Best Nightlife in Tampa

Dance, Play and Party the Night Away at Tampa's Top Nightspots

As the sun goes down and the lights come on, Tampa gets ready to have a good time. While the Ybor City and SoHo neighborhoods may host many of the top spots, there are plenty of options located throughout the city. To help you plan the perfect night out, 10 Best has put together a list of the top options. Get ready to move to the groove, laugh out loud, get lucky, or just sit back and enjoy the show.

From high-brow to low-brow, Tampa has a dynamic live music scene. One of the city's most original live music venues is Skipper's Smokehouse, a legendary local hangout where you will hear both local and national acts playing everything from reggae to ska.

If you're looking for something a little more glamorous, check out Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Casino. Here you'll find everything you need for a complete night out - award-winning restaurants, live music, and of course a massive casino with a full selection of both slots and table games.


Among the most entertaining gay bars in Tampa, Florida, this high-energy club is a sweet spot to shimmy like you mean it on an expansive dance floor bathed in flashing lights. After busting every move you've got, retreat to the balcony where danced-out clubbers sip cheap, tasty drinks and chat with the sociable staff. The Honey Pot also features Steam Fridays with phenomenal drag shows for men and Tease Saturdays with sensational specials for women including $1 drinks from 10 pm - 11 pm. There are also plenty of special events and guest DJs.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Popular on the weekends, the Honey Pot in Ybor City offers something for both men and women.

Skye's expert tip: Check out the popular drag show Fridays at midnight.

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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.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: There is always something going on at Gaspar's Grotto where you can party like a pirate every night in three indoor and outdoor party spaces.

Skye's expert tip: Sunday brunch is fit for a hung-over pirate with a full buffet, unlimited mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar.

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Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Casino is one of the biggest in the country and a recent $700 million expansion increased their gaming space to over 200,00 square. This opulent casino is decorated with impressive displays of world-class rock and roll memorabilia and offers 24/7 access to a huge selection of your favorite games. Whether you are partial to slot machines or want to try your hand in the poker room, there is a game for everyone. The over 5,000 Vegas-style slot machines include classic favorites as well the newest games available with options for all budgets from high limit to penny slots. There are over 175 table games, offering Blackjack, 3-Card Poker, Texas Hold 'Em and more. More exotic games can be found in the Jubao Palace with a variety of Asian-inspired table games including Pai Gow Tiles, Asian Poker and Baccarat.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Open 24/7 and featuring high stakes games and thousands of slots, the fun never stops at Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Casino.

Skye's expert tip: Take a break from the action to visit the multiple world-class restaurants and live music venues located throughout the casino.

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Sparkman Wharf
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Yet another riff on the food hall concept, Sparkman Wharf offers the culinary stylings of ten of Tampa's top chefs as they experiment with new concepts. Dubbed a dining garden, visitors sample from specially developed street food menus. The twist is that the restaurants are all working out of renovated shipping containers. Dining options run the gamut from raw oysters to French Vietnamese, to gourmet popsicles. The first finished project of Tampa's billion-dollar Water Street development, this open-air meeting space features dining options, live music, comfortable seating, lawn games, and of course, a beautiful view of the waterfront.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: With live music three nights a week and plenty of outdoor seating and games, Tampa's Sparkman Wharf offers more than just delicious food and artisan beverages.

Local Expert tip: This is a family-friendly spot that offers a fun night out for all ages.

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More than just a restaurant, the Columbia is a Tampa institution. Since 1905, this living history lesson has been serving some of the most authentic Spanish/Cuban food in Tampa Bay. The menu is expansive, spanning a wide array of traditional beef, pork, and seafood dishes made in the same way for generations. Today there are several locations in Florida, but the flagship restaurant is still located in the heart of Tampa's historic district, Ybor City. The building is a beautiful Spanish revival with Moorish influences and features hand-painted tiles, ornate antique furniture and rich fabrics throughout. The restaurant has been added on to over the years and now features 15 dining rooms that seat over 1,700 patrons and encompasses an entire city block. The Columbia even hosts Flamenco shows every evening except Sundays. No one forgets a night at the Columbia.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Enjoy the Columbia's historic ambiance, authentic cuisine, and Spanish culture, complete with two dazzling Flamenco shows a night.

Skye's expert tip: Florida's oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

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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.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Tampa's premier comedy club, the Improv, features nationally known comics and is conveniently located in heart of Ybor City.

Skye's expert tip: Show are 21+ unless otherwise indicated.

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Topgolf Tampa
Photo courtesy of Topgolf Tampa

Located in Brandon, a 15 minute drive from downtown is Topgolf Tampa. This unique entertainment complex offers a 3-level golf range for players of all ages and abilities to hone their skills playing target-oriented games. A state-of-the-art gaming system logs players in and keeps track of both the game and the score using microchipped golf balls. There are 109 golf bays that can accommodate up to 6 people and are rented by the hour. Each bay has a host that provides full food and beverage service. In addition, there is a large restaurant and bar, games lounge and outdoor patio. If you're on a budget, try and visit on Tuesday which is half price for the hourly bay rental.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Topgolf in Brandon has enjoyed tremendous popularity by employing a unique combination of range games, good food, and adult beverages.

Skye's expert tip: Weekends can be very busy and you may have to wait as golf bays are assigned on a first come first serve basis.

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A legendary local hangout, Skipper's Smokehouse is wonderfully Old Florida and attracts a faithful crowd of regulars. The decor is perfectly done in Florida-shack style, looking like it's made of corrugated tin and brightly painted plywood held together with a few nails. Although it started out as a smokehouse, Skipper's is now renowned for its seafood and booking some of the top bands in the area. Known as the "Skipperdome," the outside music venue welcomes performers of all musical genres who play to appreciative crowds beneath moss-draped oaks. On any given night you can enjoy rock, soul, jazz, zydeco, blues, ska and reggae under the stars.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Skipper's "Skipperdome" is a legendary outdoor live music venue in north Tampa with the flavor of Old Florida.

Skye's expert tip: You're here for the music, but this might also be your best chance to try some Florida delicacies, like gator tail and smoked mullet.

Read more about Skipper's Smokehouse →

The undisputed leader among Tampa's craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing prides itself on creating nationally prized craft brews on an intimate scale. There is a large, unpretentious tasting room, perfect for checking out what's on tap and a great place to gather with friends. This brewery focuses on the art of craft brewing and offers a diverse selection of highly rated brews, seasonal ales and stouts. They do not serve food, but patrons can enjoy the culinary delights of a rotating line-up of food trucks on most Fridays through Sundays. In addition, four behind-the-scene tours are offered daily Wednesday through Sunday if you want to see the brewing in action. Check their website for times for tour times.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Cigar City Brewing is Tampa's internationally acclaimed craft brewery and features a large, comfortable tasting room to enjoy their latest brews.

Skye's expert tip: Try their Maduro Brown Ale which recently won a gold medal for the Brown Porter category at this year's Great American Beer Festival.

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David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Straz Center is Tampa's world-class center for the performing arts and hosts most of the area's major cultural performances. Here you can enjoy performances from the Florida Orchestra and Opera Tampa, as well as popular music greats such as Lena Horn and the Isley Brothers. The Straz also hosts a full calendar of Broadway musicals and local theater productions. The facility features five individual theaters and several on-site dining options including Maestro's Restaurant, Café, and On the River that are open before most events. The largest and most impressive theater is the 2,610 seat Carol Morsani Hall with state-of-the-art acoustics and a 120 foot stage.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Visitors can enjoy a variety of world-class cultural performances at the Straz Center for Performing Arts in downtown Tampa.

Skye's expert tip: Before the performance enjoy a light dinner or drinks at their outdoor cafe featuring views of the Hillsborough River.

Read more about David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts →


Meet Skye Rodgers

Skye is a freelance writer that adopted Tampa as her hometown over a decade ago and never looked back. As a native of Canada, Skye has happily embraced the no snow climate, and in her spare time...  More About Skye