Tired of going out to bars where the only form of entertainment is standing around or watching TV? Dancing not your style? Sick of being made fun of for dressing up like your favorite video-game character? Good thing this is Orlando, where there are bars for every entertainment preference. Plus, bar games have come a long way since the days when darts, billiards, Pac-Man and pinball were the only options. Score a spot at the bar of one of these Orlando watering holes, from glorified bowling alleys to casino-like arcades, smoky pool halls to nerdy nightclubs, where leveled-up libations are perfect for you to get your game on.
1205 N. Mills Ave., 407-796-2522; bartcade.com
This dim den of nerdiness is where craft beer geeks and classic game-lovers mingle with pints in one hand and joysticks in the other. The cozy beer bar, arcade and art gallery in the Mills 50 district sports a rotating variety of classic, mostly free arcade games like Asteroids and Frogger, along with an impressive array of suds, cider, wine and mead.
2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258; sportstownbilliards.com
A historic Milk District institution, this smoke-filled dive bar is much more than your average pool hall. Aside from the numerous tables that can be rented by the hour, here you'll find table tennis, air hockey, basketball shootout, darts, foosball and board games in addition to a menu of more than 250 craft beers and plenty of greasy bar fare. Just don't expect to leave without a nicotine addiction.
Frank & Stein's
150 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-412-9230; frankandsteins.com
Bro it out at this downtown Orlando brewpub, where a raucous crowd of college-aged kids and weekend warriors binge on gourmet hot dogs and a draught list that runs 40 taps deep. If friendly competition suits your style better than the sports blaring from wall-to-wall flat-screen TVs, get off your butt and test your skills on shuffleboard, Golden Tee, Skee-ball and darts. Or, if you'd prefer to stay seated, there are plenty of board games to choose from as well.
The Geek Easy
114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 407-332-9636; mygeekeasy.com
If the Justice League ever assembled in the Orlando area, it would happen here. Carved out from A Comic Shop, this cave-like lounge acts as a meeting place, watering hole and café for geeks of all fandoms, and can be considered ground zero for nerdy nightlife. It even has a history of attracting big-name talent from the comic book world. Come for the monthly Nerd Nite events and weekly karaoke and trivia, but stay for the specialty drinks, beer, sake, burgers, sandwiches and sweets.
The Cloak and Blaster
875 Woodbury Road, 407-674-7435; cloakandblaster.com
Where else can you enjoy a pint at a classic pub while owning noobs at Call of Duty: Black Ops III bar-side? Tucked away in the Shoppes at Waterford Lakes, the fantasy-themed tavern is the perfect place to don your favorite cosplay and take your pick from an expansive library of tabletop games, as well as Xbox One and Wii-U video games. Tell all the friends you met online to join you IRL for one of the trivia nights, gameplay tournaments, karaoke nights, costume contests and parties that happen here. Then refresh your mana with close to 100 varieties of craft beer, cider and mead and a full menu of hearty pub fare.
Firkin and Kegler
12850 Waterford Lakes Parkway, 407-373-7444; fkorlando.com
Your inner child dreams of having their adult birthday party here. The combination pub, bowling alley, arcade, billiards and darts hall is a great place to come with friends and a terrible place to come if you're antisocial. The giant projected TV screens over the lanes make for ample distraction from lack of bowling skills, and the bar almost makes you forget you're all the way out in Waterford Lakes.
8255 International Drive, 407-363-0200; kingsbowlamerica.com
If a casino and a bowling alley had a baby, it would be Kings. High-end cocktails and a chef-designed menu seem somewhat out of place set against the clatter of pins falling and the clack of the cue ball, but, hey, it's International Drive, where anything is possible. Try not to spill your martini on your expensive footwear when you rent a round of bocce ball, corn hole, ping pong, foosball or shuffleboard.
Dave & Busters
8986 International Drive, 407-541-3300; daveandbusters.com
Try to hold in your excitement when your childhood dreams come true at this temple-like arcade. Stockpile tickets and redeem for prizes ranging from cruddy collectible cups to iPads by blowing your entire paycheck on the more than 200 games, including everything from boardwalk classics to advanced virtual-reality simulators. When you finally realize you're the oldest one playing, pretend one of the kids is yours or cut your losses at the bar and restaurant.
Player 1 Video Game Bar
8562 Palm Parkway, 407-504-7521, player1orlando.com
LAN parties get the Disney treatment at this gaming lounge, where consoles range from PS4 to retro arcade. Gamers of any age are welcome with proper supervision before 6 p.m. Despite the lack of online gameplay, the competition gets fierce when opponents face off against each other across the room, beer in hand.
Disney Springs, 1494 E. Buena Vista Drive, 407-938-7467; splitsvillelanes.com
When it rains at Disney, grab a beer, a bite and a ball at Disney Springs' retro-themed bowling alley and entertainment complex. There's nothing quite like their lane-side food service or the drunken people-watching opportunities to be had from the second-floor and patio bars.
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