences that are well suited for an adult only trip, there are plenty of things to do in Orlando to keep everyone occupied.
Whether you are intrigued by the nightlife along I-Drive or perhaps you want to relax in the natural surroundings of Harry P Leu Gardens, there is something for everyone. Of course, Orlando’s eclectic cultural scene includes art, cuisine and much more, inviting visitors from all across the globe to experience the inherent beauty that this city has to offer.
As travel today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with traveling, please travel responsibly and within regulation as any travel is at your own risk.
If you do decide to travel at this time, we strongly encourage you to follow our following recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures and status of local businesses.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.