Bars and pubs in Orlando really do come in all shapes and sizes. Stay at your theme park of choice and you’ll find spacious live music venues and open-air bars seating hundreds of people at a time – often hosting nightly performances to keep the crowds entertained.

    Adventurous vacationers interested in venturing into the city’s lively Downtown area won’t be disappointed either. Around Church Street and North Orange Avenue, there are dozens of bars offering something a little different, from tiny local watering holes to fancy cocktail bars and even a few rooftops. Orlando isn’t in short supply of lakes either, so we’ve also thrown in a couple of idyllic drinking spots good for a sundowner or 2 next to the water.

    Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar sits just off International Drive, not too far away from Disney. Pay a visit during daylight hours and what you’ll find is a pretty standard Mexican joint, with all the usual taco, enchilada, and tortilla offerings. This hugely popular bar really comes alive after dark when the crowd descends upon the spacious bar, migrating away from the slightly less-social booths at the back.

    On the drinks front, we shouldn’t even have to tell you what the house specialty is… tequila, of course, and lots of it! And when we say ‘lots’ we mean 425 different varieties, or so they claim. Order one of their signature margaritas or just shoot the stuff back if it’s not a work night.

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    Location: Plaza Venezia, 7468 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11.30 am to 2 am, Saturdays from 11 am to 2 am, Sundays from 11 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 407-226-0550


    For cocktails, Hanson's Shoe Repair is about as unique a place as you’ll find in Orlando. Intimate might be an understatement at this former cobbler’s shop-turned-speakeasy rooftop bar, with only a dozen or so seats and standing space for around 20 people.

    Take your spot at the dilapidated main bar to chew the fat with the bartender, or head outside to the slightly more modern (but just as compact) rooftop terrace to catch the live band or a movie screening. Explore Hanson’s impressive cocktail menu as much as your liver allows – it’s rated as one of the best in the city.

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    Location: 27 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday and Saturdays from 8 pm to 2 am, Friday from 5 pm to 2 am, Sunday from 3 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +1 407-476-9446


    The Lucky Lure

    There are so many great lakes on Orlando, but not so many great watering holes that take advantage of the tropical views to be had, particularly at dusk. The Lucky Lure, however, is a fine exception to the rule, offering a range of beers, wines and a small but interesting line-up of liquor and hooch in an open-air setting right by Lake Ivanhoe.

    There’s absolutely nothing glamorous about the décor – in fact, it pretty much falls into ‘dive bar’ status with its complete lack of grooming, but that’s all part of Lucky Lure’s charm. Make sure you arrive in time for a cold beer as the sun sets over the water. There’s also a pool table, foosball table, and live sports screens to keep you occupied for the rest of the night.

    Location: 1427 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32804, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 3 pm to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from 12 pm to 2 pm

    Phone: +1 407-250-6949


    World of Beer at Lake Eola

    World of Beer is a modern beer bar next to Orlando’s central-most lake at Eola Park, in the very heart of Downtown. WOB has hundreds of bottles imported from every corner of the planet, with a focus on US craft ales and European pale ales. The setting is just as good, particularly if you grab a table outside amid the leafy surrounds of the park, with the water of Lake Eola just a few meters away from you and your cold glass of beer. There’s also a hearty menu of wings, tacos, burgers, sandwiches and other stodgy mains to soak up all that ale.

    Location: 431 E Central Blvd Ste B, Orlando, FL 32801, USA

    Open: Sunday–Wednesday from 11 am to midnight, Thursday–Saturday from 11 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 407-270-5541



    Jellyrolls promises a lively night with 2 pianists on stage battling it out with classical takes on popular hit songs, as well as requests from the crowd. Audience participation is more than encouraged, with sing-alongs and even audience members being invited up to take the place of one the pianists. An adults-only bar on Disney’s Boardwalk, there's a cover charge of around $12. Think of Jellyrolls as more of a live show (this is Disney after all) and you won’t leave disappointed – unless pianos really aren’t your thing.

    Location: Disney’s Boardwalk, 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +1 407-560-8770


    photo by elisfkc (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    The Courtesy

    A must-visit for cocktail lovers, The Courtesy mixes things up with some inventive takes on all the classics, as well as evolving their drinks menu regularly. They’ve got about 10 different kinds of absinthe and 3 different cocktails on tap, just going to show how seriously the young and friendly team behind The Courtesy take their liquor. It’s a classy affair inside, with exposed brickwork, dangling fairy lights and a tiled floor, all helping to create an industrial-chic look that never goes too over the top.

    Location: 114 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Monday from 7 pm to 2 am, Sundays from 3 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +1 407-450-2041


    Imperial Wine Bar

    Imperial Wine Bar is a non-nonsense beer and wine bar at the top of North Orange Avenue near Lake Ivanhoe. It oozes a definite rustic charm, with its no-frills wooden tables and collection of worldly trinkets cobbled together behind the bar. The venue is actually part of Washburn Imports, a popular furniture retailer specializing in Asian items. Craft beers are a big deal in Orlando, and The Imperial offers around 40 different varieties and about the same number of wines by the bottle.

    Location: 1800 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 5 pm to midnight, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 2 am, Sunday from 5 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 407-228-4992


    A glance at House of Blue’s (HOB) impressive calendar of events and it’s clear to see that this is one venue that takes its live music seriously. They’ve got some huge homegrown and international names booked in on a regular basis. The massive venue is divided up into several zones, include a dining room, laidback bar area, and the main concert hall, which is where the music happens. Non-blues fans shouldn’t be put off either; HOB is much more than just soft rock, with everything from EDM to pop, acoustic solo artists to thrash metal, attracting hundreds of fans every week.

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    Location: Disney Springs, 1490 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11.30 am to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11.30 am to 1 am

    Phone: +1 407-934-2583


    Howl at the Moon

    Howl at the Moon is a popular nightlife chain with some 20 locations nationwide. The premise of this Orlando spot is no different, creating a high-energy show with live piano performances. The show really relies on audience participation, as well as the multi-talented backup band, with singing, dancing, clapping and even stomping all encouraged. Must-tries at Howl at the Moon are its sweet cocktails available by the bucket.

    Location: 8815 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819, USA

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 7 pm to 1.45 am, Friday from 6 pm to 1.45 am

    Phone: +1 407-354-5999

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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