When it comes to traveling in Florida, adults without children in tow may avoid Orlando. That’s understandable, since it has more theme parks that any other city in the United States, with Disney World being the granddaddy of them all.
The thought of trekking through one of these childhood fantasylands surrounded by a cacophony of sticky toddlers having meltdowns brought on by over-stimulation and missed naps is enough to make some childless travelers break out in hives. But Orlando offers lots of grown-up fun, too, you just have to know where to find it in the land of Disney princesses and little wand-waving Harry Potters.
Here are a few reasons to visit Orlando without the kids.
No matter how fierce the anti-theme park sentiment, oenophiles usually make an exception for Wine Bar George at Disney Springs, an entertainment district at Walt Disney World Resort.
After all, the chance of running into anyone sporting Mickey Mouse ears is pretty slim in a 21 and older crowd.
Opened just over a year ago by master sommelier George Miliotes, the bar revolutionizes how wine is served. The entire wine list (there are 140 from around the world) can be purchased by the ounce, glass or bottle.
The idea is to provide guests with a bespoke wine-tasting experience.
“If you want to come in and try a Moscato, Riesling and Chenin Blanc flight, and experience some light fruity wines, that can be done, said Miliotes. “Or you can come in and try some of the greatest wines in the world by the ounce that would typically cost $2,000 in a bottle investment.”
Well-trained staff can demystify wine for novice drinkers or take a tasting to the next level for connoisseurs.
“You can come in and talk about Chateau Margaux ’98, but you can also stop in and enjoy some Frozcato (frozen Moscato, pineapple and whipped topping),” Miliotes said.
Whatever the choice of libation, Miliotes’ goal is to make wine approachable, educational and fun.
Bring your appetite, and pair your wine with a charcuterie plate.
Info: 1610 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 407-490-1800, www.winebargeorge.com
If golf is your game, tee off at the prestigious, 2,300-acre Reunion Resort & Golf Club, the only property in the world that boasts a trio of scenic, perfectly manicured courses designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer.
Fair warning: each presents unique challenges capable of crushing the most impressive of handicaps.
At first glance, the parkland-style Jack Nicklaus Course doesn’t look too daunting, but the clever design can lead to overconfidence, luring golfers into taking dicey shots that either payoff big or sink their round faster than you can say “double-bogey.” The signature 16th hole plays over water to a shallow green flanked by deep bunkers.
The undulating Tom Watson Course, with its wide fairways and shrewdly placed bunkers, presents a different set of obstacles. Players must constantly balance risk and reward, testing both their physical skill and ability to strategize.
Golfers of all levels play the somewhat forgiving Arnold Palmer Course, but hole 15 is a hard call even for masterful players. It presents a choice of taking a brave shot over the water or going for the riskier shot around it that could land a par-5 hole in two.
Wrap up your day with dinner at Eleven, an elegant rooftop steakhouse perched on the 11th floor of the Reunion Grande building in the heart of the resort. A carnivore’s dream, it offers not only the expected filet mignon and New York strip, but grass-fed rack of lamb and a pork T-bone.
Nightly fireworks from nearby theme parks get diners scrambling for the veranda, offering one way to catch a little Disney magic without the mayhem.
Info: 7593 Gathering Drive, Kissimmee, Fla. Villas $159-$309. 855-716-7466, www.reunionresort.com
Luminous blue and green glass shimmers with an ethereal quality as though created from the world’s finest peacock feathers at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Tiffany glass.
“Iridescence — a Celebration,” opened in February and features objects of glass, pottery and enamel from a variety of 19th and early 20th century artists.
Highlights include a 1910 gold vase by Tiffany Studios draped in green aventurine glass that Louis C. Tiffany displayed in his own home, and a purple, ovoid-shaped vase by French ceramist Clement Massier. The iridescent sheen reveals a scene of whimsical sea creatures that seem to swim with the tide.
The exhibition runs through September 2021.
Info: 445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, Florida. $6, free for children under 12. 407-645-5311, www.morsemuseum.org
Where else but at the St. Somewhere Spa at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, a new Jimmy Buffett-themed property, are pedicures accompanied by the resort’s salt-rimmed namesake, the margarita?
While enjoying a foot-soothing treatment that gets your tootsies flipflop ready, take a sip of your frosty cocktail, close your eyes and sway to the melodious ringing of Caribbean steel drums.
Choose from a wide range of treatments, including massages, facials, or a full day of pampering.
Those traveling with children can send them to H20 Live!, the resort’s social media-inspired water park that opened in May. They’ll have a blast while Mom and Dad indulge in a spa treatments in Paradise.
Info: 8000 Fins Up Circle, Kissimmee, Florida. Rooms and cottages $200-$550. 407-479-0950, www.margaritavilleresortorlando.com
Winter Park is a peaceful Orlando suburb was founded in the 19th century by wealthy Northerners who wintered in grand mansions along the area’s pristine lakes.
Hop aboard an 18-passenger pontoon boat operated by Scenic Boat Tour for an hour-long, narrated tour of Lakes Osceola, Maitland and Virginia, and two man-made canals. Along the way, check out the historic waterfront homes built by those first snowbirds and their successors, as well as the Spanish-Mediterranean architecture of Rollins College.
Info: 312 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, Florida. $14-$7. 407-644-4056, www.scenicboattours.com
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