Many people make the mistake of believing that Orlando is a destination that you only go to if you have kids. I’ve been to Orlando on more than one occasion with just adults, and let me tell you, this city might be one of the best-kept secrets. From amazing sporting events to a growing culinary scene, the city has more to offer than just theme parks. Here’s what you need to know to make your all-adults trip to Orlando a success:
Airfare to Orlando
Depending on where you’re flying from and the season, flights to Orlando from Canada will cost you anywhere from $300 to $700 for a round-trip ticket.
Swoop flies to Orlando from Hamilton while Flair Airlines services Orlando from Calgary and Winnipeg. Alternatively, you could fly out of Buffalo where one-way tickets can cost you as low as $72 USD. Parking is just $50 USD for a week at Buffalo’s airport compared to $130 CAD at Pearson so there can be quite a bit of saving if you’re willing to drive across the border.
Porter flies to Orlando’s Melbourne International Airport from Toronto, Windsor, and Ottawa (December – April). Although this airport is further away than Orlando’s main airport, you would spend less time in airports overall when flying to Melbourne which can be appealing since you may not need to wake up as early or deal with long security lines.
Keep in mind that with any discount carriers, you’ll likely have to pay for your baggage too. If you book through Kayak you can use their ‘Baggage Fee Assistant’ which will show you the true cost of your flight once you include any luggage.
Orlando itinerary: What to do once you’re there
Morning: Dive right into the thrills with Boggy Creek Airboat Rides in Kissimmee. This one hour tour ($47.95 USD/$63.75 CAD) will have you whisking over the wilderness of the Central Florida Everglades at speeds of up to 45 mph while getting up close to the wildlife. Your tour also gets you access to a Native American Village where you can learn about the history of the land.
Afternoon: International Drive used to be known just for cheap accommodations, but new attractions have now made I-Drive a must-see destination. The ICON Orlando 360 ($14.99 USD) and the Orlando Starflyer ($13 USD/$17.15 CAD) will give you some of the best views of Orlando while Madame Tussauds ($28 USD/$36.94 CAD) is a good alternative for those who prefer to stay grounded. Need a bite to eat? Shake Shack serves gourmet burgers and is located next door to the attractions.
Evening: With shopping, dining, and entertainment all within steps of each other, Disney Springs is the place to be. There are more than 60 dining options available but one standout is Enzo’s Hideaway which has a 1920s speakeasy-vibe to it. Italian cuisine such as the rigatoni with sausage and broccolini or classic lasagna pair perfectly with cocktails inspired by the prohibition-era.
Morning: You can’t visit Orlando without spending a day at a theme park so start your day early at Universal Orlando. 2-Park, 1-Day Tickets starts from $170 USD ($224.32 CAD) depending on the day. Splurge and pay the extra $99 – $119 USD ($130.64 – $157.06 CAD) for an express pass since it’ll allow you to skip most of the lines. Enjoy rides such as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Transformers: The Ride 3D, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and more before catching the Hogwarts Express which will take you directly to Universal’s Island of Adventures.
Afternoon: To maximize your time, grab something to eat at any quick service counter so you can get back to the rides. The Hogwarts Express drops you off right in the middle of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you can journey through Hogwarts on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride. The Jurassic Park ride may feel dated, but there’s no denying the fun you’ll have when the T-Rex emerges through the waterfall before your raft plunges into a tropical lagoon.
Evening: After a full day of excitement, you’re going to want to take things easy at CityWalk which is located between the two Universal theme parks. Enjoy a foot long at the Hot Dog Hall of Fame or sip drinks by a seaplane at the Lone Palm Airport.
Morning: You’ll want to take things easy today with a leisurely bike ride on the West Orange Trail. The ideal spot to start is West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades where you can rent a bike for $7 USD ($9.24 CAD) per hour or $30USD ($39.61 CAD) for the day. Head east where you’ll pass the Oakland Nature Preserve, Winter Garden, and Apopka (if you make it to the end of the trail) before turning around.
Afternoon: On your way back, stopping in Winter Garden is a must. This small city is a welcome break from the crowds. Take your time and browse the boutique shops on Plant St. between N. Lakeview Ave. and N. Main St. before you making your way to the Plant St. Market where you can have coal-fired pizza at Michael’s Ali or do a beer tasting at the Crooked Can Brewing Company.
Evening: Shopping in Orlando is serious business and you have a ton of options. The Orlando International Premium Outlets is a good place to start if you’re looking for deals, but don’t ignore the Florida Mall which has major retailers such as Macy’s and JCPenney. If you don’t like to shop, you could try to catch the NBA’s Orlando Magic or the Orlando City SC who play soccer at the Orlando City Stadium.
Morning: Experience Orlando like a local by visiting Mills 50 where you’ll find the largest Vietnamese-American community in Florida and a variety of authentic Asian restaurants, shops, and markets. Restaurants such as Pho88, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, and Tako Cheena are incredibly popular, but note they don’t open until 10-11am.
Afternoon: Downtown Orlando has quite a few things to do. The Orange County Regional History Center ($8 USD/$10.56 CAD) features regional history dating back 12,000 years. Just a block over is Lake Eola where you can rent swan-shaped paddle boats ($15 USD/$19.81 CAD for 30 minutes) or perhaps catch a performance at the outdoor theatre. Craft & Common is the perfect spot if you’re looking for outstanding coffee don’t forget to check out Thornton Park, Church Street District, and Wall Street Plaza which all have their own unique vibes.
Evening: Located a short drive from downtown Orlando is Winter Park, an upscale area worth a visit. Here you’ll find many high-end stores such as Rifle Paper Co., a trendy stationary store and Muni Strings, an instrumental shop that focuses on violins and cellos. Winter Park is also known as foodie hub in Orlando that doesn’t come with upscale prices. THE COOP serves counter-style southern comfort food with family style shared seating.
Where to stay in Orlando
Since this is an adults-only trip, it might be worth splurging on the JW Marriott Orlando where you’ll get a luxury experience. Don’t forget, if you book through Marriott.com, they guarantee you the lowest rate. If you sign up for Marriott Rewards, their free-to-join loyalty program, you’ll pay even less since members get an additional discount.
As mentioned above, International Drive has plenty of budget options available where you can find rooms for less than $100USD per night. The Visit Orlando website has a detailed hotel search where you can search properties based on your needs.
If you’re staying in a group of 3 or more, a great option is a vacation home rental since they’re reasonably priced and give you much more space compared to the average hotel room. As you can imagine, rental homes come with a full kitchen if you decide to cook. Many of these homes also come with 24 hour concierge service, daily cleaning service, and are conveniently located within 15 minutes of the theme parks. Prices vary depending on the time you’re visiting and the type of your home you’re looking for, but you can check out the Experience Kissimmee website for ideas and prices.
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