While we all know that the general Orlando area has become a people-trap for theme park lovers, you don’t actually have to go to Disney World if you’re planning on vacationing in Orlando. In fact, Orlando has quite a bit more to offer besides theme parks, so in this article, I’m going to provide you with 15 of my favorite things for adults to do in Orlando that don’t involve fairy dust, princesses castles or Mickey Mouse ears.
Things to Do in Orlando for Adults You’ll Love
Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way and then we can move on. If you want to go to Orlando, but you feel Disney World is too “kiddie” for you, then Universal Studios is at least worth a look.
1) Visit Universal Studios
Okay, so let’s address the elephant in the room. We all know Walt Disney World’s biggest rival in the Orlando area theme park industry is Universal Orlando. It’s been this way since the 1990s, and if you haven’t been there in a while (or perhaps ever), now might be the perfect time to stop by.
Comprised of two parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, a waterpark, Volcano Bay, and the nightlife destination CityWalk, the Universal Orlando Resort has plenty to offer adults who are looking for something a little less fairytale on their vacation.
A little side note about Universal Orlando—construction has resumed on their long-awaited third theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe.
2) Chill Out at ICEBAR
Have you ever ordered a cocktail at a bar made of pure ice?
Located on International Drive and just seven miles from the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando’s ICEBAR is exactly what its name implies. The frozen ICEBAR and the toasty FIRE lounge sit side-by-side in this nightlife experience, but you do have to purchase a ticket for entry.
A number of options are available, all of which include coat-and-gloves rental as the ICEBAR itself is kept at a frosty 22˚ Fahrenheit to keep the ice, well, frozen. Regular admission is $21 per person, but special Date Night packages are available starting at $120.
3) Spend the Day at Dezerland
Easily a stop that can keep you busy all day long, Dezerland Park is an indoor entertainment venue that’s part museum, part arcade, and part…Bass Pro Shop?
At roughly 800,000 square feet, Dezerland Park has a car museum with entire sections devoted to Batmobiles and Bond cars, a go-kart arena, a bowling alley, axe throwing alleys, a movie theater, and a wide array of dining options to fit everyone’s tastes.
There’s no admission fee (well, at least as of publication, but things like this are always capable of changing), all of their attractions and offerings are pay-as-you-go, but waivers must be signed for go-karting, bumper cars, VR, and Ninja Lounge attractions.
4) Take a Walk in the Garden
Located just outside of Orlando in nearby Winter Park, Florida, two wonders of natural beauty sit within ten minutes of one another on either side of Lake Sue. To the North is Mead Botanical Garden, a 48-acre urban oasis that plays home to a number of local and exotic plants and wildlife including two butterfly gardens.
To the South is Leu Gardens and House Museum, a historic property with a large array tropical plants and flowers that bloom year round.
5) Catch a Game
The NBA Experience at Disney Springs may be permanently closed, but that doesn’t mean that your love of the game has to end. If you’re a basketball fan visiting Orlando between October and June, why not make a trip to Amway Center and watch the Orlando Magic square off against their opponents?
If you visit Orlando regularly, check out the ticket plans the offered and see a Magic home game as often as you want for as little as $375. Celtics, Spurs, or Knicks, grab your ticket and watch the Magic happen!
6) Take a Beer Bath
Okay, while this might seem odd or bring back memories of professional wrestling’s Attitude Era and Stone Cold Steve Austin, this isn’t what you think.
Beer spas are among the latest trends in personal wellness, and this isn’t without the backing of science. The yeast in hops can actually help to open pores and contains plenty of B vitamins. Orlando’s first beer spa, My Beer Spa, is located on International Drive and allows you to not only bathe in but also drink as much beer as you want on tap with your choice between three rotating brews on tap.
If you don’t care much for drinking beer, a selection of wines are also available.
7) Have Dinner with a Whale
SeaWorld is another well-known theme park alternative to Disney World, but it’s one that comes with its own set of controversies and media scrutiny. While orca shows haven’t occurred at SeaWorld Orlando since 2019, you can still see these majestic creatures in two ways at the park.
There’s a traditional animal viewing area, but there’s also a special dining experience for just roughly $31 per adult, drinks not included.
8) Dine & Dance
Dinner shows are a dime a dozen in most tourist cities, but Orlando, Florida is home to one of three locations for Mango’s Tropical Café which offers a dinner show put together with adults in mind. Tickets can be purchased for either just the show, dinner and the show, or dinner and the show plus bottle service.
Samba, Conga, or Salsa your way through the night with sequin-clad dancers and taste the Latin heat in the tropical fusion menu at Mango’s and try one of their signature homemade mojitos. Though children are welcome for the show, the content is adult-oriented and only those 21 and older are allowed in after 10 p.m. when the volume goes up as the “club-within-a-club” Boom opens each night.
9) Check Out a Comedy Club
If you’re a fan of Whose Line is it Anyway?, then you’ll enjoy Sak Comedy Lab, an improv comedy club in operation since 1991. Located on Orange Avenue, within twenty minutes of Universal Orlando, the club have given a number of notable comedians their start, including Whose Line’s own Wayne Brady who was once both a performer and instructor there!
Sak Comedy Lab also offers classes, some of which are free, just check out their list of current classes for more details!
10) Take the Wildest Ride of Your Life
Gatorland has long been a family fun destination in Orlando, but this is one offering that isn’t for the faint of heart. Fill out your waiver forms and get strapped in for the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, zipping between five different lines over the Alligator Breeding Marsh and Nile and Cuban crocodiles.
The experience costs $69.99, and includes all-day admission to Gatorland.
11) Visit an Art Museum
The Orlando area boasts a number of art museums and galleries, but did you know that you can tour some of these for free? The Rollins Museum of Art is always free, the Mennello Museum of American Art is free on the second Sunday of every month, and the Morse Museum of American Art is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Friday from November through April.
If you still want to visit the Morse or Mennello museums on a non-free admission day, the Mennello Museum’s regular admission price is $5 per adult, and the Morse Museum’s regular admission price is $6 per adult. Special rates for seniors and college students are available.
12) Step Back in Time at Old Town
Modeled on the idea of a classic Florida town, Old Town is an 18-acre entertainment district within fifteen minutes of the Walt Disney World Resort in nearby Kissimmee. Part old-school carnival, part retro roadside hangout, Old Town has over 70 unique shops, restaurants, bars, rides, and attractions for you to choose from and hosts America’s longest running weekly car show and cruise each weekend.
Old Town also has special weekly events, ranging from karaoke on Tuesdays and Thursdays to themed car shows on Wednesdays. Old Town is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
13) Pay a Visit to the Home of a Famous Author
“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up.” For anyone who’s ever read Jack Kerouac’s tale about Sal Paradise and his friend Dean Moriarty, this opening line is forever etched in your memory.
But did you know that you can visit Kerouac’s house? Located at 1418 Clouser Avenue, the Beat author once lived in this Frame Vernacular style house. Home to the writers-in-residence for the Kerouac Project, the house is open for tours during all public events that the Project puts on but is otherwise only available for visitors to view the historic landmark plaque and take pictures of the exterior as to not disturb the writers.
14) Go to Church
Yes, this one does sound a little strange, but it’s far more interesting than first impressions would have you think.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe—what a fun name that is—was founded as a Catholic church specifically for tourists following the 1971 opening of Walt Disney World. As it was built for tourists, there is no regular congregation at this church, but daily mass is held at noon for all who wish to attend, and weekend services are held at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and three times on Sundays at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., and 12 p.m.
If you’re a fan of religious art, stop by Mary’s Dwelling, the religious articles shop, to view five pieces of the Basilica’s permanent collection.
15) Have a Dinner You’ll Never Forget
Orlando is home to a number of incredible restaurants born from the minds of even more incredible chefs. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, near located on the Walt Disney World Resort property near Disney Springs, plays host to Four Flamingos, a Richard Blais Florida Kitchen, the chef best known for his appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef.
A fun and immersive tropical dining experience that just opened in December 2021, this is a restaurant with a personality as big as the chef with whom it shares its name. From the signature swordfish steak to the Key Lime Sphere dessert, the menu is one-of-a-kind from start to finish.
Be sure to check out the Roseberry Bomb cocktail, a blend of strawberry-infused Kettle One Botanical vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and citrus topped with a smokey bubble and served with a spear of rosemary for popping, a hallmark of Chef Blais’ signature kitchen wizardry.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Orlando for adults don’t involve Disney World. Traveling to Orlando doesn’t have to be just for kids and families, and it doesn’t have to involve castles, princesses, or talking mice to be magical.
Whether you want to zipline over gator enclosures or chill out at a bar made entirely of ice on your next Orlando area vacation, have fun and “grown-up” however you see fit!
- If you enjoyed this article, please “like” our Countdown to Magic Facebook page!
You Might Also Like These Articles: