Orlando may be the theme park capital of the United States, but that doesn’t mean everything to do and see here is solely focused on kids. Foodie experiences and amazing adventures also await those without little ones in tow, offering a perfect adult escape.
Be a VIP at Disney World
Who says Disney World is just for children? With ultra-luxe extras and exquisite dining, the parks can provide the perfect grownup getaway.
Before you head to town, make a reservation (at least two months in advance) at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Victoria & Albert’s for an elegant dining experience you wouldn’t expect to find in Mickey Mouse’s backyard. Located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, this sumptuous spot is not only the attraction’s finest restaurant; it’s one of the best in Orlando.
Meals here are extravagant affairs, featuring a delicious prix fixe menu with optional wine pairings — and no children under 10 are allowed. The beautiful setting is great for a romantic night out.
Another over-the-top experience at any of the Disney Parks is a VIP tour. Enjoy a customized itinerary created by your personal guide, who will stay with you all day, leading you around, getting you into rides faster and taking you to parades, live shows and select nighttime spectaculars that you can watch from special reserved viewing areas. It is magical when you can skip the lines, not have to look at a map and learn all sorts of Disney insider tips from an expert guide.
Dive with Dolphins (and Sharks)
If you prefer aquatic adventures over kid-filled water parks, try Discovery Cove. While not adults-only, this all-inclusive day resort is about as far from the theme park model as you can get. Visitors are capped to just 1,300 people a day, so it never feels crowded and there is plenty of space to spread out.
But perhaps the best perk of this park is that you can leave your wallet at home. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages (including alcohol) are all part of the deal. In addition, the use of water gear, such as wetsuits and snorkels, is also included, as are activities like snorkeling in a saltwater reef, floating down a lazy river and checking out exotic birds in the aviary.
You’ll only find additional fees if you opt for one of the amazing add-on experiences, such as an interactive dolphin swim; the underwater SeaVentures, where you don a dive helmet and explore the reef on foot; a stingray feeding; or the new snorkeling-with-sharks outing.
Experience Epcot’s Festivals
Part of Walt Disney World Resort, Epcot gives you the chance to check out 11 countries without needing a passport. But even better than the global fun, this park does themed festivals like nowhere else. From a chef-fueled food fest to a gathering of magical gardens, there is almost always something new to eat, drink, see and learn.
Spanning 75 days of fall fun from late August to mid-November, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a gourmand’s dream. The event features dishes from celebrity chefs (past exhibitors have included Jamie Deen, Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, Iron Chef’s Cat Cora and the cast of ABC’s The Chew), live cooking demonstrations, pairing classes and even an Eat to the Beat concert series.
The International Festival of the Arts allows you the chance to see working artists bring their masterpieces to life right before your eyes as you dine on picture-perfect bites and take in live performances that range from Disney on Broadway to local bands.
Art lovers will also want to explore the park’s Flower & Garden Festival, a celebration of spring (through May 28) featuring larger-than-life topiary displays of all your favorite Disney characters.
In between the festivities, rest your head at the nearby Four-Star Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. In addition to an excellent locale (less than a 15-minute drive from Epcot), the property boasts an array of park-specific concierge services to help you make the most of your child-free experience — and a Four-Star spa for some much-needed post-festival R&R.
Discover Disney Springs
Enzo’s Hideaway, situated in the park-themed retail, dining and entertainment center Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney), is a fun surprise. This secluded speakeasy is built within old staff-only tunnels underneath Maria & Enzo’s restaurant. Its main entrance, through an unmarked door, is under The Landing’s bridge. You can also ask staff at Maria & Enzo’s how to find it. (Hint: a second entrance is located near the restrooms).
Other savory spots to check out include Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, with cool Indiana Jones-themed décor; the delicious Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, where you can sample a moonshine flight and Southern plates; Bongos Cuban Café, which features live dancers and a colorful atmosphere; and Morimoto Asia, serving up fine cuisine from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
But the latest must-visit attraction at Disney Springs is Star Wars: Secrets of The Empire, a mind-blowing, fully immersive virtual reality experience from ILMxLAB and The Void. Step into another world disguised as a stormtrooper and complete a secret mission to save the Rebellion.
Follow the Ale Trail
You might not realize that Orlando is packed with craft breweries — more than a dozen, in fact — and an excellent (and safe) way to check them all out is with Hop On! Central Florida Brew Tours. Choose from one of four routes and prepare for a four- to six-hour weekend adventure to some of Central Florida’s best breweries.
There is also a self-guided Central Florida Ale Trail. Pick up a special map, which also serves as a passport to collect stamps at each of the 18 breweries. When you’ve trekked the entire trail, the last stop will reward you with a special commemorative growler. There’s no time limit to complete the quest, so even occasional visitors can eventually experience each and every brewery on the map.