Don’t overlook Orlando if you are searching for a destination that appeals to “grown-ups.” Although many attractions cater to the younger set, the area offers everything from peaceful gardens to themed nightclubs.
Lake Buena Vista, FL – (407) 934-7781
This village-style complex provides shopping, dining and nightlife in one convenient location. Get to know four “neighborhoods,” including The Landing with its waterfront restaurants and boutiques; Town Center, a charming promenade with stores like Sephora and Tommy Bahama; West Side with its entertainment venues; and Marketplace, where you can find a souvenir for anyone.
Lake Buena Vista, FL – (407) 824-4321
Would you like a convenient way to learn about other countries and cultures? Though it is a AAA GEM® in Walt Disney World Resorts®, the theme park offers various lands inspired by places around the world. Take a (virtual) hang glider trip with Soarin’ for an overview, or learn more about America’s northern neighbor with O Canada! Plan ahead to attend during one of Epcot’s annual festivals and experience everything from demonstrations to tastings.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Orlando, FL – (407) 246-2620
The 50-acre grounds display colorful flowering plants as well as vegetable, herb and butterfly gardens. Join a guided tour to see the two-story Leu House Museum, which is a circa 1880s farmhouse. Afterward there will be plenty of time to enjoy a relaxing stroll and admire the fragrant seasonal rose garden. Surrounded by lush foliage, you will feel a world away from bustling Orlando.
I-Drive 360, Home of the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye
Orlando, FL – (407) 999-9985
Though there are many attractions and dining options vying for your attention on International Drive, be sure to buy tickets in advance for the complex’s namesake attraction, the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. The 400-ft. observation wheel rotates, and, on a good day, provides a bird’s-eye view right from your capsule of not only the Orlando skyline but also places as far away as Cape Canaveral on a clear day. Splurge for the Champagne Experience during sunset for a sparkling evening out.
Lake Eola Park
Orlando, FL – (407) 246-4484
Consider this an oasis in the middle of ever-growing Orlando. The park contains a serene lake with a fountain, swans-including paddleboats shaped like a swan that people can rent for a small fee-and the multicolored Walt Disney Amphitheater. Take time to feed the birds or view the various sculptures around the lake. A 0.9-mile sidewalk makes this an ideal spot for walking or jogging. A farmers market also opens each Sunday from 10-4 at the southeast corner of the park.
The Mall at Millenia
Orlando, FL – (407) 363-3555
Shoppers with high-end tastes convene at this architecturally impressive mall, which features glass ceilings and art. A number of luxury retailers-think Bloomingdale’s, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.- join brands such as Apple and Anthropologie in the structure off Millenia Boulevard and Conroy Road. Central Florida’s first IKEA is next door.
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Orlando, FL – (407) 503-4000
Your stay at one of Universal’s newer hotels will be reminiscent of another era with its colorful retro décor. With several on-site bars and restaurants, you can sip a frosty beverage at the bowling alley or beachy pool area. Then there are nightly movies as well as the Jack LaLanne fitness center to explore. With so many available activities, you will want to spend an inordinate amount of time at your AAA Three Diamond hotel, which may be a bonus if you come during the summer, Florida’s wet season.
Orlando, FL – (407) 363-8000
This entertainment complex, which connects to the AAA GEM Rated Universal Orlando® Resort theme parks, also encompasses a number of interesting restaurants; picture burgers and sushi (“burgushi”) at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. If you want to party late into the night, bring your AAA card to buy a CityWalk® Party Pass. The pass allows unlimited access to several nightlife hot spots, such as AAA Pick Pat O’Brien’s, which mirrors the famous New Orleans landmark.
Victoria & Albert’s
Lake Buena Vista, FL – (407) 939-3862
Dress to impress at this AAA Five Diamond Restaurant-considered the best place to dine at Walt Disney World if not Central Florida. With only a few tables cocooned by walls draped in luxurious fabric, Victoria & Albert’s offers a fairytale ending to any day and particularly on a special occasion. Allot at least four hours to savor either the seasonal seven-course menu or the more exotic 10-course chef’s tasting menu. At the end of the evening, you’ll get to bring home a loaf of sweet bread-a delicious memento from your evening.