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|Jessica Lollino • 3/23/18|
The Short Version: Orlando, Florida, is the Theme Park Capital of the World, and while most people love a roller coaster, couples can find so much more in this thriving city. An award-winning food scene, a plentiful nightlife, and outdoor activities that will thrill bird-watchers and adrenaline junkies alike — Orlando is a perfect place to escape to with your love.
According to the US Travel Association, travel has long-term benefits for couples. Travel not only helps them build and maintain their relationship, but it also helps them reignite the intimacy. In fact, 86% of couples who travel together report that the romance is alive and well in their relationship, and 94% say they feel closer to one another. With statistics like these, there’s no better reason to book a flight right now.
Now here’s the hard part, deciding where to go. You want a place that has plenty to do but allows for time to relax. A place that has unbelievable food and drinks and diverse nightlife options. You also want a place you can explore like a local but still enjoy like a tourist when the mood suits you.
One place that fits the bill is Orlando, Florida.
While Orlando is known for its theme parks, it’s the local hidden gems that make the city stand out. The “real Orlando” is home to humble eateries and sophisticated nighttime hot spots that will charm you and your date. Whether you’re feeling a little more chill or ready to do it all, Orlando has a variety of experiences in store for you.
Explore downtown Orlando with its collection of different neighborhoods, all with a unique look and feel. Hit Orange Avenue for some eats and drinks at Artisan’s Table and DoveCote Brasserie.
If you’re in the mood for some feel-good, do-good java, head to Downtown CREDO to sample freshly brewed coffee confections made from fair-trade beans. The café sports a menu without prices, allowing customers to name their price, which then becomes a donation at this nonprofit coffeehouse.
Add a little culture to your visit by taking a trip to Mills 50, home to the largest Vietnamese-American community in Florida. Ten10 Brewing entices visitors with a wide range of locally brewed beer and hosts the famous Sunday Donuts and Beer event. Pop by local markets, like Dong A Supermarket and 1st Oriental, for authentic Asian foods. While you’re there, head to Quantum Leap, Florida’s only sustainable winery, for a romantic wine tasting.
Get an overdose of romance in Ivanhoe Village, named one of the top five most romantic main streets in the US. Just two miles from downtown Orlando, this haven features vintage-inspired shops and eateries. One of them is the not-so-subtly named Better Than Sex, which is sure to heat up your night with decadent desserts and expertly crafted cocktails.
Other areas worth visiting include the Jack Kerouac House in College Park, The Chef’s Table at the Edgewater, a highly respected dining experience in Winter Garden, and Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical sanctuary.
You don’t need a rollercoaster to get your blood pumping in Orlando; there are tons of other outdoor adventures to challenge your limits.
For an unforgettable experience, give Cypress Canopy Cycle a try. Here, you’ll find reclining bicycles suspended from a network of high-tension cables 25 feet above the ground. You also can’t come to Florida without looking at the aquatic life, so hop on board the Indian River Queen and Island Boat Lines for one of the daily dolphin and manatee tours.
If nothing gets your heart pumping like a good hike, Orlando has several nature trails and parks for you to explore. Biking enthusiasts will love West Orange Trail in Winter Garden. It’s Orlando’s longest paved bicycle trail. Nineteen miles long and winding through fields, forest canopies, and the towns of Winter Garden and Apopka — it’s a great way to appreciate Florida’s natural beauty.
If you’ve ever wondered how monkeys see the world, check out Central Florida ZOOm Air Adventures, located at the Central Florida Zoo. It’s an aerial adventure course that allows visitors to explore the treetops from an animal’s perspective. Guests can move from tree to tree using rope bridges, zip lines, suspended disks, and a variety of unique systems.
For those interested in reptiles, head to Screamin’ Gator Zip Line at Gatorland. Zip line a 1,200-foot adventure with breathtaking views and plenty of excitement. If you love height (but not the gators), skydive the highest tandem jumps in the world at the Skydive Space Center.
After all that excitement, you and your partner will probably want to relax and enjoy inspired eats at one of the many Orlando restaurants. The city has evolved into dynamic dining destination with a roster of celebrity chefs, home-grown culinary talent, and inventive new concepts. There’s something for every taste and price point here.
Orlando is home to restaurants from several established chefs, including Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse. The city has also seen an infusion of new restaurants to the area — including those linked to such renowned names as Jose Andres’ Jaleo, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Cocina, Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s Morimoto Asia, and Guy Fieri’s collaboration with the new Planet Hollywood Observatory.
For a special romantic dinner, make a reservation at Capa at the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort. You’ll get amazing views from the 17th floor. If you want something a little less airy, try Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld. Enjoy your meal with walls of shark tanks surrounding you.
For couples who want something a little less expensive, but just as flavorful, check out Gringos Locos, which offers tacos and beers for as low as $3. When pizza is on your brain, Lazy Moon is the place to savor exceptionally large pizza slices and enjoy refreshing beers on tap or by the bottle.
What’s a lovers getaway without a little nightlife? Orlando has more than 300 establishments to help you create your after-dark memories. Head to Mango’s Tropical Café for live shows, dancing, and world-famous cocktails like those you’d find in Miami. Pop by ICEBAR Orlando to cool off if your night is getting a little too hot to handle — the bar is made entirely of ice!
If you like to get wild and dance on tables, you’re welcome to do so at Taverna Opa. Continue defying gravity at Main Event Entertainment, where you can try the Gravity Ropes or indulge in a little VR playtime. When you’re ready for a nightcap à la Indiana Jones, head to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar for a Cool-Headed Monkey cocktail, a sly nod to “The Temple of Doom.”
With so many great things to do, see, and eat, you’ll need multiple trips to fully appreciate all Orlando has to offer.