Where to hear live music, kick it with friends, drink and dance in Orlando


Amway Center

400 W. Church St., amwaycenter.com

Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Stevie Nicks have all made the Amway a tour stop – this big league arena also is home to the Magic and the Solar Bears, only a few steps from downtown.


37 W. Pine St., backbooth.com

Backbooth pulls off the deft balancing act of hosting late-night dance affairs like Floorplay and Midnight Mass alongside earlier, all-ages-friendly shows with everyone from Mitski to straight-edge pioneers Judge. Check out Shake & Bass Sunday for a night dedicated to the bump and grind.

The Beacham

46 N. Orange Ave., thebeacham.com

The downtown concert venue provides a much-needed home for larger-scale shows in the center of the city – think Sleep, Run the Jewels or Dinosaur Jr. The open floor provides multiple pathways to edge your way up to the front, though good luck navigating tightly packed crowds.

CFE Arena

12777 N. Gemini Blvd., cfearena.com

The erstwhile UCF Arena has moved well beyond the status of student venue. The complex seats roughly 10,000 and hosts pop, rock and hip-hop, as well as comedy and other events. It's a welcome connection between UCF and the broader show-going populace of the city.

Hard Rock Live

6050 Universal Blvd., hardrock.com/live

Venture deep into the heart of Universal's CityWalk entertainment complex for entertainment that straddles mainstream (the 1975), nostalgic (Bryan Ferry) and outside-the-lines (Slayer) all at once.

The Haven Lounge

6700 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, thehavenrocks.com

The musical menu on offer at this roomy Winter Park club is loud, heavy, metal and that's pretty much it. A perfect landing spot for distortion that's a little too big for the likes of Uncle Lou's. Top-shelf sound and lights, too.

House of Blues

1490 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, houseofblues.com

Shows may start on the early side, but that's really the only overt sign that this concert venue is nestled in the Disney Springs adult playground. Expect to see anything from the Roots to the Flaming Lips. The sightlines and sound system are recommended.

The Plaza Live

425 N. Bumby Ave., plazaliveorlando.com

This Milk District mainstay has found a new footing in partnership with the Orlando Philharmonic, hosting shows by the Phil plus a wide-ranging slate of '80s icons, guitar legends and comics.

Sandwich Bar

2432 E. Robinson St., facebook.com/sandwichbarorlando

Usually known for more DJ-oriented dance nights – house legends and upstarts have held court, along with vaporwave and other outsider sounds – this Milk District venue provides a home for the more adventurous and underground end of the local music spectrum.

The Social

54 N. Orange Ave., thesocial.org

A chill, intimate downtown space often packed to the gills with the devoted, straining to get as close as possible to their favorite touring artist. Artists such as Point Point, Said the Sky, and Big Wild have made appearances here. The stage is so close to the pit that you can practically reach out and touch the band.

Timucua White House

2000 S. Summerlin Ave., timucua.com

A truly unique live music experience. Tucked away in an unassuming South Orlando neighborhood, the White House (for it is indeed a house) offers incredible natural acoustics, a near cathedral-like setting and an adventurous event slate.

Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall

1016 N. Mills Ave.

What Uncle Lou's lacks in space, it doesn't lack in grit. Local and national acts – particularly experimental, punk and noise artists – roll through this dim club reminiscent of a house show.

Will's Pub

1042 N. Mills Ave., willspub.org

The indie music scene flourishes here, with tons of performances every week from Orlando bands and mid-level out-of-towners. The venue is also connected to Lil Indies, a tiny bar with a stellar seasonal cocktail menu.



60 N. Orange Ave., aeroorlando.com

Rooftop lounge with multiple bars, covered seating, and a spacious area for dancing under the night sky. No cover.

Gilt Nightclub

740 Bennett Road, giltnightclub.com

The lushly renovated, 10-bar, dual-dancefloor nightclub Gilt is a significant upgrade from a previous incarnation as the Roxy, so put on your essential attire and dance the night away to the tunes of some of the dirtiest EDM producers. HTG Events hosts "Encore Saturdays," where they've booked top acts such as Adventure Club and Zeds Dead.

Independent Bar

70 N. Orange Ave., facebook.com/independentbarorlando

Downtown multi-room nightclub with three bars and cheap drink specials. Wednesdays are reserved for throwback Mac and Cheese Nights, which, while they're as cheesy as you'd expect, make for a fun night out.

Ono Nightclub

1 S. Orange Ave., ononightclub.com

This two-level downtown superclub knows the devil is in the details, boasting three bars and seven private cabanas, but the focus is on a dance floor soundtracked by a rotating cast of local and touring DJs.

Parliament House

410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, parliamenthouse.com

Resort by day, bumping club by night. Some of the most locally (and nationally) popular drag queens perform in the Footlight Theatre and the main room, while various bars and plenty of room to dance can be found elsewhere.

Peek Downtown

50B E. Central Blvd.

Peek has a simple layout and a lack of glitz, but the electronic music dropped by the DJs is enough to promote a groovy environment where dancing shoes are a must.

Southern Nights

375 S. Bumby Ave., facebook.com/southernnightsorlando

Themed parties like Christmas in July and Power Rangers aren't all the sprawling nightclub has to offer. Drag queens and burlesque troupes often rule the night, along with drink specials, house music, and clubgoers getting into the groove.

Tier Nightclub

20 E. Central Blvd., tiernightclub.com

Large-ish nightclub with luxurious areas for VIP bottle service. Not much elbow room on the dance floor, but elbowing your way to a slice and some bubbly on Pizza & Champagne nights seems worth it.


22 S. Magnolia Ave., vainorlando.com

Vain operates under the maxim that bigger is indeed better, sprawling out over a massive three levels, with a packed calendar of dance events and celebrity guest dates including, recently, Waka Flocka Flame.

Venue 578

578 N. Orange Ave., venue578.com

Two-floor club with three indoor stages, bumping sound systems, and killer lighting. Check out some of the heaviest bass and house acts, like Datsik and Shiba San, in a setting that's more intimate than a stadium show. "Create," the newest Thursday-night concert series by Alliance Nightlife, promotes some of the newer popular (and local) artists. Some shows offer free entry before 11 p.m. or tickets as cheap as $10.

Vinyl Arts Bar

75 E. Colonial Drive, facebook.com/vinylartsbar

This newish beer and wine spot in the North Quarter brings classy decor and an all-vinyl DJ regimen to the neighborhood; event bookings have expanded to include literary readings and art events beside the requisite DJ nights and guest appearances.


Bar Louie

4100 N. Alafaya, barlouie.com

Steps away from campus, Bar Louie is a great place to chug down some cold ones and eat a filling meal. You don't have to break your college budget to have fun, either ­– burgers with tots or fries are only $5 on Tuesday from 5 p.m. to closing.

Big Daddy's

3001 Corrine Drive, bigdaddysorlando.com

Karaoke is no joke at Big Daddy's; these people take their fun very, very seriously. You can be off-tune and breathy, but as long as you're committed, you'll get some applause at this singing shack.

Chillers, Cahoots, Latitudes

33 W. Church St., churchstreetbars.com

Three-story club megaplex with cheap drink specials. Grab a frozen daiquiri from Chillers on the first floor, play arcade games at Cahoots, and party it up all the way to Latitudes on the rooftop.

The Courtesy Bar

114 N. Orange Ave., thecourtesybar.com

If you're more about the finer sips in life, visit the Courtesy Bar for artful, handcrafted cocktails in a refined setting. Let these mixologists cater to you.

Fiddlers Green

544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park,  fiddlersgreen.pub

Winter Park-area Irish pub close to Rollins College offers up authentic grub and a variety of draft ales, lagers and stouts in a cozy environment.

Frosty's Christmastime Lounge

50 E. Central Blvd., frostys-orlando.com

'Tis the season eternally at this holiday-themed spot downtown, serving up liquor, beer and a custom menu of "fortified" snowball drinks.

The Guesthouse

1321 N. Mills Ave.

For a solid happy hour and refreshing ambience, do your drinking at the Guesthouse. They make a mean Moscow mule.

Herman's Loan Office

22 W. Pine St., hermansloanoffice.com

This 75-year-old location of a pawnshop and loan shark office is now a cozy, yet sophisticated craft cocktail spot for downtown Orlando. Refine your liquor palate with these expert mixologists. 

The Hideaway Bar

516 Virginia Drive, thehideawaybar.net

The Hideaway on Virginia Drive is the quintessential casual sports bar – it's not Miller's Ale House-intense, but there is a rabid Miami Dolphins allegiance that you won't miss. The Hideaway is also that rare sports bar where artists, hairdressers and theater folk feel right at home.

The Imperial

1800 N. Orange Ave., imperialwinebar.com

Nestled among Washburn Imports' stately tables and armoires, the Imperial reigns as one of Orlando's truly singular watering holes. The bar offers a no-nonsense craft bottle and draft list, coupled with a stout card of white and red wines, and is one of the only spots to check out live music in Ivanhoe Village.

Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar

The Landing Boat Dock, Lake Buena Vista

Get away from the screaming children at Disney Springs by dipping into this dive bar fashioned from a 1940s airplane hangar. Quote the best lines from Indiana Jones while you slurp down a Cool-headed Monkey mixed drink.

Joysticks Arcade Lounge

69 E. Pine St., joysticksorlando.com

This gamer haven in the heart of downtown goes all-in on the '80s arcade nostalgia trip – heavy on the neon and day-glo. Come for the vintage arcade games, stay for the cocktails and craft beers.

Knight Library

11448 University Blvd., knightlibrary.com

The classic rite-of-passage for UCF students when they turn 21, Knight Library offers wild parties, cheap beer and a guaranteed wild night.

The Knight's Pub

3910 N. Alafaya Trail, facebook.com/theknightspuborlando

Owned by UCF alumni, Knight's Pub is the kind of traditional college bar where you know you'll have a good time on game days.

Lucky Lure

1427 N. Orange Ave.

Hanging out at the Lucky Lure on a sunny afternoon is so much like being at the beach that it's a surprise to find the scuffed-up concrete floor doesn't have sand on it. The huge selection of great beer (cans only; they'll give you a coozie if you ask) is complemented by strong cocktails and your favorite beachy staple: the frozen drink.

Mathers Social Gathering

30 S. Magnolia Ave., mathersorlando.com

Mathers is decked out in early 20th-century opulence, from comfortable leather armchairs to polished wooden bookcases. Just know that you're going to have to pay a steep price for the privilege of drinking anything here. There's also a dress code, so no shorts, guys.

Olde 64

64 N. Orange Ave., olde64.com

Olde 64 is, thankfully, not a fancy bar – the owners embrace the no-frills divey ethos that makes a good watering hole a classic and offer drink specials that'll get you in the door, and a nonpretentious atmo that'll make you stick around.

The Public House

12046 Collegiate Way, publichousefl.com

Less college seniors, more graduate students, the Public House is more of a chillaxing spot than a full-on party bar. Pick your drink from a selection of 24 draughts and a full liquor bar.


1913 N. Orange Ave., savoyorlando.com

With cocktails as low as $2, this Ivanhoe Village gay bar tends to be an everyone bar, especially earlier in the evening, and at those prices, it can be hard to tell when the drink specials end and the night returns to status quo.

Shark Bar at T-Rex Café

1676 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista

Walk straight past the packs of families waiting to eat next to a dinosaur and sit underneath the tentacles of a giant octopus above the bar. Get a Raptor Rita mix and lose yourself in the colorful swarm of jellyfish above your head.

Sly Fox

63 N. Orange Ave.

A dive-ish bar run by some of the folks behind the old Bar-BQ-Bar, Sly Fox offers cheap drinks, a chill atmosphere and a cool photobooth to document your drunken escapades.

Stagger Inn UCF

12190 Collegiate Way, staggerinnorlando.com

Stagger Inn does not play. UCF's only country bar is always up for a good time, with or without wide-brimmed hats.

Wall Street Plaza

26 Wall St., wallstplaza.net

If you have no problem stumbling around with hundreds of other drunken people, block parties at Wall Street Plaza are the place you need to be: Weekends are madness. You can do a whole lot of drinking at eight different venues, but each has its own vibe. You'll probably need to try them all.

Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors

1001 N. Mills Ave., wallysonmills.com

Orlando's premiere dive bar has strong booze and naked-lady wallpaper, which is all you really need to know. Come here often enough and you might spot local attorney John Morgan buying a round for everyone.

Whiskey Lou's Lounge

121 N. Bumby Ave.

A true Orlando classic and one of the city's best-known dive bars; the Milk District's answer to Mills 50's Wally's keeps the super-strong drinks flowing fast and furious. Taking a selfie with the statues of Elvis Presley and the Blues Brothers that permanently adorn the stage is mandatory at some point in your Orlando career. Warning: cash-only.