16 Orlando destination bars that are more than just a place to grab a drink

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Wall Street Plaza: More than just block parties
With seven bars lining its brick-paved pedestrian walkway, it’s no surprise Wall Street Plaza is known as downtown Orlando’s party central – particularly on the weekends, when 20somethings gravitate to the epic block parties and liquor-infused events that transform the space from quirky daytime lunch spot or happy-hour hang to full-tilt nightlife hotspot. … Read more.

26 Wall St. | wallstplaza.net

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Inside Wall Street Plaza bar Hooch, the front of this old classic vehicle hides a DJ booth; the giant moon on the wall was commissioned by an artist.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Hang 10: Aku Aku Tiki Bar

First things first: Not all tiki bars are created equal. “Tiki-philes are very particular about certain things,” says Todd Ulmer, operating partner of Aku Aku Tiki Bar. You can’t just put some bamboo and longboards in your bar and call it a tiki bar, he says – you have to do your research. … Read more
431 E. Central Blvd. | akuakutiki.com

Photo via Rob Bartlett
The walls at at Aku Aku are decorated with tiki-related art and objects.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
CityWalk’s Rising Star

If you’re into karaoke, check this out – rather than singing along to a pre-recorded track, at Rising Star you get a backup band and singers so you can really show people how good (or bad) you are.

6000 Universal Blvd. | universalorlando.com

Photo via Universal Orlando
Ember

You’ll feel like you’re sipping your drinks in a Mediterranean plaza when you’re sitting on the patio at this impressively sprawling indoor/outdoor bar in downtown Orlando.

42 W. Central Blvd. | emberorlando.com

Photo via Ember
Hanson’s Shoe Repair

This 1930s speakeasy-themed spot doesn’t play around – you have to call in advance to get the password, which will be texted to you with a time during which you can arrive, if you want to get in. Once inside, it’s elbow room only, but the decor (and the exquisite craft cocktails) truly transports you to another era.

27 E. Pine St., hansonsshoerepair.com

Photo via Hanson's
The Big Chill: IceBar

The first thing you need to know about Icebar, opened by Orlando resident Patz Turner in 2008 after she visited an icebar in Sweden, is that you will absolutely want to wear the parkas and gloves the “ice princesses” at the front door offer you with your admission fee ($12.95 if you buy online, $19.95 and up at the door). It’s literally freezing inside the Icebar. … Read more about Icebar

8967 International Drive | icebarorlando.com

Photo via Rob Bartlett
A giant polar bear carved out of ice takes center stage at the Icebar. 
Photo via Rob Bartlett
A giant polar bear carved out of ice takes center stage at the Icebar.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Stardust Lounge

This 1960s Vegas-themed bar, from the creators of Mucho Tacos and Tequila and Aku Aku Tiki Bar, is Orlando’s Space Age bachelor pad. Catch some burlesque, lounge on a red faux-leather banquette or play some pool in a venue that transports you to the Rat Pack era.

431 E. Central Blvd. | stardustorlando.com

Photo via Yelp
Shark Bar, T-Rex Cafe

At the Shark Bar inside the T-Rex Cafe, which probably attracts more extended families with kids (drawn, no doubt, by the animatronic dinosaurs and mammoths that roar and crane their necks at diners) than single people headed out for drinks, the bar is neither childish nor cheesy – rather, it’s stunning and graceful, with its massive saltwater shark tanks tucked into the arms of a giant octopus. Once seated at the bar, it’s actually surprising how sophisticated and comfortable it feels. Read more

1676 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista | trexcafe.com

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Despite its over-the-top decor, the Shark Bar is a surprisingly soothing place for a cocktail.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
The Lodge

For you northerners who miss hanging out après ski at the bars near the slopes, the closest thing you’ll find in Orlando is the Lodge, where you can sip whiskey (or whatever) in a rustic lodge-themed setting. If you’re freaked out by taxidermy, beware: The walls are festooned with mounted animal heads.

49 N. Orange Ave. | downtownlodge.com

Photo via Yelp
Exceeding expectations: The Boathouse

If you haven’t had a reason to visit Downtown Disney – soon to be rebranded Disney Springs – lately, there’s a new bar/eatery located on the lagoon that gives locals a good reason to go back. It’s called the Boathouse, and its tagline – “great food, waterfront dining, dream boats” – is spot on. … Read more

1620 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista | theboathouseorlando.com

Photo via Rob Bartlett
The docks outside the Boathouse are lined with vintage watercraft.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Parliament House Resort 
This sprawling gay (and straight-friendly) resort doesn’t have one specific theme, unless that theme is partying it up. There’s usually so much going on you’re not likely to get bored here. Have dinner at the Rainbow Cafe, catch a show at the Footlight Theater, have a drink by the pool, dance in the club, repeat. Party too hard? There’s also a motel on site so you can get a room and stay over. 
410 N. Orange Blossom Trail | parliamenthouse.com
Photo via Facebook
Parliament House Resort

This sprawling gay (and straight-friendly) resort doesn’t have one specific theme, unless that theme is partying it up. There’s usually so much going on you’re not likely to get bored here. Have dinner at the Rainbow Cafe, catch a show at the Footlight Theater, have a drink by the pool, dance in the club, repeat. Party too hard? There’s also a motel on site so you can get a room and stay over.

410 N. Orange Blossom Trail | parliamenthouse.com

Photo via Facebook
Minus 5 Ice Bar

Locally owned Icebar Orlando was the first of its kind in Orlando, but then the Minus 5 icebar chain opened a location just down the road at Pointe Orlando. The theme is pretty much the same – a bar made completely of ice.

Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive | orlandoicebar.com

Photo via Gothamist
Branching out: The Treehouse

You know a bar is dedicated to its theme when they even take the scents wafting through the air into consideration – at the Treehouse, one of downtown Orlando’s newest speakeasies, you catch the distinct aroma of pine needles after you climb the stairs carpeted in fake grass and decorated with tree limbs (and even a tree swing hanging overhead), which give you the feeling that you’re about to walk into an elf’s apartment. … Read more

located in the vicinity of 68 E. Pine St. | thetreehouseorlando.com

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Even the stairwell leading up to the Treehouse is true to the bar's theme. 
Photo via Rob Bartlett
Even the stairwell leading up to the Treehouse is true to the bar's theme.

Photo via Rob Bartlett
Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe

This authentic German beer hall not only offers German music (accordions, yodeling, spoons!), it also serves “das boot” – beer served in giant liter and three-liter glasses, which you’re expected to pass around the table and chug while the crowd cheers you on. No pressure.

205 E. First St., Sanford | willowtreecafe.com

Photo via Hollerbach Willow Tree Cafe Instagram
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