If the last time you were in Orlando you were either under the age of 18 or forced to collect autographs from costumed critters for someone who was, your impression of the place could be somewhat skewed. While the city is best known for it’s affiliation with Mickey, it has also blossomed into an adult destination in its own right.

Orlando - city This year it was voted one of the New York Times’ 52 places to see in 2015.  And with good reason: From award-winning eateries to rides little kids have no business on,  there are plenty of reasons to start planning an Orlando area getaway without the kids.

Make these five must-dos a part of your Orlando-area plans and you’ll find yourself making excuses to leave the kids behind on your next visit too.

1. World Class Dining:  James Beard Award-nominated Txokos Basque Kitchen is a good place to start for seasonally driven dining, Deep blu seafood grille won’t let you down and  Luma on the Park boasts an incredible wine list. And that’s only the beginning of an impressive list of offerings in the area. As a testament to their foodie leanings, 2015  marks the first time that neighbouring Kissimmee will be hosting the World Food Championships! Venture down between November 3 and November 10, 2015 and you’ll be able to catch celebrity chef competitions and demonstrations along with opportunities to taste the offerings from competitors.

2. Thrills : Sure the kids love the theme parks but not everything at the parks is focused on them. You can still get your screams in without the little ones holding you back at Universal Orlando. Skip the kiddy coasters and go straight to the Hollywood Rip, Ride Rockit or the Dragon Challenge . Both will leave your heart in your mouth.  And while younger kids mightn’t get the references, adults of a certain age will love paying a visit to Springfield, USA to hang out with the Simpsons. From a Flaming Mo at the bar (ask to use the phone for a laugh) to the Duff Beer across the street to a Lard Lad donut as big as your 10-year old’s head, it’s meant for those of us old enough to remember how to use a pay phone (The one outside of the Kwik-E-Mart is worth picking up.)


3. Eco Adventure :  If you’ve never gone beyond the theme parks it’s easy to forget that outside the gates are all the natural wonders that make Florida gorgeous.   Set out to explore the area’s natural side. An Airboat ride with Boggy Creek is both beautiful and educational. You’ll learn about the swamp life that calls the area home and gain a new appreciation for the beauty that abounds. Prefer your parkland with a little exercise?  Ziplining over alligators at GatorLand will give you a story to tell when you’re back home.

Orlando4. Spread Out : Forget cramped hotel space, spread out and feel at home in hotels and resort properties that offer up an adult-sensitive stay. At the new Four Seasons Resort in Orlando you’ll find an 18-hole golf course to keep you happy and nightly views of the Disney fireworks that you can enjoy without the over-tired kids to deal with the next morning. Traveling with a bunch of friends ? Opt for a resort home stay. Global Resorts offers a choice of options ranging in size from a condo suite to a 5-bedroom (or more!) mansion. Some include their own pools, private theatres and all boast well-equipped kitchens. You can’t get much more “at home” than that.

5. Shop: The Orlando shopping scene is famous and leaving without a few bags would be a shame. Head for the Outlet Malls to catch significant deals on the brand names you love. And don’t miss the Mall at Milennia as well. Whatever your choice you’ll be sure to  find the latest designer offerings at prices that will give you the perfect memento for your adults-only getaway and remind you of why you need a return trip.