Away from the conquering rodent infestation and the billowing masses of the studios, there is an alternative to the stereotypical sight-seeing, 70-dollars-a-day Orlando vacation. Like Bourbon Street is to New Orleans, Church Street is the nightlife mecca of downtown Orlando. A playground sprawled beneath the concrete trail of I-4, Church Street is a pulsing vein cutting through urban Orlando.
So where to start? Begin anywhere the window signs flash “open,” and forget the idea of retracing your steps. When you hit Big Belly Brewery, the roar of the 1920s comes alive and swinging. The upstairs drinking-child of J.E. Nicholson and Bernard Dreyfus, the bar was rumored to have been a speakeasy in 1922, above the duo’s then-clothing store. With a packed dance floor and nickel beers every Wednesday night, Big Belly celebrates history in a modern-era atmosphere.
But the historic brick building is home to more than just Big Belly. The one and only Chillers is the place locals recommend and hang around. Named for its frozen daiquiri bar, Chillers maintains a rotating door of locals and out-of-towners alike. With dollar beers every Wednesday and a constantly throbbing dance floor, Chillers is never short of a good time.
From a rooftop bar under a late night sky- the highest reach of Church Street- sit and relax. Take a breath from one of the best views in town. Where are you? You’re at Latitudes. Like the stoop of a tropical inner-city escape, minus the brown-bagged bottles, Latitudes is the perfect spot for those eager to take advantage of the surroundings. A blend of relaxation and beauty, Latitudes is a blatant reminder of Florida’s island appeal.
Eventually the night begins to fade. Last call was 30 minutes ago. You’re short a couple bucks but relish stories with slightly cloudy recollection. Was it worth it? Every city needs a drinking residency. Not only as an outlet for relieving stress and cutting back, but also to conjure a social realm outside the home. After all, people need interaction. With a good environment and a strong drink, the streets of downtown Orlando are ready to be paved and trampled by drunken unity.