Best gay bars and clubs of Tampa: the ultimate guide for the LGBTQ traveller

Stefan Arestis

Tampa is a lot of fun and very gay friendly!

It has a young and diverse population due to the large community of students, expats and the strong sports culture with two notorious home teams: the “Tampa Bay Lightening” hockey team and the Tampa Bay Bucaneers” American football team.

All gay travellers to Tampa will find something to love about the city, in particular the GaYborhood in Ybor. For general inspiration, check out our best things to do in Tampa guide. Meanwhile, this is our detailed gay guide to Tampa focusing on the best bars, clubs, places to stay and more:

Gay neighbourhood of Tampa

The gay neighbourhood of Tampa is based in the city's historic district called “Ybor City”, specifically along 7th Avenue. A coalition of businesses in the area created a LGBT Chamber of Commerce business group called “GaYbor”, from which the gay neighbourhood of Tampa affectionally takes its name.

In GaYbor, you will find the main gay clubs, bars, bathhouses of Tampa, as well as a number of boutique and vintage shops like La FranceIn the evening, especially on weekends, 7th Avenue comes alive as the crowds hit the gay bars like Bradleys and Honey Pots (see more below).

The GaYborhood is also home to Tampa Pride, which takes place on the last weekend in March with a Diversity Parade. Also look out for the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festivalheld every October.

BONUS TIP: we highly recommend getting the Tampa Bay CityPass, which for just $107, includes entry into various attractions like Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and more. It also allows you to skip the queues, which will save you a lot of time!

Ybor the gay neighborhood of Tampa
Blending in with the GaYborhood of Tampa

Gay hotels in Tampa

Whilst there are no exclusively male-only gay resorts in Tampa, there are several gay owned and LGBTQ friendly hotels. We've set set out the best ones below, based on our personal experience:

Aloft Hotel

Super trendy hotel in downtown Tampa with a popular pool area that's great for chilling in during the day, then comes alive with locals after sunset.

Aloft is located just opposite the University of Tampa overlooking the city's Riverwalk. The rooms are quite small with limited storage space, but it's made up by the fact that it's very stylish, hip and even pet-friendly! See more in our video below. Rooms at Aloft start from $300.

 

Casa Puente Guesthouse

Casa Puente is owned and managed by super cute gay couple Martin and Eric. It is located towards the north side of Tampa, near Busch Gardens.

The boys have 2 private ensuite rooms in the main house starting from $65 a night. They also have an entire studio which they rent out from $120 a night. Nudists will love their clothing optional outdoor pool, spa, patio and fire pit.

Epicurean Hotel

The Epicurean is one of the most romantic hotels for couples in Tampa, perfect for special occasions. Almost every gay local we asked raved about this hotel and highly recommended it for special occasions.

We loved the food at their “Elevage” restaurant, and also tried the couple's massage at the “Evangeline Spa”, which was goood! See more in our video below. Rooms at the Epicurean start from around $450 a night.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

Gay bars in Tampa

These are the main gay bars of Tampa, most of which are based in or around Seventh Avenue in Ybor City with the exception of City Side Lounge:

  • Bradley’s: we always started the night with drinks at Bradley's. Whatever day of the week, there's always something happening here. For example, even on Mondays it gets busy here due to their “two-for-one” happy hour on all drinks. Other events include the amateur strip contest on Thursdays and the drag shows on Fridays. Bradley's is open everyday from 4pm to 3am.
  • City Side Lounge: one of the best bars for cocktails and karaoke. They also have some of the best drag shows in Tampa (see more below). City Side is located at 3703 Henderson Blvd, outside of Ybor City, southwest of downtown, and is open daily from 11am to 2:30am.
  • Reservoir: dive bar which describes itself as “Ybor's City's finest Hole in the Wall”. It's super relaxed and friendly here, with pool tables and games you can play with your friends. Reservoir is open daily from 12pm to 3am.
  • First Chance Last Chance: gay friendly mixed bar with live music. We particularly loved their elaborate cocktail concoctions. Beer fans will also love their local craft beers, which is served on tap. It has a cool open-air courtyard and outdoor bar area. It is open every evening till 3am.
Walking through Ybor City to discover the gay bars of Tampa
Sashaying our way through Ybor City ready to hit the gay bars

Gay clubs in Tampa

These are the main gay clubs and parties in Tampa, which are located on 7th Avenue unless stated otherwise:

  • Honey Pot: ask anyone where to go on the weekend and they'll say Honey Pot! It's the city's most popular weekend gay club with “Steam Fridays” and “Tease Saturdays”. They have live DJs, hot dancers and many cute local Tampa boys partying away. Honey Pot is only open Friday and Saturday evenings, until 3am.
  • Southern Nights: another staple on the Tampa Seventh Avenue GaYbor scene. It has some of the best drag shows in the city. Look out for celeb appearances here, particularly queens from Ru Paul's Drag Race like Derrick Berry and Nina Flowers. Southern Nights is open every evening except Mondays, until 3am (11pm on Sundays).
  • Cristoph's: the leather/fetish gay club of Tampa spread over 2 floors. It has themed events like “Bear Soup” and “Bingo Night”. For details of the latest events, check their website. Christoph's is located outside of Ybor City at 2606 N Armenia Avenue, and is open every evening until 3am. 
  • The Castle: is a mixed and gay friendly multi-level club outside of Ybor City. You can't miss it due to its dramatic Gothic exterior. Inside it includes a dungeon bar, saloon and courtyard area. It has different themed events each week depending on the season, which include Halloween, fetish parties, Christmas, Thanksgiving and more. The Castle is located at 5305 N Armenia Avenue and only open on Friday and Saturday evenings until 3am.
Dressed up for a gay night out in Tampa
“Matching outfits?! No you have to change this time!” …Honey Pot here we come…!

Drag shows in Tampa

These are the places to come for the best drag shows in Tampa (note: Hamburger Mary's Tampa has closed down):

  • Bradley's: their slogan says it all: “drinks divas dance”. The drag shows at Bradley's are infamous. They take place in their Diva Dance Room and includes the “La Cage Aux Folle” show. Check out their website for details of the next drag show.
  • Southern Nights: drag shows on most nights of the week, with popular queens like Miss Vanjie, Roxxxy Andrews and Derrick Berry performing. Check out the Events section of their Facebook page for details of the next night.
  • City Side: has a mix of drag shows like “Miss City Side” and drag competitions like “SLAY Talent”. For details of the next drag event at City Slide, check the Events section of their Facebook page.
Bradley's on 7th one of best gay drag shows bars in Tampa
Bradley's one of the best drag bars in Tampa

Gay bathhouses in Tampa

There is one main gay bathhouse in Tampa and one mixed gay friendly sauna:

  • Tampa Mens Club: has themed daily nights like “Twinkie Tuesday” and “Bear and Cub Thursdays”. Check the Calendar section on their website for details of their latest events. Tampa Mens Club is located at 4061 West Crest Ave, Tampa, FL 33614 and is open 24/7.
  • Shangri-La Bath & Sauna: a Korean inspired gay friendly mixed sauna, which also offers massages. Shangri-La is located at 5636 E Hillsborough Avenue, Tampa, FL 33610 and is open 24/7.
Tampa Mens Club the main gay sauna in Tampa

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, an activity or your insurance, we’ll earn a small commission. There is never an extra cost to you for using these links and it helps us keep the site going.

Read more from our big trip in Florida:

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

8 thoughts on “Best gay bars and clubs of Tampa: the ultimate guide for the LGBTQ traveller”

  1. OMG You left out the other half of Tampa Bay – the most gay friendly of them all – Saint Petersburg! Nice write up on Trampa, err I mean Tampa 🙂 Come back and check out Saint Petersburg — I was born and raised here. Brian is correct about the small rivalry — it seems that people that reside in Tampa think that St Pete is far, when it actually only takes me 15-20 minutes to drive there. I enjoy the best of both cities but prefer our little-big city of St Pete. Even though Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in Florida, you would never know it due to our well planned interstate and local roads/highways. Come check us out at St Pete Pride in June!

  2. Most people fly into Tampa and head across the bay to St Petersburg!! more laid back, busier downtown, and great beaches and museums.

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