The 5 best gay bars in Tampa

The 5 best gay bars in Tampa

Think of a gaycation to Florida and chances are beloved gay destinations like Miami, Key West, and Fort Lauderdale all quickly come to mind. While we certainly love these sexy, sunny locales, don’t overlook a relative newcomer to the gay Florida scene: Tampa. With its revitalized Riverwalk, scenic Gulf location and world-class amenities, a visit to Tampa promises all the highlights of sizzling subtropical Florida—but in a more affordable, up-and-coming setting. Gay Tampa centres around the hip and happening GaYbor, or Ybor City, where you’ll discover Tampa’s hottest bars and nightclubs, vintage boutiques and LGBTQ-owned businesses. Start discovering the gay Tampa nightlife scene with our guide to the five best gay bars in Tampa right now.

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With goings-on, every night of the week and a convenient location in the heart of gay Ybor City, Bradley’s on 7th is always a smart idea

Photo: Eric Deeran

Photo: Eric Deeran

Bradley's on 7th

With goings-on, every night of the week and a convenient location in the heart of gay Ybor City, Bradley’s on 7th is always a smart idea. The space is dimly lit yet colourful, with lofty, realistic looking tree trunks extending from the bar to the ceiling. Daily Happy Hour brings 2-4-1 drink specials and with it a convivial crowd of locals. Don’t miss Thursday evenings when this gay Tampa bar hosts a seriously fun amateur strip contest. Joining in the debauchery is always supported, primarily when creative strip moves are powered by liquid courage. On the weekend, you’ll find renowned DJs, sexy dancers, and on-point drag shows. More than an entertainment venue, this always happening gay bar also boasts a robust drink menu with strong, well-crafted cocktails. Friendly bartenders have a knack for remembering names and orders, even on busy evenings. Bradley’s on 7th is open Monday – Friday from 4 pm until 3 am; Saturdays from 2:30 pm until 3 am; Sundays from noon until 3am.

Photo: Jonathon Dorofy

Photo: Jonathon Dorofy

Photo: Chris Murray

Photo: Chris Murray

The Honey Pot

For one of the most happening gay clubs in Tampa, look no further than The Honey Pot. This high-energy gay Tampa club has one of the city’s most expansive dance floors, a steamy space bathed in neon lights, and brimming with sexy locals. Let loose to live DJs, then retreat to the chic balcony space to refresh and rehydrate. Steam Fridays mean insanely popular drag shows by world-class divas, while unique happenings regularly dot the events calendar for Saturdays. Drinks are inexpensive yet not of the watered-down sort, and bartenders are sociable even on a thrumming night. Don’t be put off by the snaking line out the front door—this is one of the hottest gay clubs in Tampa, after all, and the vibrant LGBTQ scene inside is well worth the short wait. The Honey Pot is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 pm until 3 am; $5 cash cover charge.

Enigma

Okay, technically speaking, Enigma is located across the bridge in downtown St. Petersburg. But with its cosy dance floor, upscale ambience and chic sidewalk tables, no list of gay bars in Tampa would be complete without a shout out to this welcoming gay lounge. Enigma is the brainchild of Ed Gonzalez, formerly of the ever-beloved Georgie’s Alibi. It’s perhaps thanks to this heralded industry experience that, upon opening, Enigma was an immediate success—and continues to attract a throng of stylish and sexy customers today. Karaoke nights, guest DJs, and drag shows populate the events calendar, promising something to do most any night of the week. Prefer a laid-back pint to a pulsating late-night club? With its al-fresco seating and bright, airy feel, Enigma is just as enjoyable at 2 pm as it is at 2 am. You’ll find Enigma in the vibrant EDGE district, an eclectic area dotted with locally-owned businesses, swanky boutiques, and small painting studios. It’s a lovely area to stroll about for a bit before continuing your exploration of the best Tampa gay bars. Enigma is open daily from noon until 3 am.

Enigma

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Reservoir Bar

Self-dubbed as the “finest Hole in the Wall” in Ybor City, Reservoir Bar is a no-frills dive bar ideal for a laid-back evening of pool, darts, and alcohol. The vibe is ultra-relaxed without ever skewing towards sloppy. Think dark lighting, walls dripping in movie memorabilia, and a clean, albeit graffiti-laden, bathroom. The crowd is diverse and comprised mainly of fun-loving locals after a care-free evening. In general, Reservoir Bar makes an ideal outpost for striking up conversations with interesting Tampanians, or just generally people watching. Amicable bartenders serve up some seriously boozy cocktails, but you’ll also find an extensive offering of specialty beers at reasonable prices. Happy Hour goes strong each day until 7pm, while weekends bring with it $4 Bloody Marys and rotating drink specials. It’s worth noting that smoking is still allowed inside this dive bar. Doors are open every day from noon until 2:30am.

The Castle

While not technically a gay bar in Tampa, The Castle is a gay-popular, alternative dance club in the heart of gay Ybor City. Aptly named, this multi-level Tampa club boasts three separate music areas, each of which is perfectly moody: the dungeon bar, the saloon, and the courtyard area. The Castle attracts a fiercely loyal following of diverse clientele, but it is especially popular with “Goths” looking to sway to Industrial Dance music in a seductive and mysterious setting. Events range from Steampunk nights to royal masquerades to trance parties (and costumes are always encouraged), so check the events calendar in advance to ensure the evening’s theme caters to your interests. The alternative crowd is fun-loving and non-judgemental, so this is a unique spot that any open-minded individuals can enjoy—gay, Goth, or otherwise. Creative cocktails match the eccentric atmosphere, and professional barkeep (many of whom have worked at The Castle for a decade or more) can mix up just about anything you like. The Castle is only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30pm until 3am.

Photo: Ivana Cajina

Photo: Ivana Cajina

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