Explore Ybor's Vibrant Nightlife: From Laid-Back Lounges to High-Energy Dance Clubs
By Skye Rodgers
Tampa Local Expert
Ybor City is Tampa's enchanting historic district, conveniently located close to the downtown and Channelside neighborhoods. As darkness falls, Ybor City is transformed into a hub of adult-oriented entertainment as the bars and clubs fling open their doors to welcome nighttime revelers. To help you decide on the best options, 10 Best has compiled a list of ten popular hot spots.
Whatever type of nighttime entertainment you are looking for can be found here. Live music performances abound at hot-spots such as the RITZ which has featured national artists including Lady Gaga. Also home every Friday night to Tampa's most popular dance party, Czar in the Ritz.
If you're looking to taste a few of Tampa's popular craft beers, check out the Tampa Bay Brewing Company that is at the forefront of the local brewing scene featuring a selection in-house brews such as the popular Old Elephant Foot IPA. The pub grub featured here is also very good.
The nighttime atmosphere in Ybor City is reminiscent of New Orleans' Bourbon Street as party-goers parade from venue to venue sampling the wide variety of nighttime attractions. In addition to the bars and clubs, you can check out one of the many tattoo parlors, buy a souvenir, relax with a Hookah pipe, or satisfy the munchies at late-night pizza joints.
10 The Castle
This massive club has a different theme for nearly every night of the week, ranging from pop video night to goth or trance. There are five different rooms in the facility, each of them capable of a different purpose depending on the theme or private bookings. Despite the alternative clientele, everyone in The Castle is friendly and welcoming. It's a good bet that you'll leave this club having seen something completely new. Because The Castle is so wide-ranging, it's a good idea to check the website to see what you might be getting yourself into. (813-247-7547)
9 Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre
Get your yuks on at Tampa's Improv Comedy Club located in the Ybor City historic district. This is the same Club that for 40 years has launched the careers of countless famous comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, David Spade and Bette Midler, just to name a few. Tampa's version showcases up-and-coming talent as well as nationally-known comedians on their stage, complete with the iconic brick backdrop everyone knows so well. The Club features a full menu and a well-stocked bar to keep you fortified for any laugh attacks that may occur. Reservations are recommended and shows run Wednesday through Sunday. ((813) 864-4000)
8 The Orpheum
Devoted to nurturing live musical acts, this club supports both local and national performers. The sound system is first-rate and, on nights when the DJs run things, there's a dance floor for those who feel inclined to move and groove. Drink specials are offered during the week, and there's a nice selection of draft beers as well. If you're curious about what Tampa's music scene can offer, drop in for the evening and check out the talent and the atmosphere. Among the name acts who have performed here are Juliana Hatfield, Make Up, and Michelle Malone. (813-248-9500)
Rock, jazz, ska, dubstep, hip-hop, indie, metal, reggae -- the Tampa, Florida live music scene doesn't get more varied than this. The Crowbar, a local fave strung with Christmas lights, offers a clean, intimate space in which concertgoers can feel completely absorbed by the music. Bar service is consistently stellar, and if your eardrums need a break, you can pamper them on the quiet outdoor patio. Open mic nights and karaoke are also well-loved here. Cover varies from free to $10, so it's a very reasonable price to pay for enjoying live, original music. (813-241-8600)
6 Gaspar's Grotto
Gaspar's Grotto is a popular bar and restaurant located in Tampa's Ybor City historic neighborhood. Perfect for visitor's who have not had the opportunity to experience the annual Gasparilla Celebration, Gaspar's celebrates the famous pirate invasion all year long and everyone gets to party like a pirate. Three large bar areas offer patrons options for seating and entertainment and there is always something going on. If you get hungry, Gaspar's offers some very decent bar grub from Tampa favorites like the Cuban sandwich and Devil Crab to the hottest hot wings in the city. (813-248-5900)
5 G. Bar
Electrifying energy and playful patrons make G. Bar one of Tampa's most popular gay bars. Located in historic Ybor City, G. Bar is also the largest gay club in the city offering 8,000 square feet of party space. This raved about hangout boasts a dramatic atmosphere, complete with dazzling laser projections, plasma screens and a thumping top-notch sound system. The club features many themed events ranging from drag shows to drum circles and dance nights for both sexes. Additionally, cutting-edge live music, such as the pre-fame Lady Gaga performance, provides dynamic beats for the packed dance floor. (813-247-1016)
4 New World Brewery
Granted, this tucked away bar may be a touch more avant-garde than the average Ybor offering, but New World is still worth checking out if you deem yourself a fan of live music and good beer. Indeed, the groovy little shack books a wide range of acts from week to week, and it wouldn't be at all odd to stop in on one night and see an up-and-coming alt-rock group only to come back the following night to find folks nodding their heads to cool fusion jazz. Performances take place most Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. As for the libations, this is one of the few places in town that can boast about their vast selection of local and international beers. (813-248-4969)
3 Club Prana
The Ybor club scene sees its fair share of turnaround, but Club Prana has been around for more than a decade because it isn't afraid to reinvent itself on occasion. With five different levels this ultra-modern dance club features an eclectic mix of latin, hip-hop, reggae, and dance music. Most people clubbing in Ybor choose to at least make a stop here to check out the DJs and take advantage of the traffic drink specials. The sound and light system is unmatched in the area, making sure you lose your bearings by the end of the night.The exclusive rooftop bar is a great place to have a conversation or just look at the lights of downtown Tampa in the distance. (813-241-4139, 813-277-4321)
2 Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Handcrafted brews are always on tap at this family-run microbrewery, located in Centro Ybor. Within these walls, patrons clamor for house and seasonal brews, cask-conditioned ales and special beers created by other independent breweries. The place has a comfortable, welcoming ambiance, and there are multiple bars. Happy Hour is particularly good because it lets you sample six of the house specialties for a single price. Once you've figured out what you like, then go back for full-sized servings of your favorite. If you need a little sustenance along the way, try out the authentic pub grub or any of their American classics. (813-247-1422)
1 The RITZ Ybor
This poll-topping venue is hailed by many as the premier spot in Tampa, Florida for live music. Originally built in 1917, the RITZ underwent a $2 million renovation and now boasts three magnificent rooms, a grand foyer, multiple full-service bars and state-of-the-art sound and lighting. The venue is large enough to bring in top music industry names like Lady Gaga and Interpol but intimate enough to provide excellent sight-lines and electrifying musician-audience interaction. Ticket prices are reasonable and there is a good drink selection. General admission only and no seating in the concert area. So, get there early and wear comfortable shoes! (813-247-2555)
About Skye Rodgers
Skye has lived in Tampa for over 16 years and spends much of her time exploring the region and discovering its hidden treasures. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no cold, no snow climate and enjoys basking on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and navigating the waters of Tampa Bay. When not out exploring Tampa, Skye is a freelance writer and public relations professional. She currently provides public relations counsel on a freelance basis to non-profits, social enterprises and small business.
Read more about Skye Rodgers here.