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Gay Friendly Tampa / St. Petersburg

When travelers think of the ideal location, their fantasies frequently include a combination of relaxation and entertainment, with lazy days spent lounging on the beach and soaking up perfect weather and active nights out with friends or maybe even meeting someone new on the dance floors of a night club. The Tampa / St. Petersburg area lives up to this ideal, offering nearly year-round sunshine in close proximity to beaches and a bubbly gay nightlife. Unlike many cities, this area does not have a single neighborhood or two in which most of gay life is concentrated; instead the entire area is generally gay-friendly. However, there are some locations which are preferred by numerous gay travelers.

To place yourself in the midst of the gay action in the Tampa / St. Petersburg area, you will most likely want to spend significant amounts of time in South Tampa and Central St. Petersburg. Other areas where gay businesses, residences and shopping seem to be easily found include "The Heights" (Riverside Heights, Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights) near downtown Tampa, the Tampa suburb of Carrollwood, Historic Kenwood in St. Petersburg, and Gulfport artists' community along the water. Generally speaking, younger travelers tend to prefer the neighborhoods of Tampa while older travelers, particularly those traveling as couples, prefer St. Petersburg, but of course this preference depends greatly upon what you are seeking from your vacation.

A trip to the Tampa / St. Petersburg area can truly mean very different things for different people. For some, it's an experience of immersion in the arts, with everything from traditional theatre venues to experimental arts communities providing continual stimulation for the senses. For others, Tampa is a place for enjoying the beaches by day and the bars by night. For others, shopping is the main motivation for a trip to the area, and the presence of a gay shopping mall only fuels that fire for spending. Still others are in the area on business, or are merely taking a day trip from a more extensive stay in nearby Orlando, and have only a little bit of time to see all that there is to see in the area.

Annual events which draw people to the Tampa / St. Petersburg area take place all throughout the year beginning in January with the Gasparilla Day Parade kicking off a month of different events throughout the city. Events include a pirate parade, fireworks, an arts festival, gymnastics competitions and parties galore. The gay times hit their peak the first weekend of July when the city celebrates Pride Weekend which includes a Wet Party at the Florida Aquarium. Other notable annual events in the area include the annual GLBT film festival which is the sixth largest of its kind in the entire world and Guavaween which is the area's huge Halloween extravaganza.

Tampa / St. Petersburg is an untapped well from which gay travelers should consider drinking. It offers a bit of something for everyone in an environment which is willing to welcome in all kinds of people without so much as a second glance. Beautiful bodies sunbathe on beaches and shake their stuff on local dance floors in this city which has shopping, arts, culture, dining and activities galore.


Where to Stay - Gay Friendly Hotels in Tampa / St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay area offers accommodations of all kinds to meet the preferences and budgets of gay travelers from all across the world. The business traveler will find convenient gay-friendly locations in almost any neighborhood where business may need to be conducted, offering convenience and office amenities of top-shelf nature. The beach bum will find that there are plenty of places to stay which offer play near the water and proximity to the area's nightlife. And those travelers who expect to find superior service awaiting their every command will not be disappointed by the resorts and luxury hotels of the Tampa / St. Petersburg area.

If you want to take yourself to gay heaven during your trip to the Tampa / St. Petersburg area, make sure that you make reservations at the Suncoast Resort, an all-gay resort which provides every single thing that you might want from your Florida vacation offered under the tagline that they have "hot days and hotter nights". The resort features 5 bars, various fitness and sports amenities, a leather bar and shop, live theater and a gay mall. The only problem with this place is that you might find that you don't see any thing else in Tampa Bay because you have no reason to leave the grounds of your hotel.

Resorts are often a terrific place for couples, but what would be a good place for the solo traveler who is interested in meeting some new people during a stay in Tampa Bay? Gram's Place is a great place to start. This hostel-style lodge which has live music, a BYOB outdoor pub, and an outdoor Jacuzzi is highly conducive to connecting with other travelers but also has some private rooms in the event that you find someone you want to, ahem, connect further with.

Bed-and-breakfasts are popular all throughout the Tampa Bay area, in large part because they offer the kind of luxury that one might be seeking during a vacation to the ocean. Interestingly, only one of these locations (Dickens House) is currently gay-owned-and-operated but there are plenty of gay-friendly options including Mansion House Bed and Breakfast, Boca Ciega and Frog Pond.

Not all travelers are cut out for bed-and-breakfast style luxury; some of us prefer the cutting-edge of big name hotels. Tampa Bay keeps its promise to meet the needs of all travelers by offering such gay-friendly accommodations as the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel, the Terrace Park Suites and the Residence Inn Tampa Downtown. These spots are perfect for business travelers.

Whether you are flying solo on business or pleasure or you're traveling to Tampa / St. Petersburg with friends, family or that special someone, there are accommodations which are designed to be gay-friendly without being over-the-top. Of course, there are over-the-top spots too since we all know that some of us like to have a scene no matter where we travel!


What to See and Do in Gay Friendly Tampa

During the day, one of the biggest draws to Tampa / St. Petersburg is the beach. There are numerous beaches in the area where swimming and surfing can be enjoyed, but there are two beaches which are of particular interest to the gay traveler. The first is the gay beach, which is located at the southern end of St. Petersburg in the Ft. DeSoto Park. To reach the area, travelers should follow the signs to North Beach and then, appropriately, cross the "Rainbow Bridge" to the gay beach. Travelers who are interested in the history of the area can get two birds taken care of with one stone by enjoying Bedrocks, the original home of Tampa / St. Petersburg's gay beach. Although it is now just an average beach, it was once home to the area's largest gay beach bar and remains a spot where travelers stop to enjoy the scenery.

In addition to the beaches, daytime activities in the area include a number of unique activities. Popular tourist attractions in Tampa are the Florida Aquarium, the Skatepark of Tampa, the Tampa Union Station historic railroad, and Busch Gardens. Popular tourist attractions in St. Petersburg are the Sunken Gardens, the St. Petersburg Pier and the downtown shopping areas. Just outside of the Tampa Bay area is the popular visitor spot of Ybor City which is worth exploring not only because it is a National Historic Landmark but also because it is where much of the nightlife of the area is concentrated.

One of the big draws to the area of Tampa Bay is its cultural diversity and appreciation of the arts of various cultures. To experience some of this, check out west Tampa which is home to a huge population of Cuban and Spanish locals. In St. Petersburg, visit the Holocaust Museum and the Salvador Dali Museum; in Tampa be sure to check out the Channelside arts district and the Tampa Museum of Art; in Ybor City make a stop at the Cigar Museum and Visitors Center. At night, take advantage of the culture of the area with attention to its vibrant theatre and music scene. There are numerous live theatre groups located in Tampa, St. Petersburg and the surrounding area.

Vacations are meant to be relaxing and you should cater your Tampa Bay activities to what best suits your travel style. However, be sure to try to include a combination of cultural pursuits, exploration of the cities several gay-dominant areas and enjoyment of the beautiful beaches to get a well-rounded trip from your time in the area.


Dining in Gay Friendly Tampa / St. Petersburg

There are so many pockets of gay community throughout the Tampa / St. Petersburg area that it may seem almost overwhelming to try and find a spot for dining which isn't gay-friendly. However, certain neighborhoods are better than others for getting a true gay-friendly dining experience along with great food.

In Tampa, South Tampa is the best place to concentrate your gay restaurant search efforts. To narrow down the options, look specifically on South Howard Street, where a strip of restaurants is sure to give you something to gnaw on. Bella's Italian Cafe, Bern's Steak House, Mangroves, St. Bart's Island House and Seven One Seven South are just a few of the places where travelers can comfortably settle in for delicious dining in this area. Another Tampa favorite is Tropics which features exotic foods such as rabbit and ostrich to test the adventurer in everyone.

In St. Petersburg, the Grand Central District is a good bet for gay dining, with most such restaurants concentrated in the Historic Kenwood area and on the streets between Fifth Avenues North and South. Top picks in this location include the Ballet Cafe, Central Thyme, Gillie's, and Georgie's Alibi. The gay-owned Roman Gardens Ristorante and Pizzeria is a popular brunch spot which also features lunch and dinner options for St. Petersburg guests.

For travelers interested in getting the full tourist experience during their time in Tampa Bay, the place to go is Ybor City's Columbia restaurant which features eleven different dining rooms, live entertainment, on-site shopping and an extensive Spanish-flavored menu. This place also offers diners a bit of historical exploration in to the Tampa Bay area since it has been a part of the city's restaurant scene since 1905, making it the oldest restaurant in the region.

Enjoy outdoor patio options at numerous locations in the area to best take advantage of the Florida sun. Better yet, get a view of the water from the balconies of some Tampa Bay restaurants. No matter which city of the Tampa Bay area you are spending time in, gay-friendly dining options abound.

For a complete list of our favorite gay friendly restaurants in Tampa / St. Petersburg, click on the "Restaurants Tab" on the City Directory found on the left side of this page.

Christopher Street Bar

13344 66th Street - Tampa, FL - 727-538-0660

Not seeing enough skin on the beach? Head to Christopher Street Bar for sexy male strippers... Stiff drinks, fun bartenders and dancing as well!
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Backroom Bar

14601 Gulf Blvd. - Tampa, FL - 727-392-2814

Hang out at the beach - and have a cocktail.. Backroom Bar is popular with the beach boys - and is located in the Tampa suburb of Madeira Beach.
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Baxter's Lounge

1519 S. Dale Mabry Highway - Tampa, FL - 813-258-8830

Sexy Dancers Wednesday- Saturday nights! 2-4-1 Well drinks daily from noon til 8pm! Karaoke nights too!
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Detour

2612 Central Avenue - Tampa, FL - 727-327-8204

Formerly Grand Central Station - Detour has gone through a complete renovation and is home to a Sunday T Dance, a Karaoke night, and great drink specials.
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Reader Reviews
Bars / Nightlife

Keith's Bar


Hasn't been called Keith's for nearly 2 years now. Bar sold and renamed Body Shop
By: Randy on April 20, 2012

Georgie's Alibi


This place is always packed. Especially weekends. Always a good time.
By: Ryan on February 22, 2010

Detour


The drinks are cheap and stiff - just like the gogos
By: Randy on February 22, 2010

City Side Lounge


I go to City Side with friends on occassion - and the bar is ok -but some of the guys have such big attitudes.
By: Danny on February 22, 2010
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