Due to the popularity of the area's theme parks among the LGBT community, Orlando is a great destination for any persuasion year-round, but it's especially busy from late fall through early spring when northeastern tourists come to Florida to escape the winter chill. No matter when you come, you're sure to find plenty of opportunities for bar-hopping to iconic nightspots.
As many people remember, Orlando is the site of the 2016 shooting that resulted in the deaths of 49 people at Pulse Night Club. Since then, the club closed its doors but the community around the club has rallied together to form the Pulse Foundations, which organizes fundraisers, special events, and remembrance ceremonies throughout the year.
You don't have to be in the mood for dancing to enjoy a gay night out in Orlando from the local dives near Lake Fairview, to the swanky lounges downtown.
- BarCodes: This is one of the top bear (and, to an extent, leather-and-Levi's) gay bars in Orlando. This fun and cruisey spot draws mostly guys 35 and up.
- Hank's Bar: One of the oldest gay hangouts in the state, Hank's is favored by a male bunch, mostly over 40. There's a great jukebox, plus darts, pool, and a patio. Hank's doesn't have a full liquor license, so beer and wine are your alcoholic options, but the drinks are super-cheap.
- Bösendorfer Lounge: Nestled inside the swish, art-filled Grand Bohemian Hotel in Downtown Orlando, darkly warm and inviting Bösendorfer Lounge is a favorite of cabaret fans. Live music is presented in the evenings on the magnificent Imperial Grand Bösendorfer piano, and the music ranges from jazz to soul, depending on the night.
In Orlando, the gay clubs are just as fun to explore as the city's world-famous theme parks. Many of them are large complexes with multiple bars and clubs that will appeal to all kinds in all kinds of moods.
- Parliament House: The legendary Parliament House gay resort has been a wickedly fun venue for cruising and boozing since 1975. Known for being one of the largest LGBT resorts in the world, there are seven different bars and lounges in this 10-acre motel complex, offering everything from top DJs and dancing to karaoke, trivia nights, happy hour specials, drag bingo, and various other events.
- Southern Nights Orlando: Formerly Revolution Night Club and a mainstay in Orlando's gay clubbing community for more than three decades, this 14,000 square foot complex is open nightly and comprises of a fun video bar called Hydrate, the Majestic Theatre and Lounge showroom, and a main dance club.
If you're on the hunt for late-night munchies in Orlando, you're in luck. The city has many dining options that keep late hours from sit-down restaurants to fast food.
- Boheme Restaurant: In the same hotel as the Bösendorf Lounge, this restaurant turns out artful modern American dishes and has a fun jazz brunch on Sundays.
- Rainbow Cafe: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the Rainbow Cafe, which features traditional American chow. Patrons can also shop for Pride gifts, toys, clubwear, and other items in the shops.
- Austin's Coffee: Open 24 hours, this coffee shop does more than just sell late-night Joe. It's also a great spot to check out poetry readings, art shows, and independent film screenings.
- Gringos Locos: For Mexican food, this local favorite is open every night until 3 a.m.
While there's always something to do in the thriving LGBT club scene of Orlando any time of year, the city's LGBT community takes over almost every venue in the city during Gay Days in June, also known as One Magical Weekend, and the Come Out With Pride Celebration. The latter celebration coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11, which is well-timed if you're looking for a reason to visit Orlando in the off-season.
- There's no single gay neighborhood in the city and venues are located all over the from downtown to the theme park neighborhoods, so keep this in mind when you're planning your night.
- Downtown Orlando and the neighboring and historic Thornton Park are both relatively pedestrian-friendly areas. From the several hotels nearby, you can walk between Southern Nights nightclub and several other mainstream but mixed gay/straight restaurants and lounges.
- Bar Codes and Hank's Bar are located on Edgewater Drive about 15 minutes north of downtown, so you can easily transition between them if you're not finding the right vibe.
- Parliament House also contains a 112-room hotel, so serious revelers (and those seeking affordable accommodations) might consider staying right on the property.