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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Embrace the Outdoors in Orlando

There’s plenty to keep you moving here without setting foot near Disney: sprawling urban parks, nature reserves and farms, plus a booming local food scene.

1. Where to Stay

Cyclists with aesthetic leanings will love chic Aloft, near the bike paths of Lake Eola Park.  

Find a quietly refined retreat at Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes (from $329). Set on 500 lush acres alongside Shingle Creek, the hotel will arrange for you to take a two-hour guided kayak tour ($60), or you can opt to paddle, fish, or birdwatch on your own. Traipse through the hotel’s very own 7,000-square-foot Whisper Creek Farm, complete with chickens and an apiary producing honey used in the on-site spa’s honey mani ($59) and pedi ($89) and, soon, in the dishes at new eatery, Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen (opening in April). Inside, all rooms have private balconies with sweet views of the green surrounds.

Drop your bags at the Grand Bohemian Orlando (from $249), located downtown, a newly hopping ‘hood thanks to a recently opened performing-arts center, a basketball arena, and a burgeoning nightlife scene. The rooms feel luxe with velvet drapes and studded silk headboards. Bask in the Floridian sun by the rooftop pool, or chill indoors with an Aphrodite face massage with green clay at the Poseidon Spa ($105). Be sure to peruse the hotel’s vast art collection of 150 works, including paintings, glass art, and jewelry by local and internationally acclaimed artists.

Surround yourself with modern style at Aloft (from $189). The location near Lake Eola Park is perfect for runners (there’s a nearly mile-long track looping the lake) and cyclists can take advantage of the Orlando Bike Share hub right on the north side of the property. Relax inside chicly minimalist, spacious rooms done up in neutral tones with wood accents and floor-to-ceiling windows with stellar lake and park views.

Published on Mar 19, 2015 as a web exclusive.