While Orlando is the simply the best for theme parks and water parks, to see the city as the locals do we always venture 10-15 miles east of it all to Downtown Orlando, College Park and Winter Park for fantastic restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Whenever we go to Winter Park we just can’t resist The Ravenous Pig on Orange Avenue. Foodies love it here for its culinary flair, unpretentious atmosphere and flawless service – we love it for their Gruyere Biscuits and Smoked Blue Cheese Tart especially. It’s great because you can get pub classics as well as bistro food and fresh seafood – so there’s something for everyone. And everyone sure does love it, so we recommend booking even though it’s not technically required.
There are lots of stylish bars and happening clubs in Orlando, but one of our favourites which combines both is ICEBAR Orlando on International Drive. The clue’s in the name, so yes, put on a cosy cape (or fur coat for an extra $10) and literally chill. The bar’s made of over 50 tons of carved ice, and even the shot glasses are made of the stuff! When we get a bit cold (the temperature is a cool 27 degrees…) then, instead of leaving, we just head to the Fire Lounge where top DJs are on hand and we can warm up by dancing the night away. You have to make are reservation but it’s definitely worth the hassle!
We never leave Orlando without spending an afternoon golfing, and there’s nowhere better than DubsDread Golf Course. It’s seeped in history and there’s something there for every player and skill level. We warm up on the driving range first and then get competitive on its narrow fairways and shorter greens – topping off the day with a drink or dinner at The Tap Room – the desserts here are all homemade and totally guilt-free, since you’ve technically earned them!
Although it’s essential to see the authentic Orlando, we can’t help but love Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. With its spectacular views of Magic Kingdom and the white-sand beaches dotting the edge of Seven Seas Lagoon, this Victorian paradise is the perfect place to stay for both adults and kids. Undoubtedly one of the most sought after Orlando hotels on a Disney property, we feel like royalty every time we enter the chandelier-clad Grand Lobby.
Have you been to Orlando, or want to go? What’s at the top of your list to see and do?
Header image © Russ Sanderlin/Flickr
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About the author: KatieKatie Manning
Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning