Archive | Night Life

Mardi Gras Beach Style

Mardi Gras maskFat Tuesday offers celebrations all over Central Florida and can be a fun time to get out with friends on a week night. Many vacationers and locals will flock to the normal venues of Universal, SeaWorld, Downtown Orlando and Disney, but this Tuesday, I’ll be in the quaint town of New Smyrna Beach (NSB) for their Mardi Gras parade and street celebration.

It’s not the big fanfare you expect from the ‘big boys’ in the region, but a small-town parade is often what many vacationers would treasure should they happen to stumble upon it. NSB’s parade is all of about 7 blocks long down beach side’s Flagler Avenue. The parade which starts at 7:00 p.m. will consist of a string of residents on floats, golf carts, antique cars, Segways and on foot; throwing out candy, beads and showing off some crazy outfits. Since Mardi Gras also happens to fall during Race Week, the famous Budweiser Clydesdale Horses will be making an appearance in this years’ parade.

The fact that many don’t think of New Smyrna Beach to celebrate Mardi Gras is exactly why you’ll be glad you did. It’s not overly crowded, it’s fun, it’s real, it’s inexpensive, small-town America. People are friendly and downright neighborly. There many wonderful restaurants to dine at before the parade, plenty of bars to party at after the parade, and hotels and B&B’s to stay at overnight.  ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Come early and expect to walk a few blocks due to the lack of parking. The shops are wonderful and easy to spend a few hours browsing while waiting on the parade. Do not miss Dolly’s Gift Shop at 405 Flagler Ave. I could spend an hour in that shop easily.

Spend this Tuesday in NSB and be sure to catch some beads and a piece of small town charm. Wednesday will be here soon enough and you can go back to the crowds, standing in line and fighting the traffic.

Fun things to do this weekend

As usual, Central Florida has plenty of fun things to do this weekend outside of the theme parks to keep you busy.  That is, after you recuperate from the Cinco de Mayo parties!

Our Orlando Predators arena football team will be taking on arch rivals the Tampa Bay Storm this Friday, May 6th.  If you’re visiting or have never been to an arena football game, they are a blast.  The field is smaller than a normal football field so there is LOTS of back & forth action.  The crowd is normally pretty rowdy, but it is good fun, and a great opportunity to check out the new, “green”  Amway Center, home of our Orlando Magic.  (Who, unfortunately, are not continuing in the playoffs.)  For Friday’s game, this is also a special ‘bike night’ so if you are local or a tourist who is riding or have rented a motorcycle, this is a great deal for you.  Special ticket prices and FREE bike parking in front of the arena ($20 value).  Visit www.CarolinaDave.net for all the details.

On Saturday, May 7th, you can check oput the 12th annual Bluegrass Festival at Magnollia Park.  This event runs from 10am to 6pm and features the Porchdogs, Moonlite Express, Pine Creek, the Ramblin’ Rose Bank, and more.

May 6th thru the 8th, you can catch comedian Bobby Lee at the Orlando Improv Comedy Club.  He’s appeared on “The Tonight Show”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”, and was a regular on “MADtv”.

If theatre is more your taste, the Orlando Cabaret Festival is continuing through May 15th at the Mad Cow Theatre Company.

Also running Friday thru Sunday is the world premier of The Mommies, a musical blog.  This show is playing at the Plaza Live Orlando and is all about moms.  A great idea for Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday.  And, there are lots of options for things to do with mom on this special day.  If Mom is a Disney fan, or you’re in town visiting the Orlando theme parks on Mother’s Day, you might want to check out a couple of Mother’s Day buffets at Disney. The Grand Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel as well as Storyteller’s Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa both feature Disney characters (Cinderella and her princess friends in the Grand Ballroom, and Chip ‘n Dale and friends at Storyteller’s Cafe) and a “Royal Buffet for Mother’s Day”. Also, Capone’s Dinner & Show will be serving up their version of a spectacular Mother’s Day Buffet on Sunday night. On Mother’s Day, all moms receive a carnation flower and special recognition from the awesome characters in the show.  The cost for this Mother’s Day Buffet and Orlando Dinner Show is only $26.99 (plus tax & gratuity) per adult and $16.99 for kids (4-12 years, 3 & under are free).  This includes the show, all-you-can-eat buffet dinner, dessert, and drinks.

Cinco de Mayo 2011

Happy Cinco de MayoYes, Orlando is the theme park capital of the U.S., but it is also a great party town.  There are so many fun things to do, and Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated all over town, from Downtown Orlando to Walt Disney World.  Many people think the annual celebration on May 5th is the Mexican Independence Day.  However, Cinco De Mayo is actually the celebration commemorating the Mexican militia victory over the French army in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.  But, you don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate – besides, when do you get a chance to wear that sombrero? Clubs and bars around town will be filled with ponchos, sombreros, fake mustaches, and drink specials for the celebrations this Thursday (for those over 21).

The Mexican Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot will be THE place to be at the theme park.  Along with traditional Mexican entrées at La Hacienda De San Angel, San Angel Inn, and La Cava del Tequila, you will also be treated to the Mariachi Band and the Tequila BarCityWalk Orlando’s Latin Quarter will be celebrating with one free Dos Equis, Tecate or Margarita from 8-10pm, DJ, live band, $5 food specials, and drink specials ($7 cover after 8pm).  Pointe Orlando on International Drive features Adobe Gila’s (home of the 64 oz. Margarita) with live music at their Cinco de Mayo street party.  Also on International Drive, Howl at the Moon will be hosting its “Howlin’ Cinco de Mayo Party”, starting at 7pm with drink specials that include 86-ounce Mega Rita buckets ($7 cover).  The Blue Martini at Mall at Millennia will feature live music and drink specials beginning at 7pm; $5 cover for ladies, $10 for men.

If you’re heading to downtown Orlando, you’re heading in the right direction.  There will be food and drink specials at the many parties all over town.  Church Street Entertainment will feature a “Drinko de Mayo party” starting at 5pm.  The party will feature a free Mexican buffet, games, contests, drink specials and free sombreros to the first 100 people.  The clubs participating are Latitudes, Big Belly Brewery, and ChillersEmber is starting early, beginning its “Ember de Mayo” party at 11am.  They will feature live music, drink specials, a Mexican food and taco station, and free sombreros to the first 100.  Wall Street Plaza’s “Cinco de Mayo Block Party” starts at 5pm, and will feature drink specials, live music, and a strolling mariachi band.  Tip:  Go to Wall Street’s Facebook page and print out a free admission coupon to avoid the $5 cover.

Orlando tourist tip:  With all the great drink specials, be sure to bring a designated driver, or pitch in to get a taxi cab.  It is well worth it – much cheaper than a DUI, and will ensure you end your night safely.

Spotlight: Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar

Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar

With their grand opening October 2010, Baby Grands Dueling Pianos has made quite an impression in the downtown Orlando area. Located in the heart of the Church Street District in Downtown Orlando, Baby Grands is located at 54 W. Church St., Suite 250, Orlando, Florida 32801 (the second floor of the plaza, across from 55 West, Antigua, Chillers and Latitudes). This location brings a fun option for pre- and post-Magic games as well as Bob Carr theatre and show performances. It also attracts a number of regular Downtown Orlando night life crowds.

The dueling piano players provide great entertainment and no night is identical. You can pick your favorite song or music genre and they will really put on a show. The multi-media effects and live entertainment combine for a great show. Even the service crew gets into it. Entertainers often leave the pianos or join them playing the drums, bass and guitar. Some serious talent here.

Baby Grands offers a great selection of specialty cocktails and martinis. They have daily drink specials which are hard to beat. Their menu is not what I would call a dinner menu, but rather a typical bar menu featuring appetizers and wings. Prices range from $4.99 French fries to $17.99 for 20 wings. Good drinking food, but I wouldn’t want this to be my meal for the evening. It does make for a great happy hour party, which, by the way, you can enter to win one (for you and 100 of your friends) on their web site.

Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar also offers a variety of party packages for birthdays, VIP nights, corporate parties and more. They even offer to come to your Orlando venue to perform! The live entertainment guarantees a good time with a private concert that will have you singing and dancing. This would really make for a great dinner show at my annual office party!

Baby Grands is closed on Sunday and Monday and their hours and show times vary during the week. Check their web site before you head out, or call them at 407-849-1911. They also charge a cover, around $5 – $8, so plan on staying awhile. As with any downtown venue, you’ll have to find parking; the Sun Trust parking garage is most convenient for Baby Grands. Overall, it won’t be a cheap night out on the town, but rarely is there an inexpensive way ‘to do’ downtown Orlando for a night.

Baby Grands Dueling Piano Bar may not make the list of top Orlando Dinner Shows, but with the perfect piano players, Baby Grands provides more than a show – even if it’s not dinner; it’s an experience you’ll want to see for yourself.


Bike Week is Comin’ to Town!

If you happen to be in Central Florida March 4-13, you may notice there are many motorcycles on the road, actually around a half million motorcycles! So, PLEASE watch for motorcycles when driving, and always check your blind spots.

Bikers converge from all over for this 10-day event at famous Daytona Beach (and the northerners are ecstatic to be trading in their snow jackets for the sunshine this year). In recent years, the event has spread throughout the Central Florida area, not just confined to Daytona Beach, although that is the main area. Not to worry if you are planning to visit the theme parks though, the bikers typically stick to the biker-themed events.

This annual event originally started with the Daytona 200 race back in January of 1937. The festivities now include concerts, parties, motorcycle racing, contests, street festivals, and people-watching. There are sure to be interesting sights….from the bikes themselves to the people who ride them. Some of the concerts are FREE, with headliners that include Jonny Lang and The Fabulous Thunderbirds (both at Orlando Harley-Davidson), Molly Hatchet (at the Doghouse Bar & Grill) and Skid Row (at Iron Gate Saloon). Many tribute bands will be on hand as well, such as Black Water-Doobie Brothers Tribute, Seven Bridges Road- Eagles Tribute, and Houses of the Holy- Led Zeppelin tribute.

The contests will include burnouts, loud pipes, horsepower contests, as well as plenty of bikini, best buns, and wet t-shirt contests. There will be some great custom bike shows and some ‘old school’ bike shows too. Willie’s Tropical Tattoo (in Ormond Beach) will host their annual old-school bike show on Thursday the March 10th. Main Street Daytona is loaded with bars, vendors, food, and live music. Visit the famous Boot Hill Saloon, The Bank & Blues Club, Dirty Harry’s, The Full Moon Saloon and more! They all have events going on throughout the week. There will be vendors everywhere so there are plenty of shopping opportunities. And, a few swap meets going on as well, where you can find some hard-to-find parts; Fastlane Promotions has a bike show going on daily at the Volusia County Fairgrounds swap meet. Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch Bar in Samsula will have lots of vendors and events including their famous Coleslaw Wrestling. The Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach will have live music daily, as well as burn-outs in their famous burn- out pit. The Daytona International Speedway will be hosting the Daytona 200 race day on March 12th, for the first time on the new racing surface. Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona will have plenty of live music and vendors on hand. Gilly’s Pub 44 in New Smyrna Beach (next to New Smyrna Harley-Davidson) has a full food menu, and will host wet T-shirt and bikini contests. Have fun, be safe!

Orlando Tourist Tip – check out these other helpful links: http://www.officialbikeweek.com/ and http://www.daytonabikeweekevents.com/