Orlando nightlife away from the theme parks is centered mostly around Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Here you can walk and find many bars. A short walk away is the tiny Thornton Park District, located near the intersection of Washington and Summerlin. Among the dozens of cafes and pubs, you might stop in for a drink and a quick bite at Dexter's on Washington. For local flair head across the street to Burton's Frosty Mug, or sample the hip urban environment at the trendy HUE at the corner of Washington and Central.
Although most of the downtown Central avenue crowd is comprised of the "twentysomething" generation, for a more 30's and over entertainment experience, one can enjoy live jazz on many nights in the lounge of the Grand Bohemian Hotel located downtown on Orange Avenue. The jazz is excellent and the ambiance is quite comfortable, although drinks tend to be pretty pricey here.
Milk District is a colorful zone about two miles east of Downtown. This area is very bohemian with tons of nightlife, and a teahouse that is 24 hours thursday-sunday.
Winter Park has a more sophisticated nightlife scene centered around Park Avenue, with some students mixed in from prestigious Rollins College down the street. There's also a "food truck stop" that's open 24/7, and Austin's Coffee which is a 24/7 coffeehouse located a bit west of the central area.
Also, for a more professional crowd with a Latin twist, there is the Samba Room, located on Sand Lake Road, about 3/4 west of I-4. This is a lively restaurant and happy hour type of place. The look is chic and the locals and tourists alike gather here for a quality food, beverage and people watching experience. You should ditch the shorts and flip-flops for a more casual chic look, but if you do you will be rewarded with a nice experience here. If you are traveling west on Sand Lake Road, after passing I-4, The Samba Room is on the left in a large shopping plaza. Latin food, music and mojitos are just some of the specialties here.
Across the street from the Samba Room, on Sand Lake Road, is the Old Vines wine bar, featuring live jazz usually from Thurs. through Saturday nights. The wine selection is extensive and the live jazz is some of the best in town. The jazz is performed in the front of the room by the entrance. There is a divider that separates the more intimate rear portion of the establishment, which is the main dining area.
There are quite a few places to enjoy quality dining and drinks along Park Avenue in Winter Park, an adjacent suburb which is just northeast of Orlando. Winter Park is known for its many older grande homes that dominate the more historic sections of this suburb affectionately referred to by many as the center of Orlando's "old money." Park Avenue is an active pedestrian street featuring trendy shoppes, galleries, restaurants and nightspots. It has recently grown from becoming a one street attraction to more of a district, as several nearby streets have now added similar attractions.
Of particular interest and uniqueness on Park Avenue is the Wine Room, a converted bank featuring literally hundreds of wines available for self serve sampling. The mode of purchasing here is to pre-load a wine "credit card" supplied by the Wine Room. You are then at liberty to peruse the entire building and select any wine you wish to try, merely by inserting your "credit card." Each wine station automatically deducts the value of your current purchase and advises you of your card balance. Dress is very casual here and you are likely to meet both locals and visitors, all sampling and enjoying their vinos of choice throughout the night.
At the theme parks, CityWalk at Universal Studios. For a nominal admission fee, both sites offer numerous venues for libations and entertainment. If you're staying along International Drive, there are plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs.
*Corona Cigar Company's Superstore & Cigar Bar, 7792 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819, +1 407 248-1212. If you're interested in cigars and all the different kinds of cigars, then this place is for you. The Corona Cigar Company allows its customers to sample different cigars. They also serve drinks.
*Howl At The Moon, 8815 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819, +1 407 354-5999. Entertainers perform songs at request all night. A place where people can go to listen to music, dance, drink, and have fun.
*Orena Sports Bar, 6159 Westwood Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32821,+1 407 370-0303. Orena Sports Bar caters to both locals and tourists. The bar serves food and drinks. Visitors can go to eat, play games, watch sports games and more.
*Velvet Bar at Hard Rock Hotel, 5800 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819, +1 407 503-3463. Sit down, relax and listen to music. Velvet Bar also has live bands.
*Blue Martini, 4200 Conroy Road, Suite H246, Orlando, FL 32839, +1 407 447-2583. Blue Martini is a very high end martini bar. People can enjoy live entertainment at the bar.
*Dave & Buster's Inc., 8986 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819, +1 407 541-3306. Dave & Buster's is family friendly. Kids and adults can enjoy a great meal and play a variety of games. There is also a bar for the adults where they can sit, order drinks, and watch a sports game.
Like most cities in America, there are certain areas of Orlando which are more dangerous than others. Some areas travelers should be cautious of are:
*Parramore District, area in downtown Orlando is a location where a lot of the area's homeless population congregates and crime rates are higher in this area.
*Orange Blossom Trail, south of Sand Lake Road is known to be a a bit of an unofficial red light district. Drug and prostitution related crime is common here. Prostitution is not legal in Orlando, so you could spend a night in jail if you decide to indulge.
*Pine Hills, located around Silver Star Road and Pine Hills Road west of John Young Parkway. This is a lower income area that has struggled with high crime rates. The Greyhound bus station is in Pine Hills and is a place to use caution.
While it is unlikely that any one individual would experience serious crime in these areas, tourists stand out in these areas, and can unwittingly do things that can make them targets for criminal behavior, so it is sensible to stay away.
While crime in the Orlando area is not particularly high, with the annual tourists far outnumbering the regional population (~2million), a substantial amount of local crime ends up being directed at tourists. The most common crimes are theft of items from cars and hotels, so following common sense travel precautions are particularly important in an area like Orlando.
* Never leave valuable items in your car unattended, get any purchased items to your hotel room as soon as possible.
* Never leave small children unattended for any length of time, especially at a pool. Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards.
* Hotel room invasions do occur, especially open-air hotel and motel rooms when the victim leaves their hotel room unlocked and not dead-bolted. When you are in a hotel room, always lock your doors behind you, even if you expect someone in a minute or two.
While hurricanes attract most of the attention, the proximity to two coasts also brings frequent, and sometimes dangerous, thunderstorms. These occur nearly every day during the rainy season from mid-June through September. While some days it may only rain for 10 minutes, other thunderstorms can last for hours and its not unheard of for one location to remain dry while another spot 10 miles away gets a couple inches of rain on an afternoon. The summer thunderstorms are the main reason that Florida is the lightning capital of the western hemisphere. During these storms it is best to remain indoors due to the danger posed by frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Golfers are especially vulnerable. A couple of dozen people are killed each year by lightning in Florida and many more spend much time receiving treatment for lightning strikes.
Pets are better off left with a friend or in a kennel. If you choose to bring your pet, note that most theme parks and hotels prohibit pets but may provide kennels for a fee. Also note above about interior temperatures in parked cars.
For truly the safest experience, consider staying on Disney-owned property. If this is not possible, the area of Lake Buena Vista would be a preferred location. In addition to its accessibility to attractions, it offers a much safer, less urbanized area for comfort.
[wiki=1f1e96ce0bcc86858b99954169d89056]Walt Disney World[/wiki], about 35 minutes southwest of Orlando proper, is so expansive that it needs its own travel guide.
Also within an hour of downtown Orlando:
* [wiki=8d87821025e7428fdac2e8b47656212a]Altamonte Springs[/wiki]
* [wiki=3c896ab1d9c4f9cb99d3faf83fba8554]Celebration[/wiki] - the Disney-designed and -operated community
* [wiki=72936a3fd76d95fe1b0208eae561ce08]Kissimmee[/wiki] Large suburb close to Disney World.
* [wiki=559358613862bd87d98bbf7059db6481]Winter Haven[/wiki]- About 30 miles south of Disney off US27. Home to Legoland Florida. [http://florida.legoland.com/]
A bit further, but good day trips or next destinations include:
* [wiki=7cedcf822d6f3c0396fb573a2f73bb16]Cocoa Beach[/wiki]- Closest beach to Orlando it boasts world-famous surfing.
* [wiki=837401163f7951e64d78c60d1d1ea477]Cape Canaveral[/wiki]- Home to the Kennedy Space Center and its large visitor's complex, which showcases many space-related artifacts (including some large rockets). While the space shuttle that once attracted tens of thousands of onlookers for lift-off no longer flies, there are occasional rocket launches throughout the year (schedule [https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/events.aspx]).
* [wiki=b9ba402708377da865974926d834d2a4]Daytona Beach[/wiki]- Home of NASCAR's famous Daytona 500 race, The Rolex 24, HSR Classic 24 Hours at Daytona, Turkey Rod Run Classic Car Show, "Bike Week", and a popular beach.
* [wiki=e21a5288b9064e9f2f9ea5c4aab604a5]Canaveral National Seashore[/wiki] 24 miles of undeveloped shore; central Florida's only nude(in one spot) beach; 1000+ year old Indian relics; 58,000 acres for hiking, horseback riding, and biking; but no camping or concessions.
* [wiki=6641c8a41b398241a025ff433954d5a3]Melbourne (Florida)[/wiki]/[wiki=8c575d8adf67c95fecdd5f79abb84ff9]Melbourne Beach[/wiki]- Historic downtown and a great but "less touristy" beach than most on the Space Coast, beachfront camping nearby.
* [wiki=8011a360c8162263c9282cc58cbacbc7]Ocala National Forest[/wiki]- Great hiking and camping. Home to many fauna, including black bears and the Florida panther.
* [wiki=fac20932b700e0c57b41ad6899cf3fc8]New Smyrna Beach[/wiki]- Popular beach destination.
* [wiki=432f3016bb48bbb116569fb36b243a57]Venus (Florida)[/wiki] Home of the Venus Project, a plan for a utopian-like society. Enjoy guided tours by renowned architect, social planner and polymath Jacques Fresco and artist Roxanne Meadows as they show you around a planned experimental mockup of an inhabited area within a natural preserve. Tickets are two hundred dollars per household for the guided tours. [https://www.thevenusproject.com/en/tours]
[wiki=337a1fbda046f1596ec9b80ceee7094a]Dmoz:North America/United States/Florida/Localities/O/Orlando/[/wiki]