OT: Need Tampa Advice

Submitted by goblue7612 on December 6th, 2012 at 12:24 PM

So last year for the Sugar Bowl, some New Orleans natives and regulars gave us great advice about places to eat, things to see, and places to stay. Those tips were incredibly useful. I was wondering if some Tampa natives or regulars could give us some advice on things to see, places to eat, places to stay, etc.

Most importantly, can anyone tell us where to spend NYE? We've heard that Channelside can be decent, and then there's Ybor City as well as South Howard/Hyde Park.

What is public transportation like around the city? There's a trolley that runs supposedly. Anyone know how convenient it is and how late it runs?

What are the taxis like? Is it cheap to go from Ybor City to South Howard? Are they plentiful? (for example Purdue and Indiana University LACK CABS)

What is the tailgate scene like before the game at Raymond James? Are there specific lots we should buy a tailgate pass for?

Thanks in advance for all of your tips. Pretty sure there wasn't a thread dedicated to this, hope I'm not wrong.



December 6th, 2012 at 12:34 PM ^

Public transportation in Tampa is very poor.  Almost impossible to get around by bus/trolley at peak hours.  Taxis are not very plentiful either. 

In terms of where to go, it depends on what you like to do.  Do you wanna rage?


December 6th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

Probably should have mentioned that we're all recent graduates between the ages of 23 and 25. But we're open to a variety of things, and even family friendly events would be appreciated for others on the board. If anyone has experienced NYE at the Channelside Plaza specifically, an opinion on that would be very useful also.


December 6th, 2012 at 12:49 PM ^

I you want to be around people, Ybor is the way to go.  If are looking for something a little more laid back, Channelside would be nice.  I think that's where they do the fireworks as well.  Also, this info could no longer be accurate, since I haven't been there in a while.

Perkis-Size Me

December 6th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

It hasn't changed much. If you want to rage your face off, go to Ybor. If you want to have a good time, and rage on a smaller scale, Channelside is the way to go. Its pretty comparable to the landing in Jacksonville.

If you go to Ybor, I'd suggest you stay on 7th Ave, or around Centro Ybor. There's nothing to see off of 7th, and it can get pretty sketchy outside of it.


December 6th, 2012 at 1:45 PM ^

That was precisely the comparison that we were looking for. we were at Jacksonville landing for nye two years ago and loved it. are the nye celebrations in Jacksonville landing and channelside similar? Basically does it have beer and shot stands all around with live music and fireworks off the bay? beer stands are very important to our group.

Perkis-Size Me

December 6th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

i have to imagine they are, but i personally have never been to channelside fo nye. i've spent my time more around the hyde park/soho area. but its a very similar setting to the landing. i would be shocked if they didn't have beer stands, but even if they don't, you will be surrounded by bars.


December 6th, 2012 at 12:56 PM ^

I think it's more fun at your age than really family friendly. Near where the team/band/cheerleader hotels were located was a nice aquarium, with a movie theater next door. 

Ybor City seems the place to be for New Year's Eve, but it poured rain the year I was done there, and it's a lot of going down the street and outdoor patios, so that took the gleam off of it. (I seem to remember it not being very warm either; though last I checked right now it's pretty warm down there).   That was in walking distance.

I can't remember how I got to the Stadium....is it within walking distance of hotels and the like? Maybe there was a bus or shuttle. For some reason I'm drawing a blank. Alamo Bowl short walk, Sugar Bowl longer walk, Cap 1 a drive, Rose Bowl a long drive...Outback? I've got nothin'.

The Wolf

December 6th, 2012 at 1:17 PM ^

I find downtown St. Petersburg to be a great area for the younger crowd.  The downtown has really been transformed over the past decade, and is filled with great places to eat and reasonably priced bars and clubs.  It' s a also little more laid back than downtown Tampa, IMO.  I think it really ends up on your preference.

Clarence Beeks

December 6th, 2012 at 9:58 PM ^

Yeah, this is what I was going to add, as well. I have no idea what some people here are talking about with the emphasis on Tampa. I can only assume they haven't been here in a while. Tampa, with the exception of Ybor, is dead when it comes to nightlife. Making the trip to St.Pete, and staying on this side if the Bay, is the FAR better choice, even if it means driving across the bridge to go to the game.


December 6th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

The Outback Bowl typically has a pep rally on Clearwater Beach during the day on NYE. It's like a big tailgate party. If the weather is nice, it would be worth checking out.


December 6th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

Here it is:

Ybor: it's a block similar to Bourbon St. Lots of gay clubs, but fun people watching and cigar smoking.

Channelside: touristy scenic area along the water. Good for a couple early drinks, generally bad/overpriced food. One awesome Vegas-vibe club is Jackson's bistro, but only go on Saturday nights.

Hyde Park/SoHo: this is where all the U of Tampa students go. 20-30 crowd. Campus bar crawl vibe. $6 all-you-can-drink Fri. happy hour.

Random cool club w/ a drive is Blue Martini.

Restaurants: Byrn's is a famous, but expensive gangster steakhouse. Expect to spend $100/person, but once-in-a-lifetime restaurant. Columbia in Ybor is $40/person Spanish food where you can see live Flamenco shows - definitely a must-see.

Taxis between Hyde Park and Ybor are $10-$15 one way.


December 6th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

To clarify, Ybor WAS the coolest, hippest place for nightlife, and everyone wanted to live there. In the past 5 years, though, it has turned into an area that people say, "You have to go there at least once to see what it's like." In Ybor, there is more crime than in the other mentioned areas, and you will find yourself among a lot of ghetto thugs, trannies, goths, etc. It's still a good time for a night, but prepare your expectations. The person next to me had a gun pulled on them once for brushing shoulders w/ the wrong person.

Also, I second MacDinton's in Hyde Park. Them and Rack Daddy's are the ones w/ the Fri. happy hour and eye candy.


December 6th, 2012 at 2:07 PM ^

If you're looking for a nice dining experience, you really can't beat Bern's. Best steak I've ever had and the restaraunt is an experience. For lunch (or any other meal, for that matter) I recommend Datz's. They have a little of everything, and do it all well. Both places are pricey, but if you're in South Tampa, you're looking for pricey anyways.

Perkis-Size Me

December 6th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

also a great place to check out is wright's gourmet house on dale mabry. its a great family-owned deli that's been around for almost 50 years. its a tad expensive but you get your money's worth. try any of the cakes and you will not be dissapointed.

Perkis-Size Me

December 6th, 2012 at 1:24 PM ^

As a Tampa native, I can tell you that Tampa public transportation is pretty awful. Downtown isn't developed enough as far as nightlife goes to really warrant being down there. Its abandoned by 10-11 at night. The trolley that runs goes between Ybor and Channelside, which are actually two pretty good places to be as far as nightlife goes. Ybor especially. Its not Bourbon St, but its close enough. But if you're looking for proximity to the stadium, neither of those places are overly close. There should be tons of cabs in Channelside and Ybor so there's no worries about that.

The Hyde Park/Soho area is also great as far as having young nightlife. Lots of great bars. You can't leave without going to McDintons.

If you're looking for some nice places to stay, the Hyatt over by the airport is really nice, and its right on the water. But if you're looking to be by a nice beach, go to Clearwater or St. Pete Beach.


The Wolf

December 6th, 2012 at 1:44 PM ^

To add to the beach part of russale2012's post, if you are looking for a beach party/hangout consisting solely of people in your immediate age group (of which I am), then I would highly suggest the Postcard Inn, on St. Pete Beach.  It is a hotel/restaurant/beach bar type of place, but it is consistently packed with people of our age.  They frequently have promotions going with one of the big Tampa radio stations, which always include drink specials and other contests.  It will undoubtedly be filled with students and recent grads of FSU, UF, UCF, UT, etc who are at home or visiting for the holidays.  Pairing this atmosphere with the larger vibe and beauty of St. Pete Beach is a difficult recipe to resist, IMO.


December 6th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

We really like downtown St. Pete, right along the waterfront, and if you have the time and transportation, check out St. Pete Beach and Pass-A-Grille. Not super revved up night life but great for the day and evening. As mentioned, Ybor is the hotter late night destination.


December 6th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

and keep it coming! We've got rooms reserved both downtown and Ybor City so far, and will end up cancelling one as soon as we decide where to spend most of our time. We hadn't really considered St. Pete previously, but will take a look into it. Keep the tips/advice coming please!


December 6th, 2012 at 9:11 PM ^

I would say if you're in town for the game only, stay near the stadium. If you're in town for longer, stay near or at the beach and you only need transportation on Game day. I would imagine most beach hotels are running shuttles. They want your business.

Orlando BlueM

December 6th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

I've spent quite a bit of time in and around Tampa.  If you are looking to stay downtown the Marriot Waterside, Embassy Suites, Sheraton Riverwalk, and Hyatt Regency are all decent choices.  I would expect to pay around $150/night.  If you are looking for a beach hotel, my favorite is the Post Card Inn in St. Pete Beach (20 minutes from the stadium).  It's an old Florida Motel that has been remodeled.  A younger crowd hangs out there and it will be festive over New Year's.

Channelside offers a lot of chain type restaurants and is touristy.  I know there's a Hooters and a bowling alley there plus several indoor/outdoor bars.  I imagine there will be a lot of Michigan and USC fans there for New Year's Eve.  Ybor City is more of a club scene.  There are a bunch of restaurants in the area, but none are really worth mentioning.  Hyde Park is worth a visit.  There are a few bars there that I've been to like Yard of Ale, MacDinton's, and Dubliner.  Hyde Park is also home to the world famous Bern's Steakhouse, which is the place to go if you're looking for a great meal.  There are also a ton of seafood restaurants in the beach areas.  The Wharf in St. Pete is a good spot for grouper. 

There are many other things to do in the Tampa area.  Cigar City Brewing has some outstanding beer.  The HardRock Casino and Hotel is nearby.  Busch Gardens is in Tampa and the Orlando theme parks are only an hour away down I-4.  Fort De Soto Beach is close to Tampa and is considered one of the best beaches in the country.  Tampa is also know for its gentleman's clubs and their lenient policies.  

On gameday there are huge grass parking lots around Raymond James.  That's where I've tailgated in the past.  The neighborhood around the stadium isn't the greatest, so I don't think you'll find many bars or restaurants.  Hope that helps.  


December 6th, 2012 at 2:05 PM ^

I live in Sarasota so im not super familiar with Tampa hot spots, but I'd suggest Ybor if your looking to party (Strip clubs/dance clubs). The Columbia restaurant in Ybor is awesome if your into good food. New World Brewery is a really chill bar if your looking for a relaxing night out, you might even get some great live music if your lucky. I spent a lot of time in Ybor around the holidays last year and there were plenty of Outback bowl advertising around the town so i'd assume that the bowl organizers will try to set up some related events for the people coming in.


Hopefully i'll see some of you guys around the town sporting the block M during the Holidays.


December 6th, 2012 at 2:09 PM ^

Stay on the main drag in Ybor City. It can get pretty wild down there. If you're looking for some great Cuban food go to La Teresita or Arco Iris. I like the bars near Hyde Park/Soho better than the Ybor scene. 

Public transportation is virtually non-existant. If you rent a car, it might be worth the hour or so drive to go down to Siesta Key in Sarasota. It's one of the best beaches in the country. 


December 6th, 2012 at 2:30 PM ^

You could go to YBOR, SOHO, and Hard Rock and have a great time in tampa. Im from Orlando but I go to tampa almost every weekend and stay at hard rock hotel and casino. SOHO is my favorite place to go out. Many things to do in tampa. 


December 6th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Of stadium is a great tailgate spot for Bucs games. I believe it is a mall that is pretty much abandoned. Very short walk to stadium, low traffic and lots of locals go there. Thats where I will be, look for my pretty face...lol.


December 6th, 2012 at 3:18 PM ^

I personally wouldn't stay in downtown Tampa UNLESS I had to attend an event which is being held there. That being said, regardless of where you decide to stay, you probably should consider renting a vehicle. Tampa is spread out similar to Detroit and public transportation is probably not going to be a viable option for you.

Rather, if I was you,  (regardless if you are single or have a family), I would stay near one of the beaches, i.e., St. Pete, Clearwater, or in the Oldsmar/Safety Harbor/Palm Harbor region. If you select one of these areas, Raymond James Stadium/ RJS and Tampa International Airport are located east ot them  approximately 10 to 20 miles. RJS is located about 7-10 miles west of downtown Tampa. Ybor City is essentially located in the NE section of downtown Tampa. International Plaza Mall ( similar to Somerset is located near the airport) and so is Westshore Mall which have the high-end stores, etc.



December 6th, 2012 at 4:50 PM ^

I'm in Tampa yearly for a conference.  Ybor has lots of very good local bars and restaurants and tends to be a little rowdier, whereas Channelside has more of a chain feel to it.  Both will probably be busy on NYE.  There's a train that links the two neighborhoods, but public transport is not great there, you're better off just ponying up the cash for the convenience of a cab.  For dinner, definitely hit up a restaurant called Colombia for some excellent Cuban food, a great mojito, and even live flamenco dancing if you're there at the right time!  Book early, this is a popular place.  There's also a pretty decent sports bar called Hattricks downtown, somewhat near the stadium.  Good size place, lots of TVs, decent prices, nice looking waitresses.  Order the Italian Egg Rolls.    


December 6th, 2012 at 6:12 PM ^



Here are a couple of links for you.  

Food: Wright's Deli (Dale Mabry); Acropolis (Ybor City); Bern's (Hyde Park); Datz Deli (SoTpa); 

Hidden Secret: Interbay Meat Market http://www.interbaymeatmarket.com/ where you can get a loaded Cuban themed plate of a meat and three sides for $5.  I highly recommend the pork.


Do you prefer pubs/taverns or bars?  Depending on that preference I can direct you to Ybor, ChannelSide or Hyde Park.  Also there are a few places at International Plaze near the airport.  

You can catch a live show at Jannus Landing (excellent small music venue) in St. Pete, hit Clearwater beach or do the touristy stuff (Busch Gardens, etc.).