Orlando City Guides

Orlando Nightlife - Downtown Orlando

Orlando, Florida - Review Experience

One Night Downtown

I’ve probably spent more nights in downtown Orlando than I care to remember. From college life to single life to business life, I’ve learned that downtown can be both a cruel and rewarding mistress. You just have to know how to make a productive night out of it. This past Saturday night, I took everything the downtown nightlife had to offer and soaked it all in.

THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 8pm & 2am. ALL EVENTS OCCUR IN REAL TIME (said in my best Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer voice)

The first and perhaps most important part of an enjoyable downtown night is the parking situation. If you can get there early enough and don’t mind a long three block hike, I recommend parking on Rosalind Ave. After 6pm, it’s free to park and the location is pretty safe for your vehicle. If all the parking spots are taken on Rosalind, a great parking garage is located on Jefferson St. It’s connected to a large Regions Bank, so you can’t miss it. With all Rosalind spots gone, I chose this parking garage. It’s only $5 to park, they have helpful attendants and it’s never crowded. What if you park at the Plaza? Get ready to pay $15, good luck finding the staff and cars are so jammed up there that you think you are playing Bumper cars.

My inaugural bar stop was The Lodge. I had been in there before, once or twice, but this time I got to explore this rather large bar. It was empty. Granted it was still early, but the very talkative bartender explained to me why Saturday night is rough for the business. Most people go to drink there after going to the other clubs first. Lodge looked exactly like…well…a lodge. The interior suggests a Christmas hideaway, while the exterior looks like your average Orlando bar.

I walked down Orange to get my fix. Sushi is to me what every drug was to Amy Winehouse. One of my favorite sushi hangouts is Shakai Sushi Lounge (The Artist Formerly Known as Ichiban). Besides scarfing down a Spicy Tuna Roll, I was able to watch the NCAA tourney at the bar and talk to the accommodating staff. This place is a perfect first date destination and it also usually has the best looking women dining there. Delicious sushi, a cold beer, sports on TV and pretty women? That’s hard to beat guys!

I hadn’t been to Pipers (located in The Plaza) in about six months. There’s nothing too special about Pipers, but it’s a decent enough place to grab a beer. They have poker tournaments on some nights, but unfortunately not on this specific Saturday night. Keeping with the “it’s been awhile” theme… I walked down Church Street and… WOW its dead! Once you get closer to the Amway Center, the street begins having a pulse again.

Walking back on Orange, I decided to make my way down to Tanqueray’s. I literally mean down. Tanqueray’s is located underground and it has a “speakeasy” ambiance to it. It’s a great location with some terrific live music, which happened to be Jazz on this night. Some newbies might not enjoy being in a cramped, smoked-filled bar, but it certainly has a unique atmosphere.

Not too far down from Tanq’s is Backbooth. I’ve never seen a club downtown go from empty to jam packed in a matter of seconds. One moment the bartender is giving away free beer with green dye in it (St. Patty’s leftovers) and the next minute there isn’t any open space on the dance floor!

My final stop was at IBAR. The “I” stands for independent and yes it definitely fits the description. It’s not the best club in town, but it sure is the most interesting or umm… “independent”. Where else can you drink cheap PBR (is there any other kind?), while listening to an eclectic mix of music. Some nights it’s Oldies or Classic Rock or 80s or Trance or Dubstep (which sounds like mating music for Transformers). The age ranges are all over the map at IBAR. From college students to people who look over 50 years-old. So what is the environment of the club like? Remember that opening seen in the vampire club from Blade? Some might feel they are damned if they go to IBAR, but I think you are damned if you miss out on experiencing this eccentric club.

I guess that’s what a trip to downtown Orlando is all about, right? I can look back on that night, along with other nights, and feel like I made the most of it because I had so many options to choose from. Another plus from this night was having zero traffic on my way home. I told you I know the best places to park!

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