But Tampa has plenty to offer lesbian and gay travelers: A boomtown throughout the s, Tampa has grown into a sophisticated, prosperous, and modern metropolis. This city of about , has a large gay community. Petersburg and the beach communities, about an hour west of Tampa, make a nice day trip. Downtown Tampa, especially around the waterfront, has seen a dramatic renaissance recently. Much of the action is centered around Channelside at Garrison Seaport Center, which contains cinemas, restaurants, upscale shops, and nightclubs.
Another fairly new development has been the introduction of an electric-streetcar system, which runs among downtown attractions and out to Ybor City. A growing number of yuppies — along with plenty of guppies — populate South Tampa. Much of the retail and dining action is centered around one former factory, Ybor Square. More rides await you at nearby Adventure Island, a acre water park, which is also run by the Anheuser-Busch group combo tickets are available.
Also above downtown, the Lowry Park Zoo is one of the best zoos in the Southeast; of particular note is the manatee and aquatic center. Wild game, such as rabbit, elk, and ostrich, are specialties.
A bona fide tourist attraction, The Columbia is not exactly intimate, but elaborate mosaic murals do impart plenty of character. Also in Ybor City, trendy Dish uses an innovative concept: A minute drive south of downtown leads to trendy Cellini, an Italian restaurant with superb pasta and pizzas.
Snazzy Mise en Place is known for cutting-edge contemporary American fare, such as lavender-rubbed grilled salmon with American sturgeon caviar, wild basmati rice, green-lentil pilaf, and fennel-orange salad. Metropolis, which presents go-go dancers nightly and cultivates a cruisy, somewhat stand-and-model following, is one of the hottest full-time gay bars in the region. Nearby, the pulsing Castle nightclub is gayest on Mondays and Thursdays. Tunnel is a Friday-night fete at a huge disco The Underground on the southern fringes of Downtown with a high-tech industrial ambience.
A trip to the john can be a true adventure at this super-cruisy place. Ki Ki Ki Lounge, with strings of blinking lights and retro furnishings, is a long-running queer cocktail lounge. Offering a year-round outdoor pool and sun terrace, the Flamingo Resort is an all-gay resort situated in St. Petersburg — just a 30 minute drive from Tampa. Guests can enjoy 6 themed bars, a dance club, and restaurant. Petersburg and offers a tropical stay for the LGBT community. Friends traveling together appreciate this all-suites property near the airport and Tampa Bay.
All rooms have kitchenettes, and the health club is top-notch. La Quinta Inn is a fine budget option. This cheerfully decorated and efficiently run motel is east of Ybor City, not more than a minute drive from South Tampa nightlife and dining. The location on the western edge of the city is quiet and secluded. Rooms are sumptuous with pastel hues and balconies, many of them looking directly over Tampa Bay and a neighboring acre nature preserve.