Nothing says Florida like swaying palms, chic cocktails and dancing ’til dawn. You can find all of this in two of Tampa’s main entertainment districts: Ybor City and Soho. Whether it’s DJs and light shows you’re craving or a down and dirty rock venue, we’ve scoured the city to find the best options for you.
Bar, Nightclub, American, $$$
The Castle, Tampa | @ Diann Corbett Johnson
The Castle has been in business over 25 years and started out life as a cigar industry hangout. The building’s unique architecture lent itself to the castle goth theme and the club was opened as a saloon in 1992. As Ybor City became known for nightlife in the 1990s, the Castle honed its image and is hopping to this day. There are five main areas to choose from—the saloon, main hall, tower, courtyard and dungeon—offering a variety of settings from intimate to open. The club is world-renowned and the staff are like family, some of whom have been there for more than 20 years.
Club Prana in Ybor City offers five stories of fun with different style and music by floor: the lounge, the mezzanine, the sanctuary, the night club and the skybar. It was started in 2000 and is often ranked as the number one club in Tampa. The higher floors are considered the best and there is a rooftop seating area overlooking downtown Tampa. The club offers top-notch lights and sound, VIP experience and bottle service.
Set in South Tampa’s Soho district, the Kennedy offers both indoor and outdoor areas to play along with VIP bottle service. Club-goers like the outdoor VIP section known the Ivy as it is not hidden away from view. For a feel of the stylish indoor decor, think red, black, gold with posh velvet. The stage and sound systems have been recently upgraded. People such as Lady Gaga have been known to drop by and the club has featured other high-profile acts including Sasha and LMFAO.
Cabana Room, Hyde Park Cafe, Tampa | @ Hyde Park Cafe
Set in Soho in South Tampa, Hyde Park Cafe is owned by the same owners of the Kennedy Soho. The club is made up of three distinct spaces. Velociti is the primary dance area, Wally & Bernie’s is another, and there is also a more relaxed area called Cafe Courtyard. The newest VIP section is known as the Cabana Club, offering a private VIP experience.
The Ritz Ybor is more a venue than a club but it does host the hottest electronic music acts in the area and offers three distinct rooms and bars to relax in. The building was built in 1917 and is a nationally-registered historic place. Opened in 2008, the main area is 17,000 square feet and is home to the Amphitheater Ybor, an event facility. Some of the bigger known acts to have appeared there include Tiesto, Owl City and Krewella.
The Honey Pot is a popular gay club in Ybor City offering sexy clientele and exuberant dancing, with DJ and drag shows. Regular events include pre and post-Pride parade parties, Gasparilla galas and holiday celebrations. There is a downstairs dance floor, an upstairs area and an outdoor balcony that overlooks 7th Avenue.
Located on 8th Ave, Club Skye is another Ybor City club. Opened in 1996, it started out as a rock venue, moved to dance and now plays primarily hip-hop. At Club Skye there are two levels, three rooms and a VIP area on the balcony overlooking the action. There is also a private champagne room. The stage is centrally located so there are good views from every area.
Another long-standing Ybor City venue, this club mixes it up with hip-hop on Ol Dirty Sundays in the courtyard. Wednesday nights are a mix of offerings from new wave on Bike Night or DaCypher events in the laid-back beer garden. The club books bands of all kinds for live music on every night of the week. A small venue, it allows for intimate concerts with close-up views.