Gay Vacations in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida

View of skyline and downtown Tampa, Florida, at night
Tampa's skyline (Guy Vanderelst/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty)

Tampa/St. Petersburg Highlights

  • Watch for high and low seasons. Unlike Miami and Fort Lauderdale, which are becoming more year-round destinations, winter and spring are high season in the Tampa area, with a lot more tourist traffic than other times of the year.
  • Flying into Tampa may be easier than St. Petersburg. St. Pete's airport only serves seven minor airlines, while Tampa's airport serves 19 major airlines.
  • Rent a car. It will be a lot easier for you to explore the neighboring cities as well as the area's beaches.

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Less pretentious than Miami, Tampa and nearby St. Petersburg are popular with queer tourists and residents alike. Along with family-oriented attractions like the Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island (Busch Gardens' water-park cousin), the area is home to the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida International Museum, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. And St. Pete's Salvador Dalí Museum has the largest collection of the surrealist's paintings outside of Spain.

The most interesting neighborhoods in Tampa, and the ones most popular with gays, are south of Kennedy Boulevard. Tampa has several lovely districts dating back to the land boom of the 1920s and '30s, including picturesque Hyde Park and shady Seminole Heights, with its stately, historic homes. The biggest concentration, and widest variety, of nightclubs is along 7th Avenue in Ybor City, which is a little like New Orleans' Bourbon Street. Shoppers should head to Garrison Seaport Center (a major port for cruise ships bound for Mexico and the Caribbean), with its major shopping-and-dining scene known as Channelside. And sports fanatics will be impressed by the St. Pete Times Forum, a 20,000-seat bayfront arena that is home to the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.

Facing Tampa from across the bay, St. Pete's compact downtown offers some good dining and shopping. You'll find a selection of gay and gay-friendly businesses in the heart of the city and west of downtown in the Grand Central District, a residential area that's popular with gays. Nearby Gulfport, with its pastel-hued homes, has a reputation as a lesbian and artist mecca.

St. Pete's pride celebration in June claims to be the biggest in the state, and Tampa holds a Winter Pride event in February. There's also a long-running gay film fest in May. There are a number of beaches in the area that are popular with gays, including Bedrocks and Pass-A-Grille.


Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 17 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Saint Petersburg

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