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This is how to see Orlando without kids or theme parks

Park Avenue is filled with lots of great restaurants and shopsPark Avenue is filled with lots of great restaurants and shops — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

It’s impossible to think about Orlando without visions of roller coasters, long lines and, of course, Mickey.

But there’s a whole other side of the city that’s sophisticated, that celebrates art and culture and that is pretty much a magic kingdom for adults. It’s a place where restaurants are chef-driven and parks aren’t preceded with the word, “amusement.”

Here are 10 grown-up ways to experience Orlando.

Alfond Inn

Be sure to take the art tour at Alfond InnBe sure to take the art tour at Alfond Inn — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

This art-filled boutique hotel would be a special place to stay even if it wasn’t for the fact that all profits endow the Alfond Scholars at Rollins College, a private liberal arts school whose alumni include Mister Rogers and Paul McCartney’s stepson.

The award-winning Alfond Inn is owned by the college and showcases pieces from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, which is part of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Be sure to join one of the free guided art tours on Sundays at 1 pm or the Happy Hour tour the first Wednesday of the month. Then head down the hall to Hamilton’s Kitchen for a taste of Floridian hospitality.

Lake Eola swan boats

The view from the swan boats on Lake Eola is stunningThe view from the swan boats on Lake Eola is stunning — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

Rent a pedal-powered swan boat on historic Lake Eola for lovely views of the park and the city – along with a little exercise.

You’ll get close enough to the floating fountain for some Instagram-worthy photos and, as you make your way around the lake, be sure to notice the real swans gracefully doing the same.

Luma on Park

Chef Brian McGlamery of Luma on ParkChef Brian McGlamery of Luma on Park — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

Do not leave Orlando without experiencing dinner at the extraordinary Luma on Park, where chef Brandon McGlamery is serving up innovative dishes that are so artistically presented, you may be tempted to Instagram everything in sight.

Because you will never be able to decide what to have, opt for the Prix Fixe Menu, and let him lead you on a one-of-a-kind culinary journey.

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the cultural heart of the cityDr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the cultural heart of the city — Photo courtesy of Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

This stunning space is all about making the arts accessible to everyone, and they do that by presenting everything from ballet to Broadway.

With an emphasis on education, the Dr. Phillips Center offers classes for students of all levels, and is doing groundbreaking work about the important connection between wellness and the arts. Just walking through this beautifully-designed building and experiencing its impeccable acoustics is enough to put you in a good mood.

Morse Museum

Explore the world's most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany at Morse MuseumExplore the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany at Morse Museum — Photo courtesy of The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida

This little gem of a museum boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, so you can immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of color and light.

Admire award-winning leaded-glass windows and iconic Tiffany lamps as well as the celebrated chapel interior he created for exhibition at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. See how Tiffany lived in the galleries recreating his Long Island home, Laurelton Hall, which feature the restored Daffodil Terrace and more than 200 objects from or related to the estate. Then head to the well-stocked gift shop to pick up some treasures of your own.

East End Market

East End Market features local artisans – and some of the best cookies you've ever tastedEast End Market features local artisans – and some of the best cookies you’ve ever tasted — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

Showcasing some of Central Florida’s top food entrepreneurs, tradespeople, artists and chefs, East End Market is home to a dozen merchants, a large event space, a demonstration kitchen, an incubator kitchen, offices, retail shops, an award-winning caterer and a world-class restaurant.

This homey, artisan food hub is a great place to gather over a cup of craft coffee from Lineage, a biscuit breakfast sandwich from Farm & Haus, or fresh bowls and flights from Florida & Co. Whatever you do, save room for one of the legendary half-pound cookies from Gideon’s Bakehouse. Only six flavors are offered each day – and they sell out fast.

Quantum Leap Winery

Enjoy a tasting at Quantum Leap WineryEnjoy a tasting at Quantum Leap Winery — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

This unique urban winery is reinventing the wine-to-market delivery process, seeking out high-quality, sustainably-grown wine from around the world and transporting it to their Orlando facility to be stored, finished, blended and packaged, substantially reducing the carbon footprint.

Check it out yourself by taking a tour and, better yet, sampling some of their best wines in the Tasting Room.

Mills 50

Mills 50 is home to one of the best Vietnamese food scenes in the countryMills 50 is home to one of the best Vietnamese food scenes in the country — Photo courtesy of Mills50

This diverse neighborhood is a Main Street America Accredited program, which means its mission is to stimulate business, create a walkable community and promote its creative culture. It succeeds at all, and is home to one of the best Vietnamese food scenes in the country.

Pick up a made-to-order (or DIY) bahn mi sandwich at Tien Hung, one of the city’s original Vietnamese markets, or a couple of fluffy bao (and truffle tater tots) at King Bao, a deliciously unique restaurant concept. Wash it all down with an iced cheese mousse tea (trust us) from ROYALTEA.

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour

A scenic boat ride is a relaxing way to see the areaA scenic boat ride is a relaxing way to see the area — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

Spend a relaxing hour on a guided boat tour of Lake Osceola, cruising through three of the seven lakes on the tranquil Winter Park chain and making your way through two of the narrow canals which are surrounded by towering cypress trees, swaying palms and lush ferns.

Keep an eye out for large cranes, the crew team from Rollins out for a practice row and maybe even a lazy alligator taking in the sun on a nearby bank. As you gasp at the sprawling homes and luxury estates dotting the shoreline, you’ll understand why Mr. Rogers believed it was always a beautiful day in his neighborhood.

The Rusty Spoon

Chef Kathleen Blake of Rusty SpoonChef Kathleen Blake of Rusty Spoon — Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

Voted “Best Farm to Table” restaurant in the city, The Rusty Spoon serves up seasonal dishes made from the freshest locally-sourced ingredients.

Chef/owner Kathleen Blake is a two-time James Beard Award nominee among many other awards, and her signature buttermilk-soaked onion rings and Dirty South seafood stew are crowd-pleasers.




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