5 fun things to do in Orlando with your best girlfriends

By: Tina Anson Mine

Author: Canadian Living


5 fun things to do in Orlando with your best girlfriends

By: Tina Anson Mine
A quick escape with your best gal pals is a guaranteed mood booster. Ditching the daily grind in Orlando, Fla., a city famous for giant cartoon mice and roller coasters, might not be on your radar -- but it might be time to reconsider.

The area has much more to offer than kiddie-themed attractions. Here are five reasons to head south for some fun in the sun with the girls.

5 fun things to do in Orlando on a girlfriends' getaway weekend
1. Museums and tours

Start out by seeing how the other half lives on a scenic boat tour of lush canals and mansions in the nearby town of Winter Park.

After your boat tour, take a spin through the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, also in Winter Park. The museum houses a unique and beautiful collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany's stained-glass masterpieces.

If paintings are more your speed, stop in at nearby Rollins College, which is home to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The 5,000-plus-piece collection includes works from the Renaissance to the 20th century.

Lace up your walking shoes and take a self-guided tour around the historic downtown district of Orlando. Explore buildings from a number of periods -- from Queen Anne to Beaux-Arts to Art Deco -- and get a taste of the area's architecture and culture.

2. Shows and entertainment
Head over to Downtown Disney West Side and get lost in Cirque du Soleil's magical show La Nouba. This strangely beautiful and beautifully strange production features the usual breathtaking acrobatic physicality of a Cirque du Soleil show and mixes it with equal doses of humour and haunting imagery.

Dance, theatre and music are hot in Orlando, but knowing what's on when you're visiting is key. For the most current information, visit the Red Chair Project. This one-stop cultural clearinghouse helps you find hundreds of local listings -- theatre, dance, music and much more -- and buy tickets online before you go.

Need a laugh? Check out a show at the SAK Comedy Lab and watch aspiring comedians show off their improv skills. SAK also offers improv classes if you're brave enough to give them a try.

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3. Shopping and bargain hunting
No trip to Orlando would be complete without a stop at Premium Outlets. The chain's two locations -- one on each end of the city -- are home to a range of brand-name outlets. Whether you're looking for deals on luxe goods from Burberry or Jimmy Choo, or on everyday duds from Old Navy or Converse, there's bound to be a bargain you'll want to take home.

With the Canadian dollar hovering around par, there are deals to be had even at Orlando's swanky Mall at Millennia. This airy glass-and-steel shopping mecca houses 150 stores, from Anthropologie to Zara. If your wallet's exhausted, grab a coffee and take in some fabulous window-shopping.

If you're more of an antiques buff, head down to Ivanhoe Row for a street full of secondhand, antique and just plain quirky little shops.

4. Outdoor adventures
Get your om on with a paddleboard yoga class at Paddleboard Orlando. Instructors are on hand to teach you how to paddle and manoeuvre the board as it skims along the water's surface. Once you have your sea legs, you'll relax and breathe through a series of postures that will test your balance and flexibility -- and leave you exhilarated.

Meet local sea life up close. Spend a day at Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day resort where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel in tropical fish-filled pools, float along a lazy river, or just enjoy the sun and sand. Packages are pricey, but they include meals, drinks and unlimited snacks all day, as well as wetsuits, snorkeling gear and towel service.

Admire the manicured beauty of the city's golf courses and you'd never know that Orlando was once a swampy alligator haven. The city has more than 170 courses, with plenty of great deals for visitors. Check out Golf Orlando to find stay-and-play packages, early-bird discounts and advance tee-time bookings.

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5. Food and drink
Take a stroll down Park Avenue in Winter Park and enjoy the window-shopping and café culture. When you're done, stop in at The Wine Room and sample a huge variety of wines for just a little cash.

Load up a smart card with a set amount of money and use it to try wine in the amount you want: a 1-ounce taste, a 2-ounce half-glass or a 4-ounce full glass. Just $10 allows you to sample four to six different wines from around the world.

Fine-dining establishments are cropping up all over the city, but how do you know what's good? For the latest user reviews, check out Chowhound's Florida board, where you'll get honest reviews from visitors and Orlandoans alike.

• If you don't mind blowing a month's rent on a gorgeous meal, try the Bull & Bear Steakhouse at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Their 36-ounce tomahawk steak is the size of a dinner plate, cooked precisely to order and carved right at the table.

• Want to indulge wisely? Try out Seasons 52 Fresh Grill. The restaurant features seasonal cuisine and a long wine list, and no dish on the menu clocks in at more than 475 calories. Perfect after a few days of excess!

Orlando travel resources
Visit Orlando has a terrific online trip planner at Click on Trip Ideas at the top, then search by type of group, special interests or favourite activity.

Air Canada and WestJet fly to Orlando daily from many Canadian cities.

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5 fun things to do in Orlando with your best girlfriends