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While Orlando has become synonymous with Disney World, this happening city has so much more to offer than just Mickey and Minnie. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (from $289/night; www.ritzcarlton.com) is an ultra-luxurious alternative to a theme-park hotel, with a 40,000 sq ft spa, fine-dining on premises, and an 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course. Even your Disney-deprived kids will love the obstacle courses, in-room camping, adolescent spa services, and Lazy River pool.

 


Take in some sun at one of The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes’ three pools.

Photo courtesy of the ritz-carlton, grande lakes

 

With almost 600 guest rooms and suites, 11 dining options, and three resort pools, The Ritz is colossal, but that doesn’t mean you won’t receive personal attention. The doting staff will address you by name and schedule you a last-minute tennis lesson, ensuring you feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your stay. (Maybe that’s why U.S. News & World Report ranked it the “Best Hotel in the USA” in 2018.)

 


 Cool down at one of the resort’s intimate sitting areas.

Photo courtesy of the ritz-carlton, grande lakes

 

Another bonus of skipping Cinderella’s Castle: You won’t need a Fast Pass to hit Orlando’s other top experiences. See the city from a bird’s-eye view at The Wheel at ICON Park, a 400 ft. tall observation wheel. Embrace your inner Jack and Rose at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, featuring full-scale recreations of the ship’s interior, including the Grand Staircase, First Class Cabin, and Verandah Café. Indulge your sweet tooth with a customized candy bar at Chocolate Kingdom; visit Gatorland, a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve; or drive an hour from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Center, where you can learn about NASA and what it takes to launch a rocket.

If themed experiences aren’t for you, there’s always Orlando Brewing for a tour and an organic pale ale, porter, or IPA. Or, get a sugar high via the red velvet cake and hazelnut-spread baby doughnuts at The Ritz’s Highball & Harvest.