Why Queer Travelers Need to Try Tampa

Tampa has been slowly separating itself from other Florida destinations and here's why LQBTQ travelers will love it.

© Travalliancemedia Owned Media (Staff Photo) PHOTO: Bradley’s on 7th in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Paul Heney)

By Paul Heney, TravelPulse

Tampa has been slowly positioning itself as an urban destination over the past few years, separating itself from other Florida getaways that focus on beaches, families or theme parks. The downtown area is a great warm weather getaway for queer couples, with a dynamic mix of attractions and a burgeoning food scene that is sure to impress.

Here are four things we think LGBTQ travelers will love about Tampa:

Armature Works. One of the coolest developments in the city, Armature Works was once a streetcar warehouse, used as a repair and storage facility for the Tampa Electric Street and Railway Company. The 1910 structure was later purchased by a phosphate machinery manufacturer.

Today, it’s been redeveloped and is the heart of the Heights neighborhood. The building features 73,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space, including the Heights Public Market, multiple event spaces, a co-shared workspace, and multiple restaurants and bars.

Make dinner reservations at Steelbach, and you’ll be considering eating a second meal there before you leave town. After Steelback, stop at Cru Cellars—a lovely sommelier-driven Wine Bar & Kitchen that allows you to wind down and people watch.

The downtown district. With Tampa’s famed sunny weather, it’s silly to focus too much on driving. The downtown area makes walking (or biking!) easy with the convenient Riverwalk, which winds for 2.4 miles through the city.

What’s more, it connects multiple visitor attractions, including the Tampa Art Museum, Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Bay History Center, Amalie Arena (home of the NHL’s Lightning), Florida Aquarium, and more. The rapidly growing Waterstreet district, anchored by the Tampa Marriott Waterside & Marina, made for a nice home base.

Ybor City. This lovely neighborhood is located only about a mile northeast of downtown Tampa—yet feels a world away. Ybor is a historic district with beautiful architecture and brick streets, once home to most of the country’s cigar factories.

Today, the laid-back vibe, walkable streets, great restaurants, quaint plazas and multitude of shops combine with a queer-friendly attitude that will make all visitors want to return time and again. The area is thick with Cuban heritage, and you should make sure to try a Cuban sandwich at the famed Columbia Restaurant or the La Segunda Central Bakery.

A fun variety of nightclubs. With many cities seeing gay bars disappear, it was nice to see multiple options within a short distance of each other in Tampa’s Ybor City district.

Stop at Hamburger Mary’s for diner style food and a fun drag show most any evening, including the ever-popular Drag Queen Bingo events.

Bradley’s on 7th has a nice mix of people, and a somewhat mystifying collection of enormous trees throughout the front portion, where blue lights illuminate the bar. Pass the young muscle-bound guys playing pool and head toward the back bar, which is smoky and features a stage and go-go boys. We found more gay couples hanging out here.

Southern Nights had a quieter, homey vibe, and we loved the enormous mural on the wall, which featured pop music icons. The very long bar featured TVs showing MTV music videos, and three pool tables were the main focus of the front room. On Saturdays, you’re more likely to find the crowd four people deep watching the midnight drag shows. This bar had a recent grand re-opening on July 21st.

Honey Pot seemed to attract a younger crowd interested in dancing, and a nice mix of men and women. Expect a long line to get in and a cover charge on weekends.


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Travel News: Why Queer Travelers Need to Try Tampa
Why Queer Travelers Need to Try Tampa
Tampa has been slowly separating itself from other Florida destinations and here's why LQBTQ travelers will love it.
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