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Florida Nightlife

Aqua Nightclub
711 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 294 0555

Just look for drag queens with bouffant hair, à la Sarah Palin, taking a cigarette break, and you've arrived at Aqua Nightclub, a hotbed of frivolous fun where female impersonator acts play out nightly. It's a typical Key West scene, with the crowd ranging from 30 to 70 years old, give or take a decade, and every shade of the sexual preference rainbow represented. The open ductwork ceilings sparkle with the prisms thrown about by the disco ball, and curtained booth areas line the back wall ($25 gets you Champagne service and a private nook here). There are two bars that host dueling bartender karaoke, and after the shows the dance floor gets going with everything from '80s throwbacks to classic dance tunes. There's no cover charge during the day, but the nightly shows cost $15 per person—unless you happen to be from Columbus, Ohio (as are the owners), in which case you'll get free entry.—Terry Ward

Open daily 2:30 pm to 2 am, nightly shows at 9 pm.

Bella Rose
423 16th Street
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 673 8634

Bella Rose's Sunday-night bash is a more locals-driven alternative to Nikki Beach's tourist-heavy scene. The dark South Beach lounge is filled with transvestites, models teetering in vertiginous heels, and a "murderer" on the loose to make for a glam goth vibe. Party producer Lex Mincolla is on a mission to "kill" one club-goer every week, with all the gory (fake) action filmed in stop-motion animation in the club's bathroom and turned into a cult phenom on YouTube the following week. Thursday nights are themed Thuggery (think old-school hip-hop and 32-ounce beers), while Friday and Saturdays are more straightforward with dancing to '80s hits. And even though it's in the midst of South Beach's high-rolling club scene, this is definitely not the place to go for bottle service.

Open Thursdays through Sundays 11 pm to 5 am.

Blue Martini
Galleria Mall
2432 E. Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 653 2583

This burgeoning Florida chainlet of upscale lounges is stashed unprepossessingly on the ground level of the Galleria Mall. It's a shame about the location, because Blue Martini is a friendly, dressy setting for a drink or two; the martini list (half price daily from 4 to 7 p.m.) is heavy on sweet, exotic blends (try the Black Cherry Cosmo) and the snack menu offers finger food like jumbo-shrimp martinis or an assortment of sushi rolls. Among the dark wood and warm lighting, grab a table inside if you want to listen to the nightly live music show, usually light jazz or smoky vocals, or opt for one of the shaded patio spots if you'd rather chat.

Bourbon St. Pub
724 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 296 1992

Of all the gay bars on Duval Street, this is the most inclusive and is packed with as many locals as tourists. There's always a party going on here, with video screens, underwear-clad barkeeps, go-go dancers, and theme nights ranging from wigs to turbans to togas. Bourbon Street is part of a five-level complex that also includes a men-only guesthouse and the Garden Bar, a tiki torch–lit garden with a hot tub.

City Place
700 S. Rosemary Avenue
West Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 366 9753

Shopping mall City Place is full of the suburban staples (Banana Republic, Ann Taylor), which makes it all the more random a place for this brewpub. There are six microbrews on tap, including the dark-brown, chocolaty Black Duke and the crisp, refreshing Boca Blonde lager. The food is no great shakes, but the Gorgonzola-crusted chips are the best snack food in town. The patio gets pretty rowdy on weekend nights, so stick to the dark-wood bar if you are looking for something more low-key.

Buck 15
707 Lincoln Lane
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 534 5488

Buck 15 occupies the upper floor of popular Asian restaurant Miss Yip's on Lincoln Road, but setting is more akin to a friend's basement than a South Beach nightclub. Vintage velvet lounge chairs are scattered about, and aquarium-like rectangular windows lined with low banquette couches peer onto the street below. Graffiti covers the walls, and metal rafters webbing the ceiling are the perfect place to perch your beverage as the DJ spins long-forgotten AC/DC, Erasure, and Bon Jovi hits. The crowd consists of local musicians, Russian models in jeans and sneakers, and Scandinavians on shore leave from the big cruise ships. Besides lacking typical South Beach pretensions, Buck 15 never hits you with a cover charge.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 pm to 5 am.

Bull & Whistle Bar
224 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 296 4565

You wouldn't be caught dead at Duval Street's big-name watering holes (Sloppy Joe's, Margaritaville), but there's no shame in making your way to this long-standing come-as-you-are bar. The Bull & Whistle occupies a stately white building with delicate balconies that would look right at home on Bourbon Street. Likewise, drinking and live music are the main themes here. The ground level tends to be crowded with tourists and cruise ship escapees who get rowdy with sing-alongs (it's more mellow during the daytime). Upstairs, at the Whistle Bar, it's a more local scene, with two-for-one well drinks offered all day. People play darts and foosball under lazily spinning fans, to the strains of classic rock 'n' roll (think Crosby, Stills & Nash and Bruce Springsteen ballads). Angle for a stool on the second-floor balcony, which offers one of the best views over Duval Street. If it's your thing, head one level up to the rooftop Garden of Eden bar, a clothing-optional, open-air environment that is not for shy types.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 4 am and Sundays noon to 4 am.

Universal Orlando
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 363 8000

The CityWalk entertainment plaza is notably hipper than the tame offerings at Disney's Pleasure Island. An outpost of New Orleans mainstay Pat O'Brien's ladles its strong Hurricane rum cocktails; there's live reggae at Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom; and a deafening dance lounge called The Groove thunders into the wee hours. Some of the clubs only admit patrons aged 21 or over, which adds to the cool factor, but the zone maintains its all ages-vibe with carnival games for the kids and margarita booths for the adults, since alcoholic beverages can be consumed anywhere on the premises, including outdoors.

Cucina dell Arte
257 Royal Poinciana Way
Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 655 0770

Dinner service at this restaurant ends at 10 pm: That's when the tables are cleared and the place morphs from brassy but fun Italian eatery into one of the Island's scenier bars, which goes until a very un–Palm Beach 3 am. There's a huge patio out front on the street—ideal for rubbernecking—and usually a reliable, mainstream DJ. Expect a crowd that's much younger than at most nightlife spots here, and dressed in everything from flip-flops to a tux (it's a benefit after-party staple).

Democratic Republic of Beer
255 N.E. 14th Street
Miami , Florida
Tel: 305 372 4565

Just what downtown Miami's nightlife scene needed—that's the universal refrain about the Democratic Republic of Beer, which opened to the hops-happy public in October 2009. The owners (two friends who met on Miami's hospitality scene) shared a common love for exotic beers that couldn't be quenched—so they built their own temple to the cause and stocked it with more than 400 types of beer. The perpetually updated menu includes everything from Bulgarian, Haitian, and Polish brews to Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which costs about 20 times as much as the $2.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon. And in true egalitarian spirit, you can vote online for the house favorite, which is the only beer they keep on tap. The food offerings, such as bangers and mash, chicken tikka masala, and tilapia en papillote, are as worldly as the brews. The DRB's unlikely location, in a cinder-block building across the street from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, adds color to the clientele: At night, the crowd morphs from pretheater patrons to tattooed and pierced sound crews; journalists wander over from the nearby Miami Herald building, and artsy types come hither from the nearby Design District. In addition to the granite bar, banquette couches, and small tables that line the narrow interior, a couch and a few tables are usually pulled onto the sidewalk, adding a retro-chic yard sale vibe to the fun, casual atmosphere.—Terry Ward

Open daily 5 pm to 5 am.

Hotel Photo
Dexter's of Thornton Park
808 E. Washington Street
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 648 2777

Tourists in Orlando usually party at theme park–linked complexes like Downtown Disney or Universal's CityWalk, or along International Drive's tacky, neon-lit corridor. But savvy out-of-towners know that the real place to be is downtown. Dexter's in Thornton Park is one of those exposed-ductwork industrial spaces with concrete floors. Tables, booths, and high-tops surround a large rectangular bar, where most of the settle-in-and-stay-a-while hanging out takes place. The food here is solid, as well, and the brunch crowd descends on Saturday and Sunday for Bloody Mary specials and flavored mimosas, while on Tuesday nights the $1 burgers are the draw. Regardless of the day, classic rock pumps through the speakers, and while the decibel level of the music stays relatively sane, the ambient chatter creates quite a din when the place is packed. Overall, it's an Orlando scene far more organic than in theme park world.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 7 am to 10 pm, Thursdays 7 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 7 am to midnight, and Sundays 7 am to 10 pm.

Elbo Room
241 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 463 4615

First opened in 1938, the Elbo Room hit headlines in the early 1960s when it became ground zero for the wholesome hipsters who flocked to Fort Lauderdale in its beach party heyday. The Elbo Room's popularity came down to one thing: the fab movie Where the Boys Are, in which the watering hole co-starred with Paula Prentiss and a young but already tanned George Hamilton (the less said about 1984's Lorna Luft-starring remake, though, the better). These days, the Elbo Room—now run by Miami's Penrod company, which created the tiki-themed Nikki Beach—is a firm frat-party favorite; unpretentious, beer-chugging, and flip-flop-friendly. Would dapper George approve?

Enzian Theater
1300 S. Orlando Avenue
Maitland , Florida
Tel: 407 629 0054

No one goes to the Enzian just for a movie, although it's possible. This unique institution's patio bar, made of Brazilian walnut and shaded by Spanish moss, embodies the laid-back Florida lifestyle in a way no other movie theater attempts. In addition to the usual cocktails, you can order Cuban rum made before the embargo, 1901 Scotch, and 1916 bourbon, all from the private cellars of the founder, the granddaughter of an Austrian princess. Inside the theater, seating is exclusively at tables, and a discreet staff serves a full menu during the show (BLTs with house-made bacon, mushroom burgers, a house coffee blend). The lineups alternate between mainstream and independent screenings, indulging in little of the haughtiness of other art-house cinemas. Considering it also hosts six major film festivals a year, the Enzian could be the envy of cineasts in any city.

Visit Web site or call ahead for showtimes.

Gay Nightlife
Miami Beach , Florida

Although South Beach has a huge gay population and draws a lot of gay tourists from all over, much of the nightlife has actually migrated north to Fort Lauderdale. But there are still a few homo hot spots on the Beach. For daytime, join the refreshingly diverse crowd for drink specials at the Palace restaurant and bar, just opposite the gay beach at 12th Street (1200 Ocean Dr., South Beach; 305-531-7234; Come evening, watch the locals strut along Lincoln Road from an outdoor table at video bar Score. Weekends are livelier, when big-name DJs play inside; Saturday is lesbian night in the upstairs lounge (727 Lincoln Rd., South Beach; 305-535-1111; Halo Lounge, just off Lincoln, attracts a young, good-looking crowd of locals and visitors with its white decor, creative cocktails, and a lighting system that bathes the walls in pinks and blues (1625 Michigan Ave., South Beach; 305-534-8181; Sundays belong to Click at Aero Bar, where a rotating roster of DJs and promoters host the boys in two futuristically designed rooms (247 23rd St., South Beach; 305-674-1110; Then there's the old standby, Twist, a friendly, labyrinthine bar with two dance floors, seven bars, video screens, and even a garden out back; go-go boys and drag queens perform regularly throughout the week (1057 Washington Ave., South Beach; 305-538-9478; For the latest listings, check out

432 41st Street
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 604 9798

Eurotrashy, big-boobed lovelies adore the been-there-forever Forge restaurant and the permatanned locals who fill it. The club space next door is equally jet-set glam: Once the site of Jimmy'z, run by Parisian nightlife guru Regine, it has morphed into a slick lounge/club called Glass. The renovation was helmed by local designer Alison Spear, who doused the place in white and added overstuffed leather sofas and contemporary art as an upscale distraction. Best nights: Wednesdays, when one of the Beach's longest running promoters, Michael Capponi, lures in his posse of multilingual millionaire types, and Saturdays, a lively house-heavy night.

The Green Parrot Bar
601 Whitehead Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 294 6133

A few blocks removed from the Duval Street madness, the Green Parrot is arguably the most authentic watering hole on the island (the building dates from about 1890). Follow the absinthe-hued glow into the bar cooled by tropical breezes flowing through the screenless windows. And whatever you do, heed the "No Sniveling" mantra that hangs over the bar. It's a no-frills kind of place, with friendly bartenders; stiff drinks; and classic bar games like pinball, pool, and darts. The small stage hosts blues and rock bands on weekends; during the rest of the week, the jukebox pumps out classics from James Brown and B.B. King. The decor is a cozy hodgepodge—an open parachute over the bar, wooden parrots, a photo of Abe Lincoln, and random trophies stuffed onto shelving here and there. Your fellow bar mates are likely to be similarly diverse, from commercial lobstermen back from the catch to local dentists grabbing after-work drinks.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 4 am and Sundays 12 pm to 4 am.

Hard Rock Live
CityWalk at Universal Orlando
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 351 5483

Situated on a promenade between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, the world's largest Hard Rock Café adjoins this live-music venue. Its enormous 2,800-seat performance space, loosely modeled on the Colosseum in Rome, frequently hosts A-list television tapings, stand-up performances, and concerts, so call ahead for schedules and tickets.

Kalahari Bar
4446 N.E. 20 Avenue
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 351 9371

Kalahari claims to be the only authentic South African bar in America; certainly, expat owners Hal and Dee Hofmeyr have managed to import a chunk of their homeland to an enthusiastic, slightly older South Florida clientele. The bar's decked out with zebra skins and African artifacts; expect the TV screens to regularly show homeland rugby games. The best time to stop by is Saturday, for karaoke; it's a reliable place to hang out, meet a few locals, and quaff South African beers like Castle and Windhock.

The Leopard Lounge
The Chesterfield
363 Cocoanut Row
Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 659 5800

Yes, it's inside a hotel and attached to a so-so restaurant, but the Leopard Lounge bar is an in-season favorite of the fortysomething scene. This is a so-campy-it's-cool place thanks to the unrestrained bordello-cum-jungle theme: The leopard-print tablecloths match the leopard-print carpet, while the ceiling's swirling scarlet mural looks like the result of one LSD tab too many. The bar boasts a specialty-drinks list that is heavy on gooey martinis, though the leopard martini (vodka with a dash of Amaretto and black Sambuca) has a delicious, unexpected kick.

1235 Washington Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 531 5535

Sure, it opened in February 2004—a generation ago in nightlife years—but this movie theater-turned-nightclub is still packing in upscale clubbers each weekend. In part, it's due to the setting: a 40,000-square-foot superclub with six VIP areas, six bars, and a very large dance floor that allows it to cater to different tastes and crowds simultaneously. (You may have known its previous incarnations as Level, Glam Slam, Club Z, Paragon, and 1235.) The other reason the A-list crowd is still dancing here? Its music policy is as selective as the velvet rope, which lures producers like Pharrell Williams and Scott Storch to decompress here after a long day in local studios; they often bring with them the artists, such as Paris Hilton, for whom they've been knob-twiddling.

Open Wednesday through Saturday 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

235 23rd Street
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 531 4166

Miami Beach's 23rd Street is shaping up to be the buzzy new drag, thanks to the Gansevoort South and upcoming W hotels at the beachfront end. In the meantime, there's a new club from nightlife king Nicola Siervo, who's had an unbroken decade-long reign at the top of Miami Beach's scene (Bang, Bar None, Joia, Mynt). Mokaï—inexplicably named after a huge canyon in New Zealand—is a VIP-only bolthole with just 22 tables. It's decked out with huge alligator-, iguana-, and crocodile-leather sofas; sterling silver tables; and a space-age, ultramodern custom lighting system. Expect a hyperselective crowd and a tough door policy. But if you book a table for bottle service, the bouncers may just let you through the door.

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Mr. Sisters
5310 E. Colonial Drive
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 545 2467

To call this nightlife complex fronting a lake near downtown Orlando a gay bar is selling Mr. Sisters short. On any given night, you're likely to find a crowd as diverse as downtown Orlando itself—everyone from students to doctors to groups celebrating bachelorette parties (only the theme park crowd is missing here, keeping the scene largely local). Occupying a former auto dealership on a rather unappealing stretch of Colonial Drive, Mr. Sisters has open rafters, high ceilings, and shiny surfaces, making the place feel more like something you'd see in Las Vegas (there's even a stage with a pole for dancing suspended above the large bar). For all the lighting and sound system bells and whistles inside, however, it's the outdoor deck that's most appealing for hanging out. The patio has sweeping views of Lake Barton, with "Don't feed the wildlife" signs that refer to the resident gators, turtles, snakes, and wading birds. Thursdays nights feature Dinner with the Stars, with drag queens donning their finest getups to perform songs from Broadway musicals. Don't miss the lively Sunday brunch, when eggs Benedict, frittatas, and quiche are served alongside a spectacle of two drag queens crooning crazy gospel renditions to the tinkling of a baby grand piano.—Terry Ward

Open Wednesdays and Thursdays 4 pm to 2 am, Fridays and Saturdays 2 pm to 2:30 am, and Sundays 11 am to 2 am.

Pangaea & Gryphon
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel + Casino
5711 Seminole Way
Hollywood , Florida
Tel: 954 581 5454

Nightlife entrepreneur Michael Ault opened two spots simultaneously in South Florida last year—lured to the Hard Rock no doubt, by the chance of a 24-hour liquor license on Seminole land. Pangaea—a sibling to the New York City and Marbella spots—is a bar/lounge with a resident DJ (mostly hip-hop and heavy house); there's also an on-site musician who riffs along with the records using drums and maracas. The space adheres to an east African theme, with safari tent and African artifacts collected by Ault during his travels; the glossy twentysomethings here are on the hunt for two-legged rather than four-legged game. Gryphon is a louder, more frenzied nightclub with a sunken central dance floor and vaguely Cirque du Soleil atmosphere. Prime spot is the cordoned-off VIP area; open only for bottle service, it even has its own entrance (

Parliament House
410 N. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 425 7571

Not everyone knows it, but Orlando is the site of the world's largest gay entertainment complex, which comprises five bars, a theater, a 130-room motel, and a restaurant overlooking Rock Lake. Its nightspots include Footlight Theater Piano Bar, a Western-themed bar, and the throbbing dance club Le Club Disco and Dance Bar. Its poolside bar gets hopping on hot weekends.

915 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 296 0669

If you're not into the college-kids-and-salty-locals scene, this sleek lounge is the perfect escape. Located above the restaurant Nine One Five, Point5 has an impressive amount of wines by the glass. They have a high-tech nitrogen system that keeps the wines fresh, if that's your sort of thing. If not, the DJs will keep you entertained. Even better, angle for a seat on the Victorian veranda to watch the nightly action on Duval Street below.

Open daily 6 to 11 pm.

Purdy Lounge
1811 Purdy Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 531 4622

Escape the modelizers and $15 cocktails at this locals' lounge on the west side of the island. It's a groovy, laid-back, late-night (till 5 a.m. daily) spot with a pool table, board games, and plenty of comfortable chairs. The decor is an industrial riff on a comfy parlor, with metal wall sconces and overstuffed armchairs. There's free, live Reggae music on Monday nights and DJ-spun Indie rock on Tuesday.

Open 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Respectable Street
518 Clematis Street
West Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 832 9999

A surprising find in Palm Beach, this 20-year-old club is a quintessential raucous alt-music venue: dark, grungy, and dance-y. Its vibe is best summed up by the street-side windows filled with hand-scrawled bill stickers advertising the next big thing. Bands like Dead Kennedys, Death Cab for Cutie, and Gene Loves Jezebel have played here, and most nights you'll find local bands across a range of disciplines playing to a mixed crowd. When you've had enough of the noise and pogo-ing, head to the outdoor patio.

The Royal Room Cabaret
The Colony
155 Hammon Avenue
Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 659 8100

If you're in the mood for a cocktail and some cabaret, the Colony hotel's intimate performance-space regularly attracts familiar crooners (like Broadway diva Betty Buckley and onetime Supreme Mary Wilson) and old-school hoofers (like Fosse protégé Ben Vereen) for brief residencies in season. (Expect lesser names during summer months.) Tickets run about $65 plus $15 drink minimum for the show; a dinner package is $35 more.

Seafood Bar at the Breakers
One South County Road
Palm Beach , Florida
Tel: 561 655 6611

If you're not staying at the Breakers resort, make sure you at least check out its oceanfront restaurant with signature aquarium bars.

320 Lincoln Road
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 305 531 2800

Sister to megaclub Mansion, SET is located on a grimy, bus-choked block of Lincoln Road, but inside, it's fun and glitzy with refreshingly loud music—reviving a party-like-it's-1992 scene, when South Beach was first emerging. (The bank-breaking bottle service is the only difference.) The main floor, with its four enormous handmade Swarovski chandeliers, is usually pumping with house; upstairs at the front is another bar in a smaller room that plays to a hip-hop crowd. Of course, the best place to be is with owners Roman Jones, Francis Milon, and brother Eric Milon, a former GQ cover model, in the VIP room: The 20-person hideaway behind a two-way mirror above the bar is like a clubby lodge, with overstuffed leather chairs and hunting trophies.

Open Thursdays through Saturdays.

60 N. Orange Avenue
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 246 1599

Until recently, Sky60 was just another wannabe posh club, distinguished by flowing white fabrics and interior cabanas perfect for giving small groups an insular night. But since many of Orlando's gay bars have rapidly closed, their old clientele has been welcomed here, and now Sky60 has morphed into the town's most stylish mixed-crowd hangout. DJs spin a variety of music, while drinks remain decently priced. Conveniently, the club is located in the midst of the city's most popular nightspots; on one side is the dance palace Tabu, and on the other, an eclectic house for traveling bands, The Social.

Shore Club
1901 Collins Avenue
South Beach
Miami Beach , Florida
Tel: 786 276 6772

If you have the magic open-sesame black card, this playland at the Shore Club hotel is all yours; otherwise, prepare to dress up and posture at the velvet ropes. Once inside, you have your choice of settings: lounging by the pool on Moroccan cushions with a glass of one of 75 rums from the Rumbar; on a rattan chair in the Sandbar (the sand is brought in from the beach); or in the Redroom, the inner sanctum with its all-ruby interior and lighting, punctuated by candles.

Sloppy Joe's
201 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 294 5717

This is one of those storied bars steeped in Key West history. Originally opened the day Prohibition ended in 1933 with the name Blind Pig, Sloppy Joe's moved to its current location in 1937. Papa drank here, of course, and legend has it Hemingway lobbied for the name change with a comment to then-owner Josie Russell, saying "Joe, you run a sloppy place—you should call this place Sloppy Joe's." The bar honors his memory, so to speak, with an annual Hemingway look-alike contest at the end of July. On any given day, the crowd is heavy on cruise ship day-trippers, but things perk up by sundown, when the tables are cleared for an impromptu dance floor and the live band rocks until 2 am. It's the best place to let loose with a sinfully sweet and strong piña colada.

Hotel Photo
The Social
54 N. Orange Avenue
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 246 1419

The skinny jeans–and-Converse crowd—and plenty of old school rock 'n' roll types, too—queue around the block to buy tickets whenever a major show is announced at this top live music venue in downtown Orlando. Seeing one of the international or national indie acts that appear here (think My Morning Jacket, G. Love & Special Sauce, OMD) is very appealing, thanks to the atmospheric intimate space. The Social maxes out at 400 people. Just next door at sister venue the Beacham, larger acts perform in a circa-1920s theater (the booking agent is an Orlando music-scene veteran known for luring great acts to the city). There are live bands most nights at the Social, and Sundays attract the young hipster crowd for a dance vibe and DJs spinning dubstep.—Terry Ward

Schedule varies; see Web site.

431 E. Central Boulevard
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407-839-0080

The thump of music from underground turns passersby on to this retro subterranean lounge a few steps from Lake Eola in Thornton Park. The low cavernlike ceilings, curved red booths, and Art Deco chandeliers pair with brick walls and a faux fireplace for an oddly comforting mashup of après-ski, the Jetsons, and Las Vegas. Tuesday bring packs of friends for Dirty Bingo, when raunchy prizes and commentary accompany the otherwise tame board game. Deejays spin '80s, '90s, and hip-hop on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays don't sleep easy, either, with happy hour all day and night and fierce rounds of beer pong. But don't worry, the young, diverse crowd keeps it from turning into a frat party.—Terry Ward

Open Mondays through Saturdays 4 pm to 2 am, Sundays 2 pm to 2 am.

The Top
Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha
430 Duval Street
Key West , Florida
Tel: 305 296 2991

Mallory Square may be the go-to destination for soaking up one of Key West's postcard-perfect sunsets. But when you're looking for a place to kick back with a drink in an atmosphere that's far less touristy—with iconic views all its own—head to this rooftop hotel bar. Push "T" in the Crowne Plaza's elevators to reach the unlabeled seventh floor (incidentally, the highest point in Key West), where the tiny bar occupies a breezy and unembellished outdoor space. Walk to the edge to view the length of Duval Street and watch the setting sun turn the rooftops of Key West's bungalows and church steeples a silvery pink. The bar always opens at 4 pm and closes "whenever the sunset watchers have wandered onward," quips a bartender.—Terry Ward

Opens daily at 4 pm.

Open daily 4 to 10 pm.

The Vagabond
30 N.E. 14th Street
Miami , Florida
Tel: 305 379 0508

More Lower East Side than South Beach, this mainland venue with a worthy music lineup is a showplace for youthful, exuberant Design District cool. Artists, hipsters, and rockers in skinny jeans descend on the two lounge areas and large back patio to dance with reckless abandon to the beats laid down by resident DJs such as legend John Digweed (who's also one of the owners), Lee Burridge, Little Louie Vega, and Hercules and Love Affair. Classic hip-hop and $1 bottles of Colt 45 fuel the Thursday party. Indie acts such as the Postmarks and King Khan & the Shrines play live on Fridays. And Saturdays are hosted by Back Door Bamby—one of Miami's longest-running underground parties. A cover charge kicks in after 11 pm on Fridays ($5) and Saturdays ($10); tickets for the bigger live acts vary in price and can be purchased through

Wall Street Plaza
Wall Street between Orange and S. Court
Orlando , Florida
Tel: 407 839 3900

Ever since Church Street Station closed for an endless refit, Orlando's reigning street of sin has been Wall Street, a block of eight drinkeries geared to a festive, happy hour clientele, each with its own international personality. The Globe does live acoustic music and has an outdoor patio; Waitiki fashions itself as a Tiki bar; the Tuk Tuk room does Indonesian (with Wright & Wong's sushi bar at the back); and Monkey Bar, overlooking the street, has a tongue-in-cheek pan-African vibe. While the after-work crowd makes up the bulk of the plaza's patrons, the pour continues all weekend. Visit the block's website for downloadable iCal schedules of upcoming events.

White Room
1306 N. Miami Avenue
Miami , Florida
Tel: 305 995 5060

Beyond its bamboo-fenced entry, White Room opens into a motor lodge–esque courtyard with cabanas clad in white curtains and lounge furniture. Unfortunately, they open to a skyward view of caged AC units, telephone wires, and billboards. But the crowd of Latin American club scene devotees and fashion mavens don't seem to mind. Alterna-types sporting skinny jeans and designer sneakers gravitate to the back dance room, where electronic remixes and Euro pop bounce off convex mirrored walls and a stage beckons would-be pole dancers. A smaller cavelike lounge swathed in red light located off the courtyard lures a slightly older crowd with drum-and-bass beats that reverberate off the walls. Revelers circulate between the two dance rooms, catching their breath in the cabanas or ordering a cocktail at the alfresco bar before drifting reverie-like between the worlds of lounge and dance party. Saturday's PopLife parties (largely considered the party that shaped Miami's underground scene) have garnered a cult following. The Design District club also hosts several prime parties during Art Basel.

Open nightly from 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.