Orlando Is a Wonderland for Adults Too
If you’re willing to go off the beaten path, Orlando is full of adult-friendly pleasures far beyond Mickey and company.
Perhaps more than any other U.S. city, Orlando brings to mind a world of theme parks brimming with ecstatic children pulling their parents in this and that direction. But once your inner child is sufficiently enchanted and you want to treat yourself to an experience that speaks to additional age groups, what should you do? Here is a clutch of off-the-grid experiences for adults, and they await beyond (and behind) Orlando’s signature attractions.
When it comes to bringing home a memento of your travels, look past Orlando’s outlets and megamalls to the local boutiques and specialty stores of nearby Winter Park, just north of downtown Orlando.
Discerning shoppers who wander off Park Avenue, the area’s main thoroughfare, will be rewarded with finds like New General. As its name implies, the boutique is a new kind of general store, stocking goods made with minimalist design and socially conscious labor practices. The shop’s Japanese-style shelves are neatly lined with home goods (like candles and neutral-colored dishware) and clothes (totes and leather goods from the local design studio Makr). The in-shop café serves up coffee from the local craft roaster Lineage. 155 E. New England Ave., newgeneral.us
Ten Thousand Villages is a collection of nearly 400 fair-trade retailers who ethically source their goods. The shop’s home décor and accessories come from all over the world, so you can bring back brass earrings from Nairobi, a honey-scented candle from Honduras or a Phoenician-glass vase from the West Bank without going through customs. 329 N. Park Ave., Ste. 102, tenthousandvillages.com
Stationery fanatics need look no further than Rifle Paper Co. for a lovingly assembled assortment of custom prints, greeting cards, notebooks and notepads. Some of the gift-wrap patterns — artful florals that feel hand-drawn — even adorn the boutique’s footwear and candle collections. 558 W. New England Ave., No. 150, riflepaperco.com
Arts and Culture
Orlando is full of local artists and exhibits that make for one-of-a-kind experiences. SNAP! Orlando dedicates its two spaces — the original, which is inside the 1950s Cameo Theatre, and its newer Church Street gallery — to the bold and often cutting-edge possibilities of photography as a medium. 1013 E Colonial Drive, snaporlando.com
A half-dozen independent art galleries draw viewers to CityArts Factory in the heart of downtown Orlando, and the venue also houses the improv-comedy club SAK Comedy Lab. 29 S. Orange Ave., cityartsfactory.com
Orlando also has a wealth of performing arts venues, starting with the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, a reliable presenter of mainstream Broadway shows and touring comedians and pop stars. But for something a little off-kilter, check out Mad Cow Theatre, which has a proud history of presenting provocative fare that has made a splash with critics and audiences, like “Fun Home,” “Venus in Fur” and “August: Osage County.” Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org. Mad Cow Theatre, 54 W. Church St., Second Floor, madcowtheatre.com
Dine and Drink
Kadence, a nine-seat omakase restaurant and sake bar, is hidden inside an all-black building with no signage. The three young chef-owners — all University of Florida alums who trained in Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City and London — will prepare a multicourse tasting featuring the freshest-possible sashimi, including goldeneye snapper and yellowback and Japanese sea bream. The restaurant’s schedule alternates between walk-in-only and reservation-only meals, so check the website, or ask your concierge, to plan ahead. 1809 Winter Park Road, kadenceorlando.com
After lunch, explore the food-forward neighborhood’s other gem, the East End Market, which houses a dozen merchants, a large event space, a demo kitchen, an incubator kitchen, retail shops and a restaurant. 3201 Corrine Drive
For dinner, the much-hyped-about Wine Bar George is a relaxed, two-story vino emporium inside the bustling Disney Springs entertainment complex. An eclectic mix of wines — chosen by Master Sommelier and Orlando native George Miliotes — focuses on quality varietals from underappreciated regions such as tempranillo from Toro and grenache from Australia. Guests can enjoy a glass, flight or 1-ounce pour of any wine in the house alongside a selection of dishes designed for sharing. 1610 E. Buena Vista Drive, winebargeorge.com
Sports and Leisure
Orlando is a haven for sportsmen and sportswomen. Athletically inclined visitors can hop into a golf cart equipped with fishing rods and enjoy a guided catch-and-release bass fishing excursion among the 11 lakes at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Choose to fish from shore or aboard a Hyde Drift boat. The man-made waterways on 500 scenic acres are well-stocked with bass and the fish they feed on. 4012 Central Florida Parkway, ritzcarlton.com
Channel your inner Serena Williams or Roger Federer at the USTA National Campus, a new 64-acre state-of-the-art tennis complex. Camps, clinics, cardio-tennis clinics and private instruction, plus simple court rentals, are available, as are livestreaming and data analytics that automatically provide feedback on velocity. 10000 USTA Blvd., ustanationalcampus.com