Home to countless theme parks, water parks, and movie worlds, it often seems Orlando is only a holiday destination for those with the kids in tow. But if you’re looking for something away from the rides and fairy floss, then don’t overlook what has been nicknamed The City Beautiful. From wildlife safaris to world-class vineyards, Orlando has plenty to makes it a worthy weekend escape for adults as well.
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Grab brunch at Orlando’s East End Market, a cultural food hub that brings together local farmers with artisan chefs. It aims to promote community and healthy living through food awareness, and it’s also home to some of the city’s best coffee!
Spend the afternoon immersed in primordial Florida, before the theme park and condominium developers arrived. Forever Florida is a 4,700-acre wildlife conservation area that comprises a variety of different subtropical ecosystems. It’s home to black bears, white-tailed deer, and the endangered Florida panther. From the alligator-packed waters to the bird-filled tree canopies, this is a nature lover’s paradise. Safari through its dense forest, go horseback riding along its historic trails once traversed by Native Americans, or take a thrilling ride on its canopy zipline, offering a bird’s-eye view across the eco-park.
At night, experience a show at Mad Cow, one of the city’s most highly revered professional theatre companies that presents contemporary plays by some of the country’s best playwrights. Renowned for its skilful and dedicated acting, Mad Cow productions are progressive and insightful, catering to theatre aficionados and first-time audiences alike.
On the following morning, head to the magnificent Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical oasis that’s beautifully landscaped with diverse ecosystems and home to a vast array of plant species. Mr. Leu and his wife owned the land starting in 1936, when they sourced seeds and plants from their extensive travels. Visitors can explore their legacy at the on-site museum, housed within a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion. In addition to its dedication to promoting plant awareness, the gardens also host a number of both permanent and temporary horticultural art exhibitions.
In the afternoon, indulge your culinary senses at the Quantum Leap Winery, which uses a unique approach to making wine. This winery sources from sustainable producers throughout the world and creating its own blends, all whilst keeping its carbon footprint to a minimum. Take a tour of this innovative winery and sample the resulting products in the tasting room, or look out for one of the live music nights.
Spend your final evening at Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba show, an awe-inspiring production of colour, theatrics. and spell-binding beauty. Orlando is lucky to have one of the United States’ few resident Cirque du Soleil shows, featuring some of the world’s most talented acrobats and performers in a show that hails rave reviews.
For an adults-only weekend escape in Orlando, there are plenty of attractions away from the crowds and queues of the city’s theme parks, including gourmet cuisine, world-class theatre, and natural oases. Combined with your choice of boutique hotels in Orlando, you can easily enjoy all the city’s unexpected sophistication.