With roughly 49,458,000 visitors in 2017, you might say Universal Orlando’s five theme parks have come into their own as a full-fledged resort. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an irresistible attraction and with seven onsite hotels hitting all price points it’s easy to see why Universal is giving Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom quite a run for their money.
One particular section of Universal Studios Resort, CityWalk, has been dubbed as The Epicenter of Awesome. The best of the best restaurants serving exquisite meals prepared by world-renowned chefs can be found here. Whether it’s a freshly prepared never frozen gourmet burger with hand-cut fries or a plate of garlic roasted sea-snails, there’s something for every member of the family. And who can resist The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, all done up in steampunk fashion?
There’s something else CityWalk is all about which is the favored pastime of many visitors, and that’s drinking a few cold refreshing adult beverages. CityWalk doesn’t just have bars. Like everything else Universal does, these are serious drinking establishments. There are quite a few to choose from so to help you out before you get there, here are some of the best.
Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
Bob Marley’s reggae style music coupled with his often radical lyrics set the world ablaze. A Tribute to Freedom is a one-of-a-kind bar dedicated to this Jamaican heroes legacy. Jerk chicken, callaloo, gizzadas, oxtail stew, and other popular Jamaican dishes are served, but the real fun begins when the nightly entertainment kicks off. Drinkers and dancers enjoy jammin’ till the wee hours of dawn.
Universal worked with Rita Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation to recreate a perfect replica of the singers Jamaican home. Artifacts and photos were donated and are scattered about on walls and in the open-air veranda and courtyard.
Live reggae music is featured nightly by the very best bands found anywhere, and a DJ spinning reggae classics in the courtyard area further adds to the incredible ambiance. As a tip; Ladies night is every Sunday between 10 pm-2 am. There is no cover until midnight and plenty of drink specials. Normally there is a $7 cover, and of course, after 10 pm patrons must be 21 with a valid ID.
If partying the night away to the sounds of non-stop boogie inducing rhythmic beats sounds like the ticket, do not pass go, head straight to The Groove. This premier club is multi-level with different guest DJ’s spinning top-40 tunes on each floor.
Locals mix with out-of-town guests so The Groove is perfect for mingling with Orlando’s finest party animals. One entire wall filled with pulsating video effects beating in time with the music makes it easy to feel the groove while becoming totally immersed on the dance floor. Whether dancing comes naturally or not is no big deal. Just enjoy.
For anyone wanting to do it up right, VIP seating and table service can be had for a price. The club has a large balcony which overlooks all of Universal Citywalk. It’s the perfect spot to take a breather.
No. Pat Obrien’s is not an Irish pub as the name may imply. It’s a taste of the Big Easy, otherwise known as New Orleans. It’s also home to the Hurricane, a drink made famous on Bourbon Street that’ll knock you on your keester quicker than 1-2-3.
Cajun cuisine is perhaps better than you’ll find in New Orleans so don’t worry if you get hungry. Even if you aren’t hungry you should try the food anyway.
This bar features dueling pianos and sing-alongs and it’s great fun minus any sweaty bodies gyrating on a dance floor.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
This isn’t the only Margaritaville in existence, but even if you’ve been to one of the other ones, you still need to go to this one. It’s the best. Hands down. Musicians fill the air with tropical sounds and the expected Jimmy Buffett covers as margarita’s flow like a waterfall. All 10 variations of margaritas.
When hunger strikes, try the classic Cheeseburger in Paradise, or a Drunken Shrimp Skillet. This place has been so “Bufettized” that even his own seaplane, The Hemisphere Dancer, is on hand where you can chat and drink under the wings.
If relaxing among friends in a tropical atmosphere is what you’re looking for, this is your place.
Rising Star Karaoke
Whether you’re a natural songbird or you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, who can resist a stage and a microphone? Here’s you’re chance to perform on one of the biggest and best stages found anywhere. Here’s you’re chance to be a star.
This isn’t your typical small town dive by any means, and you won’t be singing along with pre-recorded tracks as is the norm. You’ll have your very own band complete with oohs and aahs from real background singers. They’ll make you sound as good as is humanly possible no matter how hard they have to work at it.
Red Coconut Club
Red Coconut Club is referred to as vintage Vegas with a tropical twist. It’s two levels of tiki-chic with a touch of Cubana tossed in for flavor. You might want to dress nicely if you go to this one as glamour is the rule of thumb, yet it’s still considered casual.
Amazing bands perform on the first level for an all-out dance experience in a plush swanky type atmosphere. Upstairs, though still full of swank, is a different experience. The music isn’t live and it’s played at lower decibels for the ultimate in intimacy and private conversations.
The wine list is very extensive and if you’re a martini fan, try one, or several, of their signature mixtures. To posh things up a bit for you and your special someone, or multiple guests, try the VIP service and your glass will never run dry.
There you have it. As you just read, all of these bars feature different things so finding the one that’s right for you is pretty easy. There are more bars than what’s been listed here, including an honorable mention to Hard Rock Live Orlando. All of them are extraordinary drinking, eating, and dancing establishments. The toughest part will be deciding which one to spend the evening in.