Even if you're not a fan of theme parks, I highly recommend packing your bags and doing a long weekend in Orlando, Florida. Case and point: I was invited to spend a few days in this vibrant city dining at Michelin-awarded restaurants, biking the West Orange Trail, experiencing live music at Boxi Park, tasting wine with a master sommelier, and soaking in a warm tub of hops at a beer spa (with unlimited beer, might I add). So I'm here to share exactly how to spend the best long weekend in Orlando without going to Disney. Your getaway can still be totally magical!
If you're wondering whether you should treat yourself to a vacation, the answer is a definite yes. Not only will you reap the rewards of taking a mental and physical break from work, but you'll also experience a mood boost, decreased burnout, an all-around better sense of well-being, and a stronger bond with your travel companions, according to Allina Health.
So what are you waiting for? I tested out the itinerary to make the planning process totally seamless—and actually enjoyable—for you. (You can thank me later!) For now, simply keep on reading, and get ready for the best kind of long weekend escape in the Sunshine State. Wellness, fitness, great food, and more are in your near future.
Bike the West Orange Trail and stop at Plant Street Market.
If you're a fitness enthusiast or you simply love getting active in the good ol' outdoors, you should definitely check out the West Orange Trail. I kicked off this fitness experience by renting a set of wheels at Bikes&Blades Co., a bike rental shop in the Orlando area, which is conveniently situated along the West Orange Trail. This is the longest stretch of paved trail in Orlando that spans a whopping 22 miles, so I certainly got a solid workout in while cycling and soaking up the scenery in Winter Garden.
For a tasty pitstop, I recommend stopping by Plant Street Market, a really cool indoor artisan market with vendors galore. Grab a picnic table where you can enjoy a brew or a flight at Crooked Can Brewery and listen to some live music. If you're hungry—which you definitely will be when walking through the market—be sure to check out Hunger Street Tacos where the slow-cooked birria is out-of-this-world good; This Little Piggy BBQ where the loaded fries with pulled pork is downright smothered in BBQ sauce; Bento Sushi&Poke where the poké bowls are a must-try; and David Ramirez Chocolates to wrap things up on a sweet note.
Relax in a thermal soaking tub of hops at Original Beer Spa.
Does the idea of kicking back with a pint of beer in a thermal soaking tub intrigue you? That's exactly what you'll enjoy at Original Beer Spa—except the beer isn't only limited to just one pint!
Take it from me: Going to a beer spa will be your new favorite wellness treat to book for a day date or "me time." I enjoyed a relaxing 90 minutes in my private treatment room, complete with two soaking tubs filled with warm water and hops, an infrared sauna, unlimited beer (along with sangria and wine, which is typically an additional charge), and a hay lounge to relax and cool off in post-treatment.
As if you needed any more convincing, the skincare benefits of soaking in a tub of hops are too good to pass on. Original Beer Spa's "unique antioxidant profile" exfoliates and rejuvenates your skin.
Have some Instagram-worthy meals and toasts.
If you love flamingos, pink, Instagram-worthy cocktails, and really great food, you need to try Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen. The trendy spot, which was dubbed a Recommended restaurant in the "MICHELIN Florida Guide," is located at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress.
Gear up for Florida-based ingredients and tropical flavors, such as native veggies, fruits, and seafood. My tastebuds were beyond excited to try the Key Lime in the Coconut cocktail with coconut foam; "Bread&Butter" Coconut Media Noche with sea salt butter; Smorgasbord Platter, a selection of fresh seafood and snacks that changes daily; crab cake with sweet corn, roe, and pickles; oxtail and foie gras empanada with mango salsa; and a dessert board featuring the sweetest selection.
Dinner the following evening should be booked at Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen, a staple in the Lake Nona Town Center featuring mouthwatering, sharable plates. The aesthetic and vibe get a 10 out of 10.
I started off toasting a truly amazing long weekend escape with the French Butterfly, made with Hendrick's Gin, elderflower, butterfly pea foam, violet, and lemon. For the main course, I opted for the Black Ricotta Gnocchi (local shrimp, maitake mushroom, and parmesan espuma) and Crispy Pork Belly Pad Thai (rice noodles, egg, sweet daikon, carrots, and peanuts). I always have a second stomach for dessert and just had to try the Butterscotch Bread Pudding with brown sugar sauce. My waiter was raving about how good it was, and suffice to say, it lived up to the hype.
Last but not least, I wrapped up my trip in the best way possible: lunch and a wine tasting at Wine Bar George. I met up with founder and master sommelier George Milotes to sip some wine and enjoy the most amazing cheese board. If you're a wine aficionado, you can't go to the Orlando area and not swoon over the extensive wine selection and rustic-chic decor of this cool spot. I'd say it's about time you pack your bags and head to Orlando!