Nightlife for a Florida Vacation
By Caroline Brame
Florida has long been known for a party destination mostly due to the fact that Spring Breakers have come to the Keys, Panama City, Fort Lauderdale, and Daytona for years. However, Florida has a great nightlife any place any time of the year, no matter what the reason. Learn about hot spots and locals secrets to get the most out of your Florida vacation.
Kick off the night in Jacksonville, home to the University of North Florida and a great twenty to thirty-something crowd. The party scene is found over the Intracoastal Waterway at the Jacksonville Beaches. Start the night right at Ragtime Taproom and Brewery, a locals favorite known for great microbrews and live music. Voted "Best Brew Pub year after year, the large bar starts filling up with the after-work crowd and does not empty until closing time. Head to the boardwalk to find The Atlantic, known for tasty appetizers and a great happy hour. Nightly music will range from jazz to hard rock and techno and begins around 9:30. If the typical "beach bar is what you are in the mood for, look no further than Bukkets. Play pool, grab a drink, or watch people on the boardwalk in this high-energy drinking hole. Freebird Live was built in commemoration of Jacksonville native Ronnie VanZant of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is where to go if you are looking to hear great live music. Past performers include Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, and Blues Traveler. Jacksonville has it all: a great nightlife, gorgeous beaches, and locals that love to have a good time.
Panama City Beach
Heading west will take you to Panama City Beach, home to one of the largest Spring Break gatherings in the state. Front Beach Road is home to two PCB staples, Harpoon Harry's and Sharky's Beach Club. Harpoon Harry's has tasty late night snacks, great drinks, and local live music. This is the ideal place for anyone wanting to avoid the crowds at larger clubs. Sharky's is a Panama City Beach institution, having been home to the Tiki Hut for almost 20 years. Hear live bands, drink mixed drinks, and enjoy fresh seafood where the energy is always high. The Boatyard attracts tourists and locals alike with a laid back atmosphere, delicious late-night treats, and live music. The dance floor is always full and the party goes on all night. Club La Vela is the nation's largest nightclub with ten theme rooms, each with its own style of music and atmosphere. Get to the club early and stay late at one of the trendiest nightclubs in the world. Panama City Beach continues its reputation for having one of the best late night scenes in Florida.
Central Florida brings Orlando as its top nightlife scene. With quite a few colleges and universities in the area, theme parks with adult hours, and locals who like to have fun, there are plenty of options when it comes to local nightlife. Pleasure Island, part of Walt Disney World, turns into fun for the adults after dark. Purchasing a pass gets you into the clubs and attractions like BET SoundStage Club, 8TRAX, Mannequins Dance Club, Motions, and the Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club. Universal Studios answers back with its own adult nightlife scene found at CityWalk. Although there is no entrance fee, it is suggested to purchase the Party Pass that gets you free cover and priority entrance to BB Kings Blues Club, Howl at the Moon, Jillian's Hi-Life Lanes, Rumba Room and the Saddle Ranch Chop House, as well as, plenty of other freebies. The nightlife in Orlando does not end at the theme parks. Head to downtown Orlando to experience what the locals do after dark. Tabu Night Club is a more sophisticated alternative to Orlando nightlife with a dress code. The Art Deco design, friendly staff, fabulous drinks and appetizers, and celeb DJ's make this the place to go when looking for a more matrue atmosphere. Roxy is the heart of the Orlando nightlife scene and is the place to go if you want to see and be seen. This huge bi-level club has multiple rooms to cater to whatever mood and price level you are interested in. Orlando, known for children's theme parks and dreamlands, becomes an adult's playground at sunset.
Heading south brings you to Fort Lauderdale, home of the original Spring Break party scene. Start your vacation at the Elbo Room, an iconic beachside bar surviving from the "Where The Boys Are era. Live music and ambiance make this a must-visit. The Art Bar is an up and coming Fort Lauderdale hot spot with great drinks and music. The Martini Bar, located downtown, is the new rage with fun takes on the classic martini. Crowds love the fun staff and atmosphere. The best dueling piano bar around, Howl at the Moon, is full of great eats, entertainment, and is one of the most fun nights out around. If hip-hop is your forte, visit G.O.A.T. Open seven days a week, this lounge and bar is the only place to go every night of the week. There are plenty of other beach bars, dance clubs, and cool lounges around town. Visit them all to find your favorite late-night spot in Fort Lauderdale.
Last, although certainly no least, we come to Miami, home to South Beach and one of the hottest nightlife scenes in the world. The rich and famous, as well as, your everyday Miami vacationer can be found in the clubs, bars, and lounges in this wildly fun city. Miami's top DJ's perform at Club Space, located downtown. A huge dance floor, open-air patio, and a dazzling light show are sure to keep you entertained from sundown to sun-up. Heading to South Beach will bring you to some of the most well known clubs in the country. The Marlin Bar is a place to expect to see celebrities and enjoy at laid-back atmosphere at the same time. There are plenty of couches and chairs, ample of space, and live jazz and world beat music to enjoy. Jazid is a popular bar, known for a great atmosphere, live jazz, and a sultry feel. If looking for something other than live music, head up to the loft for music spun by popular DJ's. For those looking to impress, get dressed to kill and head to Tantra, home to one of the more exotic atmospheres in South Beach. This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and bar has a real grass floor, waterfalls, hookah pipes, and plush couches. Great martinis and one of the best menus on the Beach are accompanied by a cigar bar and fabulous company.
It's easy to enjoy a Florida vacation with such great activities, fabulous vacation rentals, and beautiful beaches that stretch for miles. Florida is known for being home to the hottest trends in music, couture, and nightlife. Whether looking for the newest club, a laid-back tiki bar on the beach, or the hottest nightclub, this state has all of it and more.
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