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Orlando for Adults: The Best Bar Guide

by Moderator November 2010 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

Think Orlando, and you'd be forgiven if its vibrant bar scene, highly acclaimed restaurants and thriving nightlife were not the first things to come to mind. Yet this central Florida city - better known as the ultimate family destination and home of a very famous mouse - has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years.

 

Revitalised

Continual rejuvenation of this one-time farming town's urban heart has led to an alluring mix of nighttime venues, from hip cocktail lounges and stylish wine bars to unpretentious taverns and grungy dive-bars. Outside of Miami, the city's historic downtown and neighbouring districts can now justifiably lay claim to the best after-dark scene in all of Florida.

 

 

Downtown Orlando at Night © Robert Clay | Dreamstime.com

Downtown Orlando at Night © Robert Clay | Dreamstime.com

 

Wherever you are in downtown, you won't need to look far for a thirst-quencher. We've plumped for some of the most popular places to enjoy a sophisticated cocktail, great bottle of wine or simply a cold refreshing beer - so check out our selection below and imbibe at your leisure...

 

Central Business District

Much of the action here centres around Orange Avenue and Church Street. The CBD has the largest concentration of bars in all of the downtown area, and everything's within walking distance too so here's a few suggestions to start you off:

 

Bösendorfer Lounge - 23 West Church Street (407) 420-1111

Located inside the Grand Bohemian Hotel, this elegant bar is named after the grand piano given pride of place in the seating area adjoining the bar. It's renowned for its martinis, relaxed black and red interior, contemporary art and live jazz sets.

Rok Room - 41 West Church Street (407) 649-4270

Blink and you'll miss it - this well-kept secret sits at the end of a little alley behind the Antigua nightclub. A favourite hotspot for locals, the sleek all-white bar is a new addition to the Orlando nightlife scene, with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system.

The Monkey Bar - 26 Wall Street Plaza (407) 849-0471

A cosy cocktail lounge with a subtly tropical interior, the Monkey Bar specialises in martinis made using a muddle rather than the traditional shaking or stirring method. Enjoy them on the outside terrace and gaze at the streetlife below.

 

Church Street, downtown Orlando by Nan Palermo on Flickr

Church Street, downtown Orlando by Nan Palermo on Flickr

 

 

South Eola

The burgeoning district of South Eola connects downtown Orlando's historic core to the trendy neighbourhood of Thornton Park. Many of its up-and-coming bars and restaurants border beautiful Lake Eola Park and its nightly-illuminated fountain.

 

The Eola Wine Company - 500 E. Central Boulevard (407) 481-9100

Intimate and contemporary with over 70 wines available by the glass, this is the perfect place to sit back and sip with friends. Grab a table outside for a great view of Lake Eola.

Stardust Lounge - 431 E. Central Boulevard (407) 839-0080

With a 50-ft bar, oversized sofas, plenty of red velvet and even a 'zebra room', this Las Vegas-inspired lounge has a retro, underground feel. Order a caipirinha and try your luck at the billiards table.

 

Thornton Park

Just to the east of South Eola, buzzy Thornton Park's brick-lined streets have been described as Orlando's "most stylish district" by the Washington Post, and this artist- and gay-friendly neighbourhood is teeming with high quality dining options, independent stores and boutiques.

 

Dexter's - 808 E. Washington Street (407) 648-2777

Dexter's is a hip restaurant and wine bar, adorned with cutting-edge works by local artists. There's a speciality drinks menu too, so chill out on the patio with a White Cranberry Cosmo or cinnamon-topped Double Espresso Martini.

Burton's Bar - 801 E. Washington Street (407)

As laid-back as it gets, this divey but well-loved neighbourhood bar is the perfect spot for a cold bottle of beer in a friendly setting. Find your favourite tune on the jukebox and challenge the locals to a game of pool.

Hue - 629 E. Central Boulevard - (407) 849-1800

The recipient of a staggering amount of best-restaurant awards, swanky eatery Hue's atmospheric outdoor terrace is the place to go for a super-swish post-dinner cocktail.

Got any other suggestions to share? We'd love to hear them in the comments below.

Thanks to Nan Palermo for the great shot of downtown Orlando above.

If we've whetted your appetite for a trip Stateside, Virgin Atlantic flies twice-daily from London Gatwick to Orlando, and daily from London Heathrow to Miami, and don't forget to explore the extensive range of hotels, villas and fly-drive options available across the whole of Florida with Virgin Holidays.


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Paul November 2010
Having lived in Orlando for over 10 years it's great to read of the 'other side' of Orlando on the Virgin web-site. There really are many places to visit and enjoy away from the theme parks. Take a night off from the big mouse and chill downtown Orlando. You will be pleasantly surprised.
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November 2010
Thanks for your comment Paul and couldn't agree more.
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Matt November 2010
HI Maxine,

Am taking my wife to orlando on Dec 17th for 6 days, flying Virgin of course !

Its the first time we will have been to orlando when we are allowed to drink (legally in the USA anyway!) so these bar & restaurant reviews will come in handy, thanks very much !

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toddhillerich December 2010
wherever you may find yourself going i can assure you this, there are so many places where women get free entry and free drinks well what about the guys well here is the chance for guys to get special treatment also

all you need to do is be on the guest-list at one of Orlando best night clubs Roxy www.lispromotions.com/signup once your on the list you get in free and get free drinks until midnight every Thursday night so guys get on the list and come out for the ladies night and get some free drinks too

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benick a month ago

 Roxy nightclub – longtime home to insane dance night Takeovr, which was a readers pick for Best Club Night in Best of Orlando 2011 – is closed.

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About the author: Maxine

Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.