Visitors may think only about its theme parks (there are 13, after all), but the real Orlando lies in its themeless parks: districts like College Park, Winter Park and Audubon Park. These city neighbourhoods have been quietly developing a distinct adult appeal—not to mention some serious foodie cred. Today, even the staunchest Disney Springs devotees will venture out to College Park for the open-faced rock-shrimp ravioli at K Restaurant and the shrimp and grits at Outpost Neighborhood Kitchen. Or, they’ll head to Winter Park to shop for niche-label handbags and edgy Italian eyewear from among the 140 mostly independent high-end boutiques on its tree-lined streets. Let’s just say if there was ever a time to visit Orlando without the kids, it’s now.
1. Stay at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park
This gallery-inside-a-hotel features rotating works from The Cornell Fine Arts Museum—Tracey Emin’s neon signs and Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl photo among them. A private college owns the hotel and all profits fund scholarships.
2. Visit writer Jack Kerouac’s house
Walk to Jack Kerouac’s house in College Park, where the beat writer penned Dharma Bums. Today, it’s home to a new writer-in-residence every three months.
3. Eat in The Mills 50 District
Go here for modern-American at The Strand (try the Shrimp & Fried Green Tomato) and a tasting session at the nearby Quantum Leap Winery.
4. See a play at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater
The Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Loch Haven Park stages all things Bard, from his own works (Twelfth Night, until March 23) to those he inspired (Shakespeare in Love: The Play, until March 25).
5. Drink at The Imperial wine bar
After the show, head to Ivanhoe Village to visit The Imperial at Washburn Imports. By day, it’s a furniture store showcasing exotic, one-of-a-kind wood pieces. By night, it’s a hip wine bar, and every seat is for sale.