I believe that people tend to erroneously think of Orlando as a place designed just for kids. But while the theme parks certainly cater to youngsters, the city is very adult-friendly too, with lots of world-class restaurants, entertainment offerings and nightlife options. Event management firm Cvent consistently names Orlando one of the top three convention destinations in the nation, and in fact, we boast the second-largest convention facility in America, which means tons of annual grown-up visits to the City Beautiful. On top of that, even without tourism, we’re a huge and thriving metro area—one of the top thirty in the United States in terms of population. One third of our over two million residents are between 20 and 44, and we tend to both work hard and play hard. Whether you’re planning to go where the locals go or stick closer to the tourist or convention areas, here are Central Florida’s best nightlife choices.
This is one of the areas that locals flock to for a night out. Catch an Orlando Magic game at the Amway Center or a live show at the Social. Enjoy a meal at one of dozens of restaurants or a drink at one of a huge variety of nightclubs and bars. Favorites include Casey’s, FinnHenry’s and Vixen Bar. Park in a garage—my favorite is across from the library at 112 E. Central Blvd.—and walk this vibrant district.
Just north of Orlando, the suburb of Winter Park boasts a popular and upscale nightlife scene centered around both Park Avenue and nearby Hannibal Square. Park Avenue has more offerings, with boutique shopping, upscale restaurants (Try Luma or Prato!), sidewalk cafes, and trendy wine bars lining the picturesque street.
The nightlife district at Universal Studios is a little touristy, but locals love it too. Park in the Universal garage and ride the moving sidewalk in for a huge variety of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It’s also the home of a movie theater, Hard Rock Live and Blue Man Group. Don’t miss the late-night dueling pianos at Pat O’Brien’s or the live reggae music at Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom.
Disney’s entertainment district is in the midst of a major renovation, but it’s still a thriving center of fun. This is where you’ll find La Nouba by Cirque de Soleil, the House of Blues, an AMC movie theater, plenty of shopping and a bowling alley as well as many restaurants, including Raglan Road and Paradiso 37, which stay open late and offer live entertainment.
Popular with convention-goers thanks to its proximity to the Orange County Convention Center, this sprawling compound offers a movie theater, a comedy club, and lots of shopping, dining and imbibing options. B.B. King’s is a great place to hear live music while you dine; Taverna Opa offers a raucous Greek environment; and Adobe Gila’s has tons of outdoor space to enjoy the fresh Florida air.