Orlando is well-known for its adrenaline-pumped theme parks, lesser so for the city itself, which is around 15 miles south of them. It’s home to some of Florida’s coolest and quirkiest experiences, but most people don’t catch sight of it in the rush to Disney World. So where’s the best place to start? Take in the city skyline and the best of downtown Orlando on one of its many rooftop bars, ideally armed with a craft cocktail. From tiki bars to EDM nightclubs, here are some of the best rooftop bars in Orlando.
The Best Rooftop Bars in Orlando
One of the city’s most popular options for alfresco drinking resides on the third floor of Church Street Bars. It’s also the largest rooftop bar in Orlando, so you’re almost always guaranteed to find a good spot. There’s a large tiki-style bar on the spacious decked terrace, with palm trees and wooden stools. It’s a true tropical escape in the heart of historic downtown Orlando. And, if you get there early enough you can enjoy 3-for-1 on drinks.
There are two bars to choose from downstairs too, so you can feasibly curate your own bar crawl without even leaving the building.
The expansive skyline and sunset views are worth the inevitable queue to get through the front door at Bar 17 Bistro. Set 17 storeys up, above Universal’s Antura Hotel, you can see Universal’s three theme parks in high definition too. While the views are a big draw, guests also come to nosh on the Signature Bao Buns, specifically *those* braised pork belly delights. There’s a lengthy wine, beer and custom cocktail list to make your way through too.
Sky Lounge, formerly known as One80, boasts some of the most exquisite views of downtown Orlando, with 180 degrees of the sweeping city skyline. It sits atop the Amway Center, which is home to Orlando’s beloved basketball team, Orlando Magic. The dress code is smart casual, but you’ll want to out your glad rags to fit in with its well-heeled clientele. More nightclub than lounge, Sky Lounge offers a busy schedule of events and theme nights, as well as DJ sets into the early hours.
Located downtown, Hanson’s Shoe Repair is an old-school speakeasy bar. You’ll find it in one of the city’s oldest houses, in a rambling 19th-century house built in 1883. It’s a well-kept secret, and you’ll need a password – which changes daily – to get past the bouncer. Thankfully, it isn’t too difficult to get hold of it, just head to their Twitter account or call the bar directly. The cosy fairy-lit rooftop patio won’t win any awards for height, but it could (and should) for its inspired cocktail list. The atmosphere is second to none, with live bands at the weekend.
Ok, so Celine may not offer the most dizzying views of Orlando, but what it lacks in views it more than makes up for in atmosphere. Located in the Entertainment District, it comprises a few different areas. There’s a ballroom with an elevated stage and top of the line sound system, a prohibition-era speakeasy, a mezzanine and – the crowning jewel – the rooftop bar. Expertly crafted cocktails, live music and plenty of space combine to make it one of the best rooftop bars in Orlando. The weekly schedule of guest DJs and events means the rhythm is constantly changing too.
Up on the top floor of The Patio and 64 North, it’s all about the DJ beats. Possibly the most famous nightclub in the city, Aero is the place to come if you’re looking to bust some moves against a good backdrop. The bar is only open from Thursday to Sunday at night, so it’s not the sort of place to stop for an afternoon drink. Expect strong drinks, EDM DJs and laser light shows alongside those beautiful vistas.
7. M Lounge
Another North Orange Avenue offering, M offers highly Instagramable views of Lake Eola and downtown Orlando. Acoustic music and big comfy sofas make for a comparatively laid back atmosphere. Pick up a crafted cocktail and soak up all that atmosphere with a late-night menu of light bites and small plates. Or, if you’re after some daytime fun, head there at the weekend for ‘Liquid Brunch’.
Set on the 17th floor of the Magic Kingdom’s flagship Four Seasons, Capa offers 7,500 square feet (696 square metres) of rooftop, plus an extra 1,200 (112 square metres) of terrace space – so finding a seat won’t be a problem. The real challenge comes when you see the menu, which is bursting with tantalizing dishes inspired by the Basque region. Menu highlights include ‘Oysters, Crab and Shrimp Ceviche’, ‘Beer Brined Pork Belly’ and a 32-ounce cut of prime beef from local Creekstone Farms. There’s an extensive drinks list featuring 50-plus wines from Spain and 12 signature cocktails including two sharable ‘porrons’ served in large wine-style decanters with a long spout.
As you mind expect from the Four Seasons, Capa is a classy joint with jet black walls, plush seating and trendy art installations. The terrace is a prime spot for enjoying the nightly firework displays from Epcot and Disney World too.
9. AC Sky Bar
The newest addition to Orlando’s rooftop scene is fast becoming one of its most popular. Perched on top of the AC Hotel Orlando in Downtown, the Sky Bar is only on the first floor of the hotel so it’s not technically on the roof, but that’s a whole 18 storeys above the streets below. The hotel occupies seven storeys of the new highrise on Farland Avenue, across the way from the Amway Center. Outdoors, guests can enjoy sweeping views of the city, including the Amway Arena and Camping World Stadium, and if it’s a particularly lovely day you’ll see the ICON Orlando Eye too.
Tables are first-come, first-served with no reservations, so get here reasonably early. Or, you could come for an elevated Sunday Brunch. It features a European-inspired tapas-style menu, with brunch beverages including their beloved mimosas.
Another resort offering, this time at the Reunion. The restaurant bar is set on the eleventh floor of the building and it’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets. By day, it’s a rooftop deck but as the sun goes down it transforms into an elegant terrace bar. The pool is closed off (understandably, it could get messy otherwise) but beyond the glass sliding wall, there’s comfy bistro-style seating with views of the manicured resort and the Disney fireworks.
You’ll need to order food too, and you’d be a fool to plump for a steak – they’re known as one of Central Florida’s best. Book ahead as it can get pretty busy.
This rooftop bar delivers exactly what its name promises – the whole enchilada.The chain of restaurants was started up by two guys on a couple of bicycles and it now boasts locations across Florida. This branch is located in The Winter Garden, nestled into Orlando’s historic district, hovering two storeys above Plant Street. It may not boast sky-high views since it is only two floors up but it does offer charming views of the historic tangle of streets and the theatre too. Plus, it’s great for group seating. Inside it’s all inspirational neon quotes like “Tacos and Dreams”, with hanging plants, rustic furniture and cult classics pumping out the TV.
The food is good but the drinks are the main draw, with inspired cocktails like ‘Te Amo Tequila’, made with maestro diamante tequila, passion fruit liqueur, lime, ginger beer, sugar rum. Order a side of guacamole and chips for the traditional Tex-Mex experience.
If it’s themed bars you’re after, look no further than Paddlefish. Disney Spring’s pride and joy is shaped like a paddleboat, complete with decks and watery surroundings. The third-floor open-air deck offers enchanting views of Disney Springs and Lake Buena Vista. Once you’ve knocked back a glass of fine wine, you’ll believe you’re winding your way down a river. It’s a great spot for small plates and creative cocktails like ‘Lili’s Steam Boat Breeze’, made with Broadbent rose, cathead honeysuckle, elderflower, fresh lemon.
Since the pandemic hit, the bar has been open for diners only. That said, eating here is certainly no chore, with its Florida fresh seafood-based menu. Don’t miss the king and snow crab, it’s the only restaurant in Disney Springs to serve it.
Another new addition to Orlando’s rooftop bar scene is Illume, a Japanese-inspired rooftop restaurant at the Marriott resort. Perched on the ninth floor, the lounge offers gorgeous views over the resort at sunset and an excellent vantage point for Disney’s nightly fireworks. The menu is worth raving about too, particularly their prawn tempura. Signature cocktails play on traditional Asian ingredients, like Japanese sake and aged whisky. Refreshingly, the dress code is casual too.
If you’re looking for dance into the early hours, head to Vain. The two-storey nightclub located in downtown Orland offers up a rooftop bar plus three huge dance floors. The in-house DJ is renowned for pumping out crowd-pleasing tunes from hip-hop to reggae. Glam up Miami style – heels and eyelash extensions included – as it’s a proper nightclub.
15. Coca Cola Store
A must-visit for any hardcore Coca Cola fans, the Coca Cola Store is a three-storey retail shop in Disney Springs. You’ll find all the paraphernalia you could ever dream of, from bags to caps to vintage advertisements. But it’s the drinks we’re really here for. Head to the rooftop and grab a smoothie, float or coca-cola cocktail, with choices including a Vanilla Russian made with Coke Vanilla, a Cherry Coke Ripper and an Old Fashioned. The views are excellent too.