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Visit Gay Tampa: Florida Travel Guide

gay Tampa rainbow Steps

How Gay is Tampa?

While Tampa might not be the first Florida city that comes to mind when planning an LGBTQ-inclusive vacation, this gay-friendly destination should be at the top of your list. In fact, the Tampa Bay region has often been referred to as Tampa Gay.

Tampa’s Lesbian Mayor

Tampa’s mayor, Jane Castor, is the first openly gay mayor elected in the history of Tampa. While the region has been home to LGBTQ-supportive politicians for years, Castor made headlines when she won in a landslide vote and gained bipartisan support.

The Gayborhood

Tampa’s gaYBORhood is Ybor City, the gay and Cuban hub for fun, food and entertainment. Tampa Bay gays will feel right at home in this eclectic town. From trendy bars to delicious eateries to energetic nightclubs, Ybor is definitely the place to celebrate pride all year long.

Tampa Pride

If you want to party with the LGBTQ community, then visit at the end of May through June to take part in Tampa Pride and other pride events around the region.

Tampa Pride Ybor City Green Jeep
Tampa Pride in Ybor City. Photo by Rachel Covello

On May 22, 2021, gay-friendly Tampa was host to the first national pride festival post-COVID in Ybor City. The festival was a major success. Dozens of unique vendors and sponsors united in celebration after a difficult year of isolation. Parade participants made their way down 7th Avenue tossing beads and candy to eager onlookers. Government officials, businesses, restaurants, drag performers, city workers and so many more participate in this festive event that kicks off pride season throughout the region.

LGBTQ Non-Profit Organizations

Metro Inclusive Health has a an LGBTQ-focused health clinic in Ybor City and hosts fundraisers throughout the year, both in St Petersburg and Tampa. PLAG Tampa and PLAG Riverview are also very active in the Tampa region, offering support to LGBTQ residents, youth and parents.

Watch my full Visit Gay Tampa Florida Travel Guide episode below:

About Tampa

Tampa is a bustling city rich with cuban history. Tampa’s establishment as a city in 1845 marked the beginning of a successful trading hub in the United States. In fact, the famous Tampa Bay port is the seventh-largest in the nation.

Known as Cigar City, Tampa’s history is deeply entwined with Cuban culture and influence, most famously seen in Ybor City. Over a century ago, Vicente Martinez Ybor founded the first cigar factory in Tampa. This is also where the Cuban revolutionary, Jose Marti, gave his famous independence speech in the fight against Spain.

Tampa Bay Waterfront
Downtown Tampa along the Hillsborough River. Photo by Rachel Covello

Today, Tampa offers a wide variety of experiences for all. Ride the trolley to The Florida Aquarium and then head over to Sparkman Wharf for a chill vibe in one of the city’s trendiest parks. Take a scenic walk along the Riverwalk to enjoy a bit of education and culture at the The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and Tampa Museum of Arts. Enjoy fine dining aboard the luxurious Yacht StarShip sunset cruise and grab a Broadway show at the Straz Center for Performing Arts for a little romance. Jump aboard the Pirate Water Taxi and sail down to Ulele or Armature Works to experience the hottest restaurant spots the city has to offer. Or head to Ybor City and enjoy a cuban sandwich, smoke a cigar, see a drag show, and laugh until it hurts at the Improv. Whatever your fancy, gay-friendly Tampa has it all.

Ready to visit this gay-friendly destination? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together an in-depth gay Tampa travel guide with tips on where to stay, eat, and explore in Tampa.

Where to Stay in Tampa

There are dozens of places to stay in Tampa. From hotels to FabStayz vacation homes, the options are endless. I’ve highlighted a few gay-friendly places at which I’ve been hosted or have stayed during my trips to Tampa. Click here for a complete list on where to stay in the Tampa Bay Area. The key is to choose a destination central to everything you want to explore.

JW Tampa Marriott Water Street

510 Water St, Tampa, FL 33602

JW Marriott Tampa Water Street
JW Tampa Marriott Water Street. Photo by Rachel Covello

Brand new to Tampa and adjacent to the Tampa Convention Center, the JW Tampa Marriott Water Street hotel is a five-star luxury hotel in Downtown Tampa with spectacular waterfront views and an optimal location. If you’re looking for a classy stay in the most central area of the city, this is a must-experience property.

Customer service at the JW Marriott is top notch and hotel staff strive to make guests feel comfortable and right at home.

Spa by JW Marriott
Lounge Chairs in the Spa by JW Marriott. Photo by Rachel Covello

Designed to bring guests together, the JW Marriott offers multiple social spaces for cultivating new connections while unwinding after a busy day. Take a dip in the resort-style pool with sun terrace, relax at the JW Spa, grab a bite in the full-service restaurant, or sip and socialize in the atrium lobby lounge.

This hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, where you can tour landmarks of the city all at close range all via trolley, boat or car.

Tampa Marriott Water Street

505 Water St, Tampa, FL 33602

For a dog-friendly alternative (additional $150 pet fee required) stay at JW’s sister property, the Tampa Marriott Water Street. The two properties are next to one another and connect via a covered walkway. The Tampa Marriott Water Street also provides easy access to regional venues, restaurants, and transportation. Most amenities at the JW are also available to Marriott guests.

The Marriott offers all of the comforts needed without the added luxury. Room service and on-site dining options are available, along with drinks by the rooftop bar.

Health and wellness is also a priority with 35 guest rooms featuring Stay WellTM technology to optimize our guest’s physical and emotional well-being when traveling. 

Tampa Airport Marriott

4200 George J. Bean Parkway

If you need quick and easy access to the airport and a more budget-friendly option, stay at the Tampa Airport Marriott. While this hotel doesn’t provide the views and luxury that the JW offers, this modern Marriott hotel offers convenient transportation. Grab a great deal or bundle your flight and stay. The hotel also offers many amenities such as bright and spacious rooms, a fitness center, a pool, and the delicious Skye Bar & Grill.There is also a coffee shop and cafe onsite as well as concierge services.

Nearby are the International Mall, Busch Gardens, and even neighboring cities such as Clearwater and Tarpon Springs. For relaxing nature outings, check out Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park and the Florida Botanical Gardens. There’s a lot to do around this area, so make sure to take full advantage of your stay before flying home.

Hotel Haya Ybor City

1412 E 7th Ave Tampa, FL 33605

Hotel Haya Room
King Room at the Hotel Haya. Photo by Rachel Covello

The Hotel Haya is an LGBTQ-welcoming boutique hotel that celebrates the rebirth of Ybor City in all its glory. Carefully designed to resemble the original architecture of the city, this brand new property offers guests a comfortable and convenient stay in the center of Tampa. And several of the rooms provide incredible views of downtown Ybor.

This trendy hotel pays homage to the Cuban culture of the city with several restaurants, including a Cuban cafe. You can also purchase local cigars in the lobby. And the property is within walking distance to everything, so bring those walking shoes and get ready to explore. You won’t want to miss out on this eclectic town! 

Pro tip: Try the cafe con leche at Cafe Quiquiriqui! You won’t be disappointed!

Other Places to Stay in Tampa

Want other options? Visit our Where to Stay in the Tampa Bay Area travel guide, or search the Booking.com map below:

Booking.com

Where to Dine Out in Tampa

When visiting Tampa, get ready to dine out. Experience culinary greatness at several restaurants throughout the city. Whether you’re looking for something casual or something more upscale, the city has options to pleasure every palate. And don’t forget, when in Tampa, make sure to experience Cuban flavors!

Armature Works

1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602

Armature Works is one of Tampa’s most popular food halls and literally offers “the works.” This hot spot is a social epicenter of food and entertainment with cuisines for all palates. If you’re looking for tasty grub with to-go options so you can gather with friends inside or along the water, then head to the Heights Public Market. Here you can find a variety of Latin, Asian, American, and Greek cuisines. And don’t forget to try the homemade cookies and locally made craft ice cream at Bake n’ Babes and Astro Ice Cream Co.

Armature Works
Armature Works. Photo by Rachel Covello

Prefer a seated, more upscale option? Then check out Steelbach, Oak & Ola, M. Bird, or Stone’s Throw. Steelbach overlooks the beautiful Hillsborough River for an unforgettable dining experience. Oak & Ola is a place to gather where food and libations are thoughtfully sourced, hand crafted, and changed seasonally. M. Bird is a popular high-end rooftop bar with small plate options. And Stone’s Throw is a modern fast-casual pavilion serving fresh seafood, speciality cocktails, and front row views of the Hillsborough River.

Grab your food, drinks, and friends, and finish the night with a serene stroll down the riverwalk.

The Bricks

1327 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

The Bricks is an industrial eatery that serves casual yet extremely creative plates. Their menu consists of eclectic bites ranging from seafood appetizers to burgers to unique rice bowls. On Fridays and Saturdays, they are open till 1 AM and offer their delicious services as late-night indulgences. The Bricks also offers live music entertainment. They have a wide array of cocktails, wines, and beers, but also sell their own locally roasted coffee and sandwiches for a hearty breakfast or brunch in historic Ybor City.

The Columbia Restaurant

2117 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Located in the heart of Ybor City, The Columbia is the oldest restaurant in, not only Tampa, but the entire state of Florida. Originally founded in 1905 as a Cuban cafe and sandwich shop, today the menu has an extensive Cuban and Spanish menu including delicious tapas, classic cocktails, and popular desserts. Six days out of the week, Spanish flamenco dancers perform for the crowd in the gorgeous Siboney Room. Even if you’re not hungry, the architecture and decor are worth the visit. This iconic restaurant, that encompasses an entire city block, is an experience you won’t want to miss.

The restaurant chain is still family owned and the Columbia family of restaurants include Casa Santo Stefano, Cha Cha Coconuts, Ulele, Goody Goody and Café Con Leche Ybor City.

Pro Tip: Try the legendary Cuban sandwich which has been carried on for five generations.

Flames Indian Cuisine

2601 S MacDill Ave, Tampa, FL 33629

If you’re looking for authentic Indian cuisine with a charming ambiance, you’ve come to the right place. Flames is a popular restaurant located near downtown Tampa that offers an extensive menu of foods from several regions of India. As they love to say, their “spices will surprise you,” so be prepared to be overtaken by mouth-watering dishes and bold flavors you can only find here. Flames Indian Cuisine is also a Creative Loafing “Best of the Bay” winner.

Flor Fina at Hotel Haya

1412 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Hidden away inside Hotel Haya, a boutique hotel in historic Ybor City (and an OutCoast.com favorite), Flor Fina‘s renowned chef Douglas Rodriguez, combines Latin, American, and Mediterranean cuisines to create unforgettable flavors. You won’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

If you’re looking for a great lounge bar, don’t go anywhere. Flor Fina offers an extremely extensive drink menu along with delicious bar snacks. And brunch is on the menu every Sunday, so sleep in, grab a bite, then cruise around the city.

Pro Tip: Rodriguez has written several cookbooks and is known for his ceviche, so make this dish a top priority.

The Sail Plaza

333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Directly on the Riverwalk, come sit at this outdoor bar and take in the beautiful views of the Hillsborough River and downtown Tampa. Sail offers a variety of mixed cocktails that pair perfectly with the peaceful scenery. And at The Sail, Yappy Hour is all day long! Stop by with your furry friends to treat them to complimentary dog biscuits, puppy ice cream, and water bowls.

SIX at the JW Marriott

510 Water St, Tampa, FL 33602

Six Restaurant. Photo by Rachel Covello

Put on your business casual to fancy attire and head to SIX at the JW Marriott hotel. This ornate rooftop bar and restaurant offers upscale dining with breathtaking views of the Tampa skyline. Enjoy lunch or dinner with luxurious cocktails and enticing entrees. The ambiance here is contemporary and chic. It’s a classy and modern escape from the bustling city that you won’t want to miss.

Sparkman Wharf

615 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602

A trendy park that’s got it all! If you want to shop, dine, be entertained, work out, or just chill, check out Sparkman Wharf, a 65,000 square foot park in downtown Tampa overlooking the water. Sparkman Wharf is filled with food, fun, and entertainment.

It is even home to a bowling alley called Splitsville with southern food and hospitality.

Photo by Rachel Covello

The park hosts musicians and entertainers throughout the year, in addition to yoga. Check out their online event calendar. There are also plenty of food options, ranging from sit-down bars and restaurants with river views to hip food trucks offering tasty plates. Overall, there are options for just about everyone.

Ulele

1810 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602

On Tampa’s Riverwalk, Ulele is a fusion restaurant and brewery that combines traditional Floridian cuisine from the land and sea with Native American-inspired flavors and history. Ulele prides itself on offering fresh foods and drinks that are grown and cultivated by small and family-owned businesses. In fact, they sell their own craft beers, which are made at the Ulele Spring Brewery.

The restaurant offers a wide variety of options, including a multitude of seafood dishes and inspirations taken from Florida’s Native American cultures.

Owned by The Columbia Family of Restaurants, the thought and detail that went into the decor honors the rebirth of Tampa and Ybor City as important culinary and historic hubs within the state and across the country.

Pro Tip: Try the alligator hush puppies! They are addictive. I’m still crying after leaving my leftover hushpuppies in my hotel fridge.

Other Places to Dine in Tampa

For other places to eat in Tampa, check out our complete Tampa Bay dining out guide.

Where to Sip & Socialize in Tampa

There are hundreds of places you could go to all over the city, but we feel as though these are the ones you really won’t want to miss. Whether you’re looking for a delicious breakfast at a coffee shop, want to sip and dine at a brewery, or dance the night away at a club, these are some of the best spots to check out.

Breweries in Tampa

It’s safe to say that the brewery scene in Tampa is prolific. Although there are many more breweries than the ones listed here, this is just a quick list of some favorites. Be sure to try all sorts of unique drinks at these hip breweries to have a good time.

BarrieHaus Beer Co

1403 E 5th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

BarrieHaus Beer Co is a rustic microbrewery that considers itself the “Bearer of Good Brews,” (you’ll see a lot of punny phrases at this establishment). This is a family-owned business located in Ybor City that makes craft lagers and ales and has a long history of beer brewing heritage. They’re also known for their carryout-like menu, where you can order beers and have them brought to your house directly from the brewery.

The ambiance here is inviting and homey, which is something they’ve prided themselves on for the last 150 years. Their sense of humor is peculiar but extremely witty, which is one of the main reasons why when you walk in there, you feel like you’re amongst family. BarrieHaus invites their customers to kick back, relax, try some unique beers, and have a great time.

Cigar City Brewing

3924 W Spruce St, Tampa, FL 33607

If you’ve ever visited any supermarket in Florida, you’ve probably noticed the vibrant green and orange beer can box titled “Jai Alai.” If you have, you’ll be pleased to know that this famous brand was proudly founded in the heart of Tampa back in 2009. Of course, this is not the only beer Cigar City Brewing offers, but it is certainly one of the most popular. With award-winning flavors, Cigar City takes all that makes “Florida” Florida and crafts perfect formulas into citrusy and sunny ales. Still, they never forget to pay tribute to the historic flavors inspired by the tobacco industry in Ybor City. Cigar City offers a wide variety of beers for everyone’s particular taste and liking while offering trendy mixes such as hard seltzers, nitro brews, and more.

Visit their renowned taproom to samples several of their draft beer selections. The location is still the original foundation of the brewing company. Then head over to Spruce Street where you can take tours, purchase merchandise, and enjoy delicious Cuban American fusion food.

Coppertail Brewing

2601 E 2nd Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

If there is one brewery that is strictly dedicated to its craft, it’s Coppertail Brewing. They pride themselves in crafting beer the “right” way, using old-world and traditional production techniques. Although this process is certainly more tedious, it is worth it in the long run. With all-natural carbonation and non-filtered beer, the ales they offer are carefully crafted bombs of flavors.

Coppertail offers all kinds of different beers, from Pilsners to IPAs to Stouts. Check out their tasting room where you can sit and sip on your favorites and munch on some tasty food. From Thursday to Sunday, take a tour through their brewery to better understand their beer crafting philosophy. Don’t forget to bring your pets as they are pet friendly and allow them to bask in the chill environment of the outdoor patio.

CW’s Gin Joint

633 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Head to CW’s Gin Joint in downtown Tampa if you’re looking for a classy atmosphere to enjoy a carefully crafted menu of fine spirits. Carolyn Wilson, the owner, and designer of the joint has elevated this space to reminisce the old times; when one would head to a bar to sample a variety of classic drinks without the self-important atmosphere. It’s uppity but not pretentious and the ambiance is extremely laid-back but stylish. Whether you’re in the mood for cocktails or spirits, they have a multitude of options available to their valued customers. They also have a wide selection of delicious meals, from shareables for you and your party, to high-class entrees you won’t forget.

Hidden Springs Ale Works

1631 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Located in downtown Tampa, Hidden Springs Ale Works offers the fresh flavors of summer. Their locally brewed beers all have one thing in common, fruity deliciousness. If you enjoy refreshing and sweet flavors, then this is the spot for you. Some of their options are seasonal and are subject to change so make sure to check out their selection every so often to see what they have in store. They also offer guest taps and in-the-cooler, ready-to-go packs of beer that you can pre-order and have sent home. Enjoy your own small Florida paradise in a can.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

1600 E 8th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Tampa Bay Brewing Company is one with an environmental purpose. Since their primary focus is crafting beers for “the Florida lifestyle,” they are committed to giving back to preserve the natural habitats of our beautiful state. TBBC has two locations, one in Ybor City, and the other in Westchase, Tampa. In either of these locations, you’ll be pleased with the selection of ales offered. Each lager has a unique flavor profile.

Zydeco Brew Werks

1902 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Zydeco Brew Werks is a Cajun-inspired brewery that offers a vast selection of in-house brewed beers, craft cocktails, and delicious Southern dishes. Located in the heart of Ybor City, Zydeco brings the ambiance and flair of New Orleans to our beautiful city.

Redfish Po Boy. Photo by Rachel Covello

If you head over on the weekends, you’ll be met with live musical entertainment. Enjoy discovering new artists. If you want to spend a night watching your favorite sports team play while sipping some delicious ales, this is the spot for you. They even have special offers on game days that you truly won’t want to miss.

Coffee Shops in Tampa

For those who prefer coffee over beer, or enjoy starting their day off with a kick, then you’ll be happy to know that there are multiple options in Tampa, with these two at the top of our list.

Blind Tiger Cafe

If you’ve ever wanted to check out a speakeasy without the pressure of alcohol, this is the spot for you! Blind Tiger Cafe is a speakeasy-inspired coffee shop that is contemporary and industrial. They have various locations all around Tampa and they all offer deliciously crafted coffee that pays homage to the richness of the city.

Blind Tiger Cafe is not only a coffee shop but a lifestyle brand. Purchase their merch and their coffee with roasts and blends from around the world. Their menus offer classic coffees, specialty coffees, teas, breakfast sandwiches, and so much more. So if you’re looking for coffee to satisfy your cravings, stop by Blind Tiger Cafe to get your fill!

Buddy Brew Coffee

Buddy Brew Coffee is a specialty, family-owned coffee chain in Tampa, Florida. The founder Dave Ward and his wife Susan have a deep passion for coffee making and doing right by the coffee-growing community. They even offer a subscription service that allows patrons to pay a monthly fee to try all kinds of different coffee blends, beans, and brews for as low as $15. With the money from this subscription, you are also supporting an ethical coffee farming industry, including fair wages for coffee growers, female-owned and small-owned coffee businesses.

Buddy Brew Coffee has several locations all throughout the city and is extremely LGBTQ+ friendly. When you try their delicious in-house drinks, don’t forget to check out their extensive, global selection of coffee beans that you can purchase and take home with you. This will allow you to carry not only a part of Tampa home with you, but a sip of flavors from all over the world.

Bars and Clubs

If there is one word to describe the nightlife in Tampa, it’s underrated. Tampa and Ybor City respectively, offer amazing experiences and foster a beautiful culture of inclusivity. You will never feel unwanted because nearly all establishments are welcoming of everyone. Tampa nightlife offers a non-judgment experience where you’re encouraged to be your authentic self, all of the time! So let go of all your worries and come have fun at these trendy hot spots.

Bradley’s on 7th

1510 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

There’s always something fun to do at Bradley’s! Bradley’s is one of Ybor City’s most famous gay bars. Come on the weekends and you’ll get to experience the energetic drag races along with discounted drinks and special offers. Bradley’s is open every single day of the year and never has cover so you can always expect to have an amazing time. They also offer a large selection of all your favorite drinks so make sure to get your signature cocktail and head on over to the dance floor for a night you won’t forget.

The Castle

2004 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605

The Castle is one of Ybor City’s most popular dance clubs. This club has a very gothic and alternative aesthetic, and it strives to be the place that “you always want to visit”. This has certainly proven true since the club’s opening in 1992. Originally, it began as a small saloon offering classic drinks but has since escalated to one of the major party scenes in the city. The Castle always puts on great events and hosts them often, so there is always an opportunity for fun. Therefore, go celebrate your weirdness at this cool spot in Ybor City and enjoy the riveting energy at The Castle. While it’s not an LGBTQ club specifically, it’s definitely one of the most accepting and inclusive spots in town.

Coyote Ugly Saloon

Aguilar Building, 1722 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Either you know this establishment by its chains all throughout the nation or by the Coyote Ugly movie from the early 2000s. Either way, Coyote Ugly Saloon is a traditional bar with a Southern attitude. It’s definitely not a gay bar, but it’s always welcoming. During Tampa Pride, the place is packed. The Saloon guarantees a fun time and the “Coyotes” will make you feel welcomed and entertained with their renowned dancing. Coyote Ugly offers daily drink specials, so sip, savor and have fun!

First Chance Last Chance Bar & Courtyard

1707 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605

Located in the Historic District of Ybor City, First Chance Last Chance is a rustic bar with a laid-back vibe. Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s boring… in fact, that’s quite the opposite. The bar still has amazing live music, delicious drinks, and a moody atmosphere that you’ll fall in love with. First Chance Last Chance prides itself on being a welcoming space for people from all walks of life. They have happy hour all-night-long daily and offer specialty seasonal cocktails as well as locally crafted beers with popular flavors. Check out this gorgeous bar for a more chill encounter with Tampa nightlife.

Southern Nights TAMPA

1401 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Southern Nights is a gay nightclub that exudes a big party atmosphere with dynamic live music and entertainment. Inspired by LGBT ballroom culture, they host Social Saturdays with some of the most famous drag queens of our time. During Pride Month the club offers customers amazing deals and specials on drinks and shows. Make sure to stop by to experience the vibrant, accepting, and energetic environment you crave.

Tangra Nightclub

1611 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Tangra is an upscale nightclub that exhibits a classy vibe. With a three-story, luxury-designed space, Tangra has risen as one of Ybor City’s most prominent nightclubs. Dress to impress when you visit this spot on 7th Ave to show off on the dance floor. Experience artful cocktail making from the bartenders and bask in the grandiose architecture of the space. The venue is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation that will feature pieces & furnishings made exclusively for Tangra Nightclub by European artists, architects and craftsmen. A night out at Tangra is a nocturnal adventure that’ll fulfill your most resplendent dreams.

Other Places to Sip & Socailize in Tampa

Visit our full guides to Florida’s LGBTQ nightlife covering each region of the state, including Tampa, and Tampa’s LGBTQ entertainment.

Things to Do in Tampa

Now that you know where to stay and where to dine, it’s time to get out and create amazing memories throughout the city. This is a city of adventure. Tampa is conveniently located in the Bay Area, which means that you can get to its beautiful neighboring cities with ease. Whether you’d like to cruise the historic areas of the city or ride around on the water, Tampa offers many options. These are some of our favorite things to do in Tampa, and we’re sure they’ll soon become some of your favorites too.

Experience Arts and Culture

There is no shortage of arts and culture in Tampa. In the mood for museums or theatre? You’ve come to the right city! Take in the arts at the The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and the Tampa Museum of Arts. Entertain the kiddos at the Glazer Children’s Museum.

Straz Theatre at Night. Photo by Rachel Covello

Grab a broadway show at the Straz Theatre. Stroll along the riverwalk to appreciate the sculptures and architecture along the Hillsborough River. And if you need more museums to experience, head across the bay to downtown St Pete for glass museums, the Dali Museum, Western art, and the a museum of fine arts.

Ride the Cross Bay Ferry to St. Petersburg

While visiting Tampa, take a day trip to St. Petersburg, on the other side of Tampa Bay. St. Pete is a gorgeous city with a lot to offer. Go to the beach, dine at several downtown restaurants, or shop along Central Avenue. To make for easy travel, book a ticket with the Cross Bay Ferry and bask in the scenery of the bay.

Tickets range between $10 to $20 for adults, depending on whether it’s a one-way or round trip. The ferry itself is a large boat with both indoor and outdoor seating. The ferry also has a small indoor bar serving water, soft drinks, and juices, as well as beers, wines, and cocktails for passengers 21 and older.

Feel free to check out our complete St. Pete Gay Travel Guide to ensure that you don’t miss a thing!

Smoke a Cigar in Ybor City

Tradition is the mission in Cigar City, and this is certainly for good reason. Find a large selection of cigar shops throughout Ybor City. These cigar factories have an extremely rich history. Without them, Tampa would not be what it is today. Some of the most popular locations you can check out are Tabanero Cigars, Ybor Cigars Plus, and La Faraona Cigars, amongst others. All of these shops offer locally crafted, hand-rolled cigars created in artful and traditional ways.

Snap a Selfie at Snap House

1318 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605

Why spend thousands of dollars on travel expenses to get one good Instagram picture when you can snap dozens in one spot at Snap House? For only $25 you can fill your Instagram feed with professional looking pics.

Bring a change of clothes, your camera, and a friend to snap the trendiest pictures at this unique photography studio. Ring lights are provided, as are props, but feel free to bring your own. The studio has 23 separate “rooms” all decorated with quirky backgrounds and cool props for the most like-worthy pictures!

Pro Tip: All people in a party are charged the full $25, so just a head’s up in case you bring your own photographer who doesn’t need pics themself.

Tour the J.C. Newman Cigar Company Museum

2701 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605

The J.C. Newman Cigar Company Museum is a must-go when you’re in Tampa if you want to dive deep into the cigar history of the city. Cigar trading is what put Tampa on the map in 1845, and it is still a major part of the city’s culture today. J.C. Newsman is also the last operating cigar factory in the city and still exists within the original foundation. Also called El Reloj, meaning ‘The Clock’ in Spanish, the building is an iconic and easily recognizable landmark in Ybor City. 

Book tours in this beautiful building and take a step back in time to explore the significance of cigars to the city as well as learn how cigar-making is actually done. Once you’ve wrapped up your tour, head to their famous Diamond Crown Lounge and try their globally recognized cigars. You can also purchase J.C. Newman cigars in multiple locations throughout the city to take an enigmatic piece of Tampa home with you, including The Hotel Haya.

Take a Water Taxi along the Riverwalk

333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

If you don’t want to go as far as St. Petersburg, there’s also the option of Tampa’s very own Pirate Water Taxis down the scenic Riverwalk. Enjoy casual conversation as you ride along the Hillsborough River with a view of Tampa’s most iconic hang-out spots.

Once you buy a ticket, you will be given a wristband that allows you to get on and off at 14 different locations. The route of the taxi stops at various restaurants, attractions, and museums throughout Downtown Tampa. Make sure you don’t lose your wristband as it permits unlimited rides all day! The wristband also rewards you through the Pirate Perks Program with several discounts and coupons along the spots on the route.

Visit The Florida Aquarium

701 Channelside Drive Tampa, Florida 33602

The Florida Aquarium is located in Downtown Tampa and is ranked one of the top ten aquariums in the nation. They have plenty of fun activities, such as wild dolphin cruises and even VIP passes for behind-the-scenes penguin viewing.

The Florida Aquarium values our planet and understands the importance of taking care of it. They have several conservation programs, in which they focus on researching, protecting, and rescuing marine life. The aquarium hosts many events that connect creativity with education. For example, they partnered with the NFL to create a green exhibit called Conservation Inspiration through Art, which showcases art made from waste collected in the ocean. Their efforts and activism are truly felt in the Tampa community.

Pro Tip: If you visit the turtle tank during the spring, you may see more than you bargained for. It’s mating season at the Florida Aquarium!

Zip Line at Empower Adventures

23 Lafayette Blvd, Oldsmar, FL 34677

If you’re looking for a thrill, check out Empower Adventures for an exhilarating zip-lining experience. The views will take your breath away as you zip over treetops and water preserves.

Photo by Rachel Covello

They also have the option of sunset zip line tours, where you can enjoy the gorgeous Florida sunsets as you take in the views of Tampa Bay. Prices range between $74 and $79 for 1.5 to 2-hour tours with 11 unique zip-lining adventures. You can take a group or your family and spend a day in this beautiful preserve.

Pro Tip: The course includes obstacle courses. You can go at your own pace or skip the activities you prefer to omit from your experience. But zip lining is required, so be prepared to hang on and let go.

Other things to do in Tampa

For a more in depth guide to the Tampa Bay region, click here.

Plan your Trip to Gay Tampa

We’ve given you the skinny on gay Tampa. Now it’s time to come to Tampa and make the most out of this beautiful city. Tampa is currently on the rise and you really won’t want to miss everything it has to offer. Plan your stay for your next gay Florida travel adventure! 


***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful). 

Written by Rachel Covello

Rachel Covello is an award-winning speaker, writer, diversity consultant, and LGBT advocate. She is the Founder of LGBT Equality Alliance, a Chester County, PA nonprofit organization, and CEO of OUTCOAST, an online marketing and concierge platform marketing the Gulf Coast as an LGBTQ-inclusive place to VISIT, CELEBRATE, and LIVE.

Rachel is also an avid event photographer and has captured photos for LGBT organizations around the world, including the IGLTA, NGLCC, NLGJA, and Out & Equal.


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