ORLANDO NIGHTLIFE: BEYOND THE THEME PARK
ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando is home to a thriving nightlife scene with exciting options for those looking to extend their fun beyond the theme park. From ultra-hip bars and high-energy dance clubs to laid-back pubs and extensive retail, dining and entertainment complexes, Orlando offers several distinct areas to live it up once the sun goes down.
International Drive, commonly known as I-Drive, features a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment for daytime or nighttime fun. Visitors can play over 200 games at Dave & Buster’s, sip on a cocktail off a bar made entirely of ice at ICEBAR, enjoy a fiesta at Señor Frogs or rock out to duelling pianos at Howl at the Moon Orlando. Located on I-Drive, Pointe Orlando is an entertainment complex offering a diverse collection of specialty shops, live entertainment and unique dining. Pointe Orlando fuses dining and entertainment with spots ranging from the unique flavours of Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar and Greek dancing on the tables at Taverna Opa to the Southern comfort food of B.B King’s Blues Club and nightly comedy of Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre. In 2014, Pointe Orlando will welcome Blue Martini, RA Sushi and Minus5° Ice Bar.
Located within close proximity to Orlando’s world-class theme parks and a short drive from the Orlando Orange County Convention Center, “Restaurant Row,” located on Sand Lake Road, is a 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) stretch featuring 20 exquisite restaurants, many of which feature extensive bars, comprehensive wine lists and live music. Sample a signature martini at Bar Louie, try one of the more than 225 tequilas featured at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, select from one of the largest and most compressive wine lists in Orlando at Vines Grille & Wine Bar, travel through a faux elevator door to Pharmacy for a hand-crafted cocktail or enjoy an extensive beer selection at World of Beer.
Referred to as “The Entertainment Capital of Orlando,” Universal City Walk is a great place for guests to grab a quick snack, relax over dinner, mingle over cocktails, see an electrifying concert or dance the night away. Nightclubs and other after-hour hot spots include CityWalk’s Rising Star karaoke club, where visitors can take centre stage for a moment in the spotlight and perform with a live band complete with backup singers. Grab a bite of classic American cuisine at the world’s largest Hard Rock Café and be sure to catch world-famous names in music and comedy at the adjacent Hard Rock Live Orlando. Dine in paradise at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, the popular landmark restaurant featuring live music every night and a menu filled with Key W est and Caribbean influenced flavours. Experience a little of the Big Easy at Pat O’Brien’s, home of duelling pianos and the world-famous Hurricane drink. CityWalk will welcome eight new venues in 2014, including Hog Dog Hall of Fame, CowFish, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, Bread Box and Red Oven Pizza Bakery.
A 120-acre (46.8-hectare) entertainment-shopping-dining complex at Walt Disney World Resort, Downtown Disney serves up fun for the whole family. Downtown Disney West Side features House of Blues, an eclectic music hall that plays host to world-famous musicians and soulful eats; Gloria Estafan-inspired Bongo’s Cuban Café, premier dine-in experience at AMC Downtown Disney 24 movie theatre; the imaginative La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil; and Splitsville, a vintage, retro-style bowling alley with a fresh spin on music, dining and entertainment. In 2015, Downtown Disney will be transformed into Disney Springs. The project will double the amount of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences, featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix of styles.
Nighttime action is centred along Orange Avenue and its intersections of Church Street, Magnolia Street, Central Boulevard and Pine Street. Wall Street Plaza, a grouping of various bars and eating establishments all on one street, includes Shine, Waitiki Retro Tiki Lounge, Monkey Bar, Wall Street Cantina, One Eyed Jack’s, and The Loaded Hog. Wall Street hosts special events throughout the year and has live music during the weekends with their popular outdoor block parties. Church Street, the central hub of downtown nightlife scene, comes alive with a variety of unique and robust establishments including Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant and Hamburger Mary’s, a LGBT-friendly burger joint. Visitors can take in the downtown views at a selection of rooftop bars, including Latitudes and One80 Grey Goose Lounge, located at the top of the Amway Center.
In addition to Wall Street Plaza and Church Street, downtown Orlando features a number of other notable nightlife highlights. Purveyors of craft beer will enjoy Tap & Grind and The Gnarly Barley. Ember Bar & Restaurant offers an upscale, European tavern atmosphere, featuring delicious drinks and menu options. For live entertainment, SAK Comedy Lab’s performers make up scenes and songs on the spot. BackBooth and The Social showcase local and national acts in an intimate setting. Guest experience the Prohibition era at Orlando’s unique downtown speakeasies, including The Courtesy, serving up handcrafted cocktails, and Hanson’s Shoe Repair, a unique bar requiring a nightly password available by phone.
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