Watering holes


UCF college haunts

Knight Library
11448 University Blvd., knightlibrary.com
Named one of the top college bars in the country by thedailymeal.com, Knight Library has four bars, beer pong, tons of drink specials and notoriously gross bathrooms, just like any respectable college bar should.

Knights Pub
3910 Alafaya Trail, 407-382-4171, knightspuborlando.com
One of the newer UCF-area bars, Knights Pub caters to the college crowd: DJ nights, game-day specials and weekly drink specials that’ll be easy on the average college student’s wallet.

The Moat Sports Grille
4250 Alafaya Trail, 407-542-4938, themoatsportsgrille.com
Tons of craft beers, plus domestics and beer “floats” and drinks. Get half off all craft and import drafts and $1 off craft and import bottles on Thursdays.

Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery
11650 University Blvd.,
Pub grub and cold beer served in an Irish/Scottish-themed bar, with college-aged waitresses wearing kilts.

Tried and true downtown hangs

39 N. Orange Ave., 407-648-0100, finnhenrys.com
A little more neighborly
appreciation of sports can
be found downtown at Finnhenry’s, where a halo of TVs displaying an array of sporting events rings the central bar. The pub is a throwback to old public houses of yore, sporting cozy high-top tables and tons of bar seating.

The Celt Irish Pub
25 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-481-2928, harpandcelt.com
You like wood? Like lots of it? How about some awesome beer? Well, the Celt bids you “céad míle fáilte” and it’s the closest downtown Orlando gets to a genuine Irish pub experience. Pound a plate of Irish nachos, slide over a few pints of Guinness, and you won’t want to be anywhere else for the rest of the evening – probably because your legs will stop working at some point. This traditional Celtic haven feels like home from the moment you walk through the door till you part ways and stumble on home. 

Independent Bar
70 N. Orange Ave.
I-Bar is hipster central; there’s no other way to put it, which makes it a target for teasing, sure, but it also means that you always have a story to tell after a night there.

Wall Street Plaza
19 N. Orange Ave.,
407-849-0471, wallstplaza.net
Special occasions, from New Year’s Eve to Oktoberfest, belong to this meeting place for the masses. Located at the epicenter of downtown Orlando, and always throbbing with music, booze and vitality, Wall Street Plaza and its eight venues take up an entire city block, but it’s easy to navigate, heavy on drink specials and stocked with eye candy for all. It’s not exactly upscale, but it gets the job done with laughter, music and a hangover souvenir.

Divey favorites

Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors
1001 N. Mills Ave.,
When you walk into Wally’s, you’ll find a devoted crowd of seasoned regulars who mean serious drinking business. It’s smoky, it’s dark, and if you can find a seat (there are maybe 25 total) at the bar, stiff cocktails are coming your way. Those looking for booze on the go can purchase from the liquor store that makes up one side of the joint.

Whiskey Lou’s Lounge
101 N. Bumby Ave.,
Always a good time at this raucous dive bar, which is best known for its cheap drinks, heavy pours, bright neon sign marking it as a haven for drinkers and its life-sized Blues Brothers mannequins.

Craft hotspots

Oblivion Taproom
5101 E. Colonial Drive,
407-802-4800, obliviontaproom.com
One of the city’s better beer bars sits, unexpectedly, on a forgettable strip of Colonial Drive with 40 beers on tap and more available by the bottle. But the meaty bar bites – inventive burgers especially – are what sets this place apart from the rest.

Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour
2810 Corrine Drive, 407-893-9832, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com
Orlando’s much-lauded and cornucopia-est craft beer spot has to clear room for another placard, this time landing on Draft Magazine’s 2013 list of best American beer bars. Redlight Redlight grew from a small Park Avenue boutique into the 23-draft, 250-plus-bottle wonderland on Corrine Drive today.

World of Beer
3402 Technological Ave., 321-235-9741; 7800 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-355-3315; 155 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs, 407-834-2337, wobusa.com
This Tampa-based craft-beer chain now has three franchise locations in Orlando, and they all have one very important thing in common: They are temples to craft beer, with tons of changing drafts, walls of coolers full of enough bottled beer to drown an elephant and a laid-back, friendly environment in which to consume it.

Live music

37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570, backbooth.com
Doubling as a live music venue for the underground’s best bands and a dance club for some of Orlando’s favorite theme nights, Backbooth is a place to gain a new favorite song or lose yourself entirely to the party. Discover why devoted nightcrawlers are downright religious about its Midnight Mass.

The Haven Lounge
6700 Aloma Ave., Winter
Park, 407-673-2712, thehavenrocks.com
Fans of metal, here’s your place. Nearly every night of the week, the Haven (near Full Sail University) features live bands, tribute nights and even open mics.

The Social
54 N. Orange Ave.
Local bands strive to perform on this stage, the one shared with most of the Pitchfork-worthy bands that come through Orlando. It’s a smaller room, which means nine times out of 10, you’re shouting the lyrics shoulder-to-shoulder with similarly impassioned fans. Get there early and snag a table in front of the pit.

Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road
The Stardust main room provides a den that welcomes all the weird ideas its devoted community cooks up in terms of live music performances, original plays, performance art and a haven for awesome music.

Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall
1016 N. Mills Ave.
There is perhaps no private business in the city that has become a DIY community venue so organically and authentically. Besides the street culture that its barflies provide, the fringes of the music scene have also adopted this joint as their clubhouse. Although known for its punk shows, its day-to-day offerings can be disorientingly diverse. Truly the strangest cross-section of Orlando’s music underground.

Will’s Pub
1042 N. Mills Ave.
If you are a fan of punk, metal, garage, Americana or all of the above, you need to get down to Will’s Pub. This grizzled venue is an Orlando tradition that provides stacked lineups and a huge beer selection and is home to the much-loved
Southern Fried Sundays.

Winter Park watering holes

Fiddler’s Green
544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2050, fiddlersgreenorlando.com
This Fairbanks Avenue Irish bar and restaurant is a popular spot for Rollins College students to stop for a beer and a bite to eat. Though the atmosphere is not typical college-bar wild, it’s cozy and warm, like a good Irish pub should be.

Spatz Deli, Billiards & Liquor
1025 W. Fairbanks Ave.,
Winter Park, 407-647-3354, spatzwp.com
Just a stone’s throw away from the Rollins College campus, this low-key joint has pool tables, darts, arcade games and cheap drinks. It’s popular with the Rollins crowd, and unlike a lot of the bars and restaurants in the Park Avenue area, it’s open past midnight on most nights.

Club life

Firestone Live
578 N. Orange Ave.
Is it a venue or a club? With some of the best EDM nights in town (don’t miss Ignition on Thursday nights), it doesn’t matter which way Firestone swings, because there’s no other place like it in Orlando and the crowds always come.

5688 International Drive, 407-352-8838, luxorlando.com
Orlando’s permanent high-decibel DJ dance party spot has a staggering number of revolving events and performers. If you’re just sitting at home staring at your lollipop/soother/glow-stick collection, you should probably spray on some glitter and get on over there.

Ono Nightclub
1 S. Orange Ave., 407-701-9875, ononightclub.com
This is a new arrival on the Orlando dance club scene and it seems to be doing just fine. The club’s got a super-chic design, the lighting is great and the DJs are top-notch.

22 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-835-3590, vainorlando.com
If you happen to be wearing your heels, just got your hair did and you’re smelling good … and you’re walking around downtown looking for a party, you should definitely hop into Vain. The crowd is always a mix of young and old, and the DJs, some of whom are VH1 reality celebs – we’re looking at you, Brian Dawe – are always spinning the right tracks.

20 E. Central Blvd., 407-317-9129, tiernightclub.com
This massive 10,000-square-foot club features open-format music Tuesdays through Saturdays, and it specializes in the VIP experience. If you’re a local celeb, or just want to feel like one, Tier is the place to go to make yourself feel fancy.

Gay bars

The Parliament House
410 N. Orange Blossom
Trail, 407-425-7571, parliamenthouse.com
The sprawling Parliament House Resort is widely lauded as the premier LGBT – and, some would even argue, straight – nightlife destination in town. The clubs and bars scattered throughout the complex attract throngs of revelers, and come Gay Days, it’s raining men.

1912 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-3888, pulseorlandoclub.com
Every night has something different in store, but Pulse is known to have some pretty impressive drag shows, and the bar’s dancers are usually gorgeous.

1913 N. Orange Ave., (407) 898-6766, savoyorlando.com
Savoy has always been a good place to go to have some low-key fun and see some familiar gay or gay-friendly faces.

Stonewall Bar
741 W. Church St.,
407-373-0888, stonewallorlando.com
This laid-back neighborhood bar, complete with a pool table, dartboards and an antique wine press that’s quite the conversation piece, has a casual vibe, made all the more so by motel lobby furniture and a menu of standard pub fare.