Cities, with the exception of greater Las Vegas, aren't built for amusement. They're built to function as market hubs and transport hubs and government hubs, and then people build houses to be near the jobs generated by all that hubness.

Gradually come places to buy shoes and clothespins and Grape Nuts and wing nuts, and places to pray and go to school, maybe a cafe or two, and in the best towns there arrives a bit of entertainment -- a movie theater, a club for social mingling with a little music on the side.

Still with me?

If business is good and extremely wealthy people have more money than they can spend guilt-free on themselves, culture happens -- all downtown.

It happened pretty much this way in Orlando. Sherry Lewis of the Orange County Regional History Center remembers that Orlando.

"When I was growing up here," she says, "downtown was it. We shopped downtown, we ate downtown."

And then downtown stopped being it, for a variety of reasons. It stopped being much of anything.

"The Orlando of the '50s that I grew up in? There's absolutely no resemblance to the Orlando we see today."

Which, while enjoying something of a revival, isn't bustling.

Why? Briefly, as with many mid-size cities in all regions, the interstate highway system made it easier to live 20 miles away from the downtown shops and offices, which begat malls to serve the newly installed residents, which begat office buildings alongside the malls. Downtowns withered.

In the South, especially, there were contributing factors, but I'm running out of space.

Now, specifically in Orlando, there was something else:

"There's no doubt about it," says Lewis. "In 1971, with Disney ... "

When Walt Disney World opened 20 miles southwest of the city in 1971 -- with hotels both within and neighboring the property -- the city, in perception if not reality, became a place to bypass. Universal Studios opened two decades later, technically part of Orlando but 11 miles from downtown; that, plus a new business-convention corridor near Universal, plus its proximity to Disney, spawned more hotels and restaurants -- down there.

Not up here.

You've got the picture.

Then why come into the city at all? Because if you poke around, you still find, even in Orlando, all the things that make cities wonderful.

Only in a real city will you find, in an art museum, a painting with a title like this: "In the beginning there was borscht, and then came the thought of liver." Done partly in beet juice.

Here are some of the joys of this city -- downtown and in the neighborhoods -- that are particularly suited for grownups and particularly for grownups weary of being blocked by convoys of baby strollers from getting to, say, Universal's incomparable "Spider-Man" thrill ride.