While it might be known around the world for being the home of the amazing Walt Disney World, as well as many other fantastic theme parks, Orlando also offers a wide variety of enchantment outside of the Magic Kingdom.
This central Florida city is also one of the most accessible destinations from just about anywhere in the world, and that includes most of the fabulous retirement communities here in the Sunshine State.
The combination of easy accessibility and exciting theme parks makes Orlando a popular choice for weekend getaways, but what many people don't realize is that you can have a truly amazing 48 hours here without ever buying a ticket to a theme park.
Day One – Tapas, Art, Local Food, and Craft Cocktails
Our first stop upon arrival in Orlando is going to be a dynamite lunch at Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This fun and trendy Spanish-inspired cafe will hit your senses with bright, vibrant colors and local artwork before treating you to an eclectic collection of small plate options that range from street tacos and sliders to pizzas and flatbreads.
After eating lunch surrounded by local art, the next step on our tour of Orlando is naturally going to be either the Orlando Museum of Art or the Menello Museum of American Art. The Orlando Museum of Art is the place to see some of the most astounding modern work you will find anywhere, but if classic American Art is your preference, then the Menello Museum of American Art will blow your mind with its outstanding collection of Earl Cunningham paintings.
For dinner, we are making reservations at K Restaurant, which specializes in New American cuisine. The menu here changes daily based on what the chefs are able to find from the local Central Florida farms and artisans, but there is a good chance that you will find filet, scallops, and duck on the menu.
Following our meal, we are taking a quick Uber ride down to The Courtesy for an evening of handcrafted cocktails. You won't want to bother with ordering your usual drink here, but you also won't feel intimidated either. Ask a bunch of questions and let your server recommend the perfect mix for your palate.
Day Two – Golf, BBQ, Outdoors, and Steak
Our second day in Orlando is going to start off with an early tee time at one of the 150 perfectly manicured golf courses located all over the city. Take your pick between famous courses designed by icons like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Reese Jones, and Greg Norman. And if for some reason golf isn't your thing, feel free to spend the morning pampering yourself at one of Orlando's famous spas.
When lunchtime rolls around, we are going to be sampling some of the best BBQ in Orlando at Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa. You can feel free to order a classic BBQ platter here, but we recommend stepping outside your comfort zone and diving into something wild like the Crisp Pork Belly Banh Mi, the Butter Chicken Tacos, or a Mongolian Brisket Bento Box.
After lunch, we are going to get outside and ramp up the excitement level with either Revolution Off Road or Boggy Creek Airboat Tours. Revolution Off Road will let your ride through the mud on their ATV tours, and Boggy Creek will take you out through the swamps in one of their exciting airboats.
Considering how much fun and excitement we have had in Orlando to this point, the goal for dinner is going to be relaxing in style at Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse. Sign yourself up for the Full Churrasco Experience and you will have unlimited access to an astounding soup and salad bar, as well as a parade of tableside meat carving.
If you have any room left for a cocktail after dinner, head over to The Guesthouse for a nightcap. They specialize in classic cocktails, and they always make them just right.
Day Three – Racing, Chicken & Waffles, Shopping
On our third day in Orlando, we are going to start off with an option.
If you are craving more excitement, then we are heading to Andretti's Indoor Karting & Games for one of the craziest go kart experiences of your life. But if something more relaxing is what you are looking for, we can visit the stunning Bok Tower Gardens and appreciate the colors of whatever the current season might be.
When you are finished racing or taking in the beauty of the gardens, our next stop will be brunch at Hash House A Go Go. There are plenty of things to pick from the unique menu here, but the featured item that everyone should try is their Sage Fried Chicken and Waffles.
Before we pack up and head out of town, our last stop is going to be a quick shopping trip at either Disney Springs or Universal CityWalk. We promised that you wouldn't have to buy any theme park tickets, but these outdoor areas near the parks offer some of the best shopping you will find anywhere in Florida…especially if you are looking for fun souvenirs to remember your getaway.
Where to Stay in Orlando
Grand Cypress is one of our favorite places to stay in Orlando, and you can make your choice between a romantic villa at Villas of Grand Cypress or a room in the impressive Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
But since there are hotels just about everywhere in Orlando, you should never have an issue finding a great one for a reasonable price. And once you have that lined up, the only thing left to do is show up and enjoy your 48 hours in Orlando!
Nearby Retirement Options
There are a number of 55+ communities in Orlando, but here is one of my favorites right now:
Del Webb Oasis is located just minutes from Orlando area theme parks and attractions.
Like most Del Webb 55+ communities, Del Webb Oasis has a long list of amenities for residents to enjoy, including a 12,000 sq. ft. resort-style amenity center.
Del Webb offers 13 different floorplans here from their “Scenic”, “Distinctive”, and “Echelon” home series, plus the “Ellenwood” from their attached villa series. Prices start in the $400k's.