Best Early Entertainment in Tampa

Catch Tampa's Top Early Shows for Fun AND a Good Night's Sleep

We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep, even when we’re on vacation, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss a fun evening out in Tampa. There are a variety of early entertainment options for those who need their beauty sleep. Whether you’re a family with small children, or just don’t like to stay up late, here is a list of 10 crowd-pleasing entertainment options that begin and end before 10 PM.

If you’re looking for the natives, you’ll find them kicking back with an adult beverage while local musicians perform covers of Jimmy Buffett tunes. One such spot is Rick's on the River. Rick's features live music almost daily beginning between 3pm and 7pm on their outdoor patio overlooking the Hillsborough River.

There are however, many other types of entertainment available to enjoy. Depending on the day of the week, you can enjoy everything from a Broadway show to a Flamenco performance. If you’re looking for a good laugh, Tampa’s Improv Comedy Club has early shows complete with dinner.


MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre is Tampa Bay's largest outdoor concert venue with a capacity of 20,000. The biggest names in the music industry play here as well as up-and-coming acts. The large stage accommodates all the but the biggest shows and most seats provide a good view. Seating is mostly covered and concerts go off rain or shine. More affordable tickets are available for lawn seating at the rear of the venue, however this area is not protected from the elements so you take your chances. Food and beverage concessions are available including some alcohol sales.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Performances at Tampa's unique outdoor concert venue, Midflorida Amphitheatre, usually begin by 7pm.

Skye's expert tip: Chair rentals are available at the venue for $5 for those sitting on the lawn.

Read more about MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre at the Florida State Fairgrounds →

The Sail Plaza
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Nestled in the heart of downtown, The Sail Plaza is a 360 degree, outdoor bar and restaurant located right on the waterfront. Recently renovated, the Plaza now features more outdoor seating and the culinary delights of Ray's Fish Camp. Convenient to downtown amenities such as the Tampa Bay History Center, the Tampa Convention Center, and Amalie Arena, the Sail Pavilion often hosts locals and tourists on their way to or from downtown activities. Also located along the Tampa Riverwalk, many walkers, bikers and joggers will stop for a cold drink and a bite to eat as they pass by. You can even visit by boat as there is public docking space right in front.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Located on Tampa's beautiful downtown waterfront, the Sail Plaza offers live music starting at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 1 pm on Sunday.

Skye's expert tip: You pay for location, so expect higher than normal prices for both drinks and food.

Read more about The Sail Plaza →

Seminole Heights
Red Star Rock Bar
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

Red Star Rock Bar is located in Tampa's trendy Seminole Heights neighborhood. Occupying a small narrow storefront on Florida Avenue, what it lacks in size inside, it makes up for with an outdoor patio and stage area outside. The decor is distinctly rock and roll with plenty of red and black accented with leopard print and images of rock legends on the wall. Their calendar is packed with events every day of the week and live local bands play almost every Friday and Saturday beginning at 8pm. While there is no kitchen, Red Star offers a rotating schedule of some of Tampa's best food trucks.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: There is always something going on at Red Star Rock Bar with live, local bands playing twice a week starting at 8pm.

Skye's expert tip: This is a hole-in-the-wall bar with basic beverages, not the spot for a craft cocktail.

Read more about Red Star Rock Bar →


If you want to get off the beaten path, try Rick's on the River. Located on the Hillsborough River just north of downtown, Rick's is a popular local hangout catering to the river boating community. Amenities include a boat ramp and marina with docking space for visitors and overnight guests. Ample outdoor seating and a large bar area provide great vantage points for enjoying views of the river and downtown skyline. Combine that with three fully-stocked bars, good food and affordable prices, and you have the perfect recipe for a good time. There is also live entertainment every night starting around 7pm.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Enjoy daily live music overlooking Tampa's scenic Hillsborough River at Rick's on the River.

Skye's expert tip: If you're an oyster fan, Rick's brings them in fresh and local. Try their "Jacked-Up" version.

Read more about Rick's on the River →

East Tampa
Council Oak
Photo courtesy of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Sleek and sophisticated, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood is located in Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. A popular destination for prime steaks, fresh seafood and selections from the award winning wine list, the atmosphere is contemporary and upscale, and the service is second-to-none. The steaks at Council Oak are 100% U.S.D.A. prime, dry aged 21 to 28 days, and cut on-site in their own butcher shop. Seafood options include fresh and local fish, Alaskan King Crab legs and their custom saltwater tanks are filled with live Maine lobsters. Live entertainment is provided nightly Sunday - Thursday in the lounge which also offers a carefully curated menu of happy hour appetizers and craft cocktails. Reservations are recommended.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The lounge at Council Oak in Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Casino features live music nightly in the early evenings.

Skye's expert tip: If you loved your steak, the on-site butcher shop will sell you your favorite cuts to take home.

Read more about Council Oak →

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 Early Entertainment because: Tampa's Improv Comedy Club will make you laugh till it hurts with shows beginning at 7:30 or 8:00pm.

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

Read more about Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre →

Tampa Theatre
Photo courtesy of Skye Rodgers

The Tampa Theatre is one of the country's best preserved examples of the elaborate "movie palaces" popular in the early 1900s. Outside, the Theatre is fairly non-descript save for the huge vintage red neon sign. But inside, visitors are transported to a beautiful Mediterranean courtyard surrounded by garden flowers and statuary while overhead stars twinkle in the night sky. Built in 1926 and saved from almost certain destruction in 1976, the Tampa Theatre is a treasured landmark as well as home to over 600 events a year. Some of the most popular events include film festivals, concerts by national acts, first run movie screenings, and a very popular WineFest. Visit their website for event details.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Tampa Theatre is a beautiful and historic movie palace with showings almost daily at 7:30pm.

Skye's expert tip: Full access, backstage tours are offered a couple times a month. Check their online calendar for details.

Read more about Tampa Theatre →

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 Early Entertainment because: Experience the passion of Flamenco at Tampa's Columbia Restaurant with shows most nights starting between 7pm - 7:30pm.

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

Read more about Columbia Restaurant →

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, dance troupes, and comedy acts. 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. In addition, most weekends the Straz center hosts free concerts featuring local music acts on their outdoor stage.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Straz Center offers world class local and national music acts and entertainment options that start at 7 or 8 pm.

Skye's expert tip: Before the performance enjoy a light dinner or drinks at the 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