Orlando without Disney


Hello again weekenders,

Having just got back from my short venture to Orlando I am a lot more excited to write this post than I thought I would be. Hear me out. I was going to Orlando for the first time ever, and I was not going to go to Disney (or any other park) so I was left thinking..okay what will there be to do? Much to my surprise Orlando was just as magical for adults!

Seriously I didn’t think there would be that much for a couple to do without anything Disney. Being this was another short getaway I didn’t really have it in my budget to spend $120-$300 on park passes-and honestly I didn’t really want to. It’s Spring, it’s been a very blah winter and I just really needed a break.

Enter cheap last minute trip to Orlando.

I told myself before boarding my plane from Detroit, “okay I am NOT planning this trip at all, I am just going to go with the flow when I get there and relax for once.” If you know me at all you know that’s a difficult task for sure. I like to know where I will be staying, what I will be doing, where I am eating, literally every detail to make sure I get the most of my time anywhere. But what I learned on this trip not having planned anything was how much fun it was to just go with the flow! Only having two full days in Florida, I spent one on the beach in Clearwater (details and pictures to come. OMG it was gorgeous), and I spent the other day in a resort not far from where I was staying using their water park and putt-putt course (still undefeated I may add).

Okay now is the time for me to share with you how I managed to have this amazing trip. Below you will find my itinerary for the weekend. Including the best places I found to eat. Apply sunscreen and enjoy!

Day 1-Arrival to MCO

I worked a half day on Friday so I was able to get to Orlando a little earlier, however, if you can’t squeeze out of work there are a million flight times for Orlando, so finding one that works for you will be a breeze.  I took a quick dip in the outdoor pool and started to plan the rest of my evening. I stayed in the Holiday Inn SW Celebration Area right outside of Orlando, the link is here http://www.hicelebration.com/  Being just a little outside of Orlando (25 minute drive) it was a great central location for my trip.

Day 1- Cafe Tu Tu Tango

Cafe TuTu2

cannot put into words how glad I am to have stumbled on this gem. Cafe Tu Tu Tango http://cafetututango.com/ was the dinner choice for the first night- it set the bar really high, and being right next to the Orlando Eye it was an amazing location. Adorned with hand painted art work from locals (which are being painted in the cafe as you eat) you are guaranteed to see Flamenco dancers twirling through the restaurant to live music. Having chosen to sit at the outdoor portion of the cafe I started my dinner; Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls, Spiced Alligator Bites, and Blackend Chicken Sliders.

Cafe TuTu

Everything is Tapas style so its small portions designed to share..but I didn’t want to. The Cajun Egg Rolls were the bees knees, best meal I ate on this trip, but everything was delicious.

Day 1- Orlando Eye

After devouring my three plates of tapas I needed to walk around a bit. Driving up to Cafe Tu Tu Tango I could see this incredible Ferris wheel and I just needed to get a closer look.

Orlando Eye

There she is folks. The Orlando Eye is centered in a pedestrian only park that has cobble stone lined streets with tons of food, bars, clubs, museums and souvenir shops. It was an awesome place to walk around, take pictures and eventually grab dessert at the Ben & Jerrys overlooking the Eye.

Day 2- Resort Life aka Ballin on a Budget


The beautiful Holiday Inn Club Vacation at Orange Lake https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnclubvacations/hotels/us/en/kissimmee/discv/hoteldetail.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay here, unless you are willing to shell out some massive cash for a timeshare..you probably wont either. HOWEVER if you could sign up for a vacation home this is definitely the place to do it. Located just 15 minutes from my hotel we were able buy 3 day passes to use their pool, lazy river, putt putt golf and water slide. We arrived at 10 am and didn’t leave until about 7 at night when the sun went down. You name it this resort has it, tiki bars that overlook the amazing scenery, pool volleyball, and other outdoor activities. For under $50 a person it was way better than standing in line at a water park near Disney.

Reort 1

Okay so this is just the lazy river..hello are you kidding me?! Look at it..just LOOK! It connects River Islands three pools and offers views of the most amazing landscape job I’ve ever seen. Ultimately a day well spent here.

After the resort we had a nice dinner with Padrino’s, http://padrinos.com/  for some amazing Cuban Cuisine, where I had to order my favorite Arroz Con Pollo and went to sleep early. Goodbye resort life. Next we are off to the beach!

Day 3- Beach Life=Best Life

Day 3- Parasail

This was a total accident. The only thing I really wanted to do during this trip was go to Parasailing. We had tried twice to go on the Atlantic Coast near Cocoa Beach but high winds lead to two cancelled reservations. In my desperation to cross parasailing off my bucket list I finally thought to try the Gulf Coast. Finding Chute Em Up Parasail http://www.proparasail.com/  in Clearwater Beach I was ready to go! They don’t take reservations over the phone  SO GET THERE EARLY!!!


Let me tell you something. One of the coolest experiences of my life!! 800 feet of line separated us and the boat…and I don’t want to know how far down the water was. But the views were just breathtaking. Coming in at under $150 for two people it didn’t have a bad price for an experience like this. Our captains Neil and Mikey did an amazing job of making sure our boat of para-sailors all had an amazing safe experience.

Day 3- Clearwater Beach


After Parasailing we decided to spend the rest of the day on the beach, I mean Clearwater is the #1 beach town in all of Florida and I was about to find out why. Between the crystal clear water (no doubt why the beach has its name) amazing food nearby (check out Pan Filos for their amazing tacos), and laid back beach bum vibe I was hooked. My last day in Florida was amazing and the trip turned out to be everything I had wanted. It was relaxing, adventurous and filled with delicious food. We stayed on the beach long enough to catch the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen, then it was back to reality the next morning.


Thank you Orlando for showing two adults an amazing weekend. Hopefully you will find this guide helpful next time you visit the sunshine state!



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