Best gay bars and clubs of Tampa: the ultimate guide for the LGBTQ traveller
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:
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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 France“. In 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 Festival” held every October.
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.
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. Check the Events section of their website for details of the next events. The Castle is located at 5305 N Armenia Avenue and only open on Friday and Saturday evenings until 3am.
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.
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.
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:
- Casa Puente Guesthouse: owned and managed by super cute gay couple Martin and Eric. It is located towards the north side of Tampa, near Busch Gardens. They have 2 private ensuite rooms in the main house starting from $65 a night, as well as an entire studio which you can rent from $120 a night. Nudists will love their clothing optional outdoor pool, spa, patio and fire pit. Read more about Casa Puente in their Misterbnb listing.
- Aloft Hotel: trendy hotel in downtown Tampa, which has a popular pool bar area. It's located just opposite the University of Tampa overlooking the city's Riverwalk. Rooms are quite small with limited storage space, but it's made up by the fact that it's very stylish, hip and pet-friendly! See more in our video below. Rooms at Aloft start from $300 and you can read more about it here.
- Epicurean Hotel: this 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, and you can read more about it on Booking.com.
For more gay friendly options, we recommend checking out the listings for Tampa on Misterbnb where there are a variety of different listings to suit all budgets, whether a room in a shared home, or separate apartment to rent.
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!
Read more from our big trip in Florida:
- Sarasota: our Sarasota gay guide and best things to do in Sarasota.
- Florida Keys: gay guide to Key West and best gay resorts in Key West.
- Fort Lauderdale: detailed gay guide to Fort Lauderdale and article about the best gay clubs and bars of Wilton Manors.