TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Want a fun night out but without the traditional bar experience? We've got you covered with these unique bars that are in and around Tampa Bay. From rooftop views and piano dueling, to a Halloween-themed haunt and virtual reality, these bars are definitely not cookie-cutter!
Park & Rec
Location: 100 4th St. S., St. Petersburg
Typical drinking games can get boring, so why not head to a bar that doubles as an arcade? At Park & Rec, they want to make you feel like a kid again with arcade games galore. Expect classics like Pac Man, Skeeball and air hockey. There are also more competitive games available like giant beer pong, cornhole or giant Jenga. The drinks are just as fun with names like Donkey Kong (Ketel One Vodka or Jameson Irish Whiskey, fresh lime juice and ginger beer) and Sip Me Baby, One More Time (Ketel One Botanical cucumber and mint vodka, strawberries, cucumber, triple sec, lime and Sprite). They don't play around when it comes to food either. Their menu is lengthy, with typical arcade food like mozzarella sticks, chips and guac, soft pretzels and nachos; but also, honey sriracha shrimp, a variety of flatbreads, tacos, burgers, handhelds that come with fries, and sweets and milkshakes.
Location: 1613 E. 7th Ave., Tampa
It doesn't get more lively than Showbar Ybor, a dueling piano bar that opened near the end of 2020. This nightlife hot spot is popular for its unique specialty: you can request songs to be played by pianists and sing along with them! Even the staff gets in on the action by dancing on tables and bars. It's not just about the pianos though—other instruments such as guitars, drums, trumpets and more add to the musical fun. There's also an outdoor patio where you can play lawn games, sip on a cocktail and enjoy the live DJ. If you get hungry, Showbar offers yummy carnival food like funnel cakes, churros and even table nachos, which are drizzled with cheese table-side.
Escape Reality Downtown
Location: 1900 Main St. #104, Sarasota
Maybe you're not in the mood to sit at a dive bar and drink some cheap beer. Maybe you'd like to instead be a space pirate for a day or fly over the Egyptian pyramids—all while buzzed off a great craft cocktail. You can do all of this and more at Escape Reality Downtown, a VR bar in Sarasota. The futuristic concept offers more than 50 virtual reality experiences, including Google Earth, Job Simulator and Space Pirate Trainer; as well as multiplayer games and VR escape rooms. The multiplayer VR games can be played by up to six people at a time. The escape rooms were created through a partnership with Ubisoft, creator of Assassin’s Creed. There are three rooms: Escape the Lost Pyramid, Beyond Medusa’s Gate and Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time. There are also three regular escape rooms, board games and a retro arcade if you've lost touch with reality maybe a bit too much. As far as drinks go, they are just as captivating; sip on beverages like “Triforce” and “Ms. Pacman,” that pay tribute to your favorite childhood games.
The Dog Bar
Location: 2300 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
At The Dog Bar, pooches are welcome. Here you can enjoy a full-service bar while playing with your dog or giving pets to others. The off-leash dog park has over 4,500 square feet of fenced fun and is designed with Astroturf, making for a comfortable experience for your dog. There’s also a supervisor at the park at all times, so you can do your thing while letting your dog do theirs. They also have food trucks on deck in case you or your pup get hungry. As for drinks, enjoy 31 rotating draft beers, cocktails, 40+ choices of canned brews and more.
Florida Tiki Tours
Location: 209 Boardwalk Pl. E., Madeira Beach
Cost: Private daytime tikis start at $149.99; private sunset tikis start at $169.99
Need a getaway? Float away (at least for a little while) on a floating tiki bar! Florida Tiki Tours offers 90-minute tours around John's Pass Village and Boca Ciega Bay area on a private Hawaiian-style tiki hut. There are two different types of tours: a daytime and a sunset tour. There could be four or six people on the tour, with prices varying. You're encouraged to bring your own food and drinks and there's a cooler with ice on board to keep everything chilled. To make it even more of a party, the tiki hut is Bluetooth-enabled so you can jam out to your favorite songs with your crew!
Location: 103 E. Jackson St., Tampa
GenX Tavern is the best place to “pump up the jam." This bar is 80s and 90s themed, with tons of allusions to the era throughout. Expect references to Friends, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park and even food from the time period such as Pop Rocks, SpaghettiOs and more. The cocktails aren’t left out of the fun either with witty names such as the Cheech and Chong-a-’Rita and Loaded Sunny D. There’s also an Adult Capri-Sun and cheap beer ($2.50) from “your dad’s garage fridge.”
Location: 1909 N. 15th St., Tampa
Here's another bar that will take you back in time but with a surreal/cereal twist. CerealHolic celebrates nostalgia with fun toys, media and trinkets from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as Game Cube games and throwback arcade faves like Ms. Pac-Man. But its main focus is cereal, which is infused into many of the bar's cocktails, milkshakes and even food. One of of the menu highlights is the Hit the Road Jack Burger (their signature burger, infused with Apple Jacks and topped with Apple Cider Bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and a fried egg; all between two crispy waffle hash browns). As for drinks, sip on Drunken Apple Jacks, which is made with Watershed Apple Brandy and has an Apple Jacks-dusted rim; Puff Pebble Mudslide, which is made with Kahlua and includes a Coco Pebbles and Coco Puff dust and coating and more. To add even more fun to the night, the bar hosts monthly events, such as drag shows and local artist support nights.
Gigglewaters Social Club and Screening Room
Location: 737 Main St., Safety Harbor
Gigglewaters is a hip spot that's a speakeasy, restaurant and mini-movie theater all rolled into one! The speakeasy honors the prohibition era with Edison lighting, tin ceilings and a custom bar built from Biltmore doors & wood, circa 1897. Here you can order some signature cocktails, like Cake Eater (Camerena Reposado tequila with lime, honey, cucumber and a salted cookie butter rim) or their flashy 1919, an Old Fashioned that arrives with a Luxardo cherry and flamed orange, all sitting atop a big rock. The theater also plays classic movies like Breakfast Club and Goodfellas, if you’re looking for more of a calm night.
Jimmy B's Beach Bar
Location: 6200 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach
Jimmy's B's is not just a regular beach-side bar, it is very much on the beach, with a wooden boardwalk that leads you right to the sand. As a Floridian, what more can you hope for? But besides the cool ocean breeze and spectacular sunset views, Jimmy's has great food and drinks too. There's beach nachos, shrimp tacos, grouper fingers, smoked fish spread and more. As for drinks, cool down from the Florida heat with margaritas, mai tais and plenty of others.
Location: 1903 Market St., Tampa
This rooftop bar set atop Armature Works is deco-inspired and luxurious. It's the perfect place out for a night with the girls or guys due to their tasty drinks and beautiful views. Some of the cocktails include Afterthot, which is a cheeky Aperol Spritz with lemon and kiwi compound; and Cafecito, which is made with Santa Teresa, Amaro Averna, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, cold brew, orgeat and grated coconut. There's a drink for every cocktail lover, whether they're into the sweet, the bitter or the tangy. M.Bird will have you flying with their food options too, with offerings like chicken BBQ skewers, confit chicken tacos, Rooftop Mac n Cheese, a Cubano Board and sweets like mini churros and Boozecicles (seasonally inspired semi-frozen craft cocktails).
Location: 937 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
No Vacancy allows you to go back in time to experience some Old Florida vibes. Think neon signs, plastic flamingos and palm trees. The color scheme is purple and pink, making for some great photo opportunities. Plus, the cocktails are tropical and tasty with creations like A Shore Thing (Grey Goose vodka, tangerine, passion fruit and bitters) and Feeling Nauti (frozen drink with Espolon Blanco tequila, Campari, orgeat syrup, fresh lime, grapefruit and pineapple). To get more bang for your buck there are also punch bowls, which serve four people and come in a variety of flavors!
Sal Y Mar
Location: 3650 Midtown Dr., Tampa
This rooftop bar was one of the first restaurants to open up in Midtown Tampa. It's not just your regular rooftop haunt—drawing inspiration from the Riviera Maya town of Tulum, Sal Y Mar offers a menu of tapas, entrees, cocktails and desserts. Expect dishes like Citrus Crab Cakes, Pan Seared Scallops, Jack Fruit Ceviche and Flan de Naranja, served with an orange caramel drizzle. They don't skimp on creativity with their drinks either! Sip on goodies like the spicy Sal Y Mar Margarita, the sweet vodka drink Love You More and the refreshing Cucumber Waterloo. All menu items come with a fantastic view of Downtown Tampa.
Hurricane Seafood Restaurant and Rooftop Bar
Location: 809 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach
This rooftop bar and restaurant has served the St. Pete Beach community for over 42 years. It's located in historic Pass-A-Grille, right across the street from the Gulf and features two twin rooftop bars. Come here for the sunset, where you'll be able to watch a dazzling display in the sky from the rooftop deck. Hurricane's menu started out modestly with just ten items but now it has expanded to include dishes like smoked wings, fish spread, peel and eat shrimp, a fresh grouper po'boy and more. A highlight from their cocktails section is the frozen piña colada, a tried and true staple at the beach.
Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar
Location: 453 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin
This hidden gem is tucked away on top of the Fenway Hotel, which was once home to Tampa Bay's first radio station, WGHB. The Fenway opened in 1927 and has since been renovated, but it has managed to keep some of that original musical influence. The bar's name, Hi-Fi (a reference to high-fidelity sound reproduction), alludes to its past. But it's not all old-timey; in fact, the design is modern but its the views that really steal the show. From Hi-Fi's rooftop, you can see stunning scenes of Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands. While you enjoy, make sure to order one of their creatively constructed cocktails: Cool Cat is refreshing and comes with Wheatley Vodka, lime and basil; while Tropical Tune is a fruity getaway with Plantation pineapple rum, coconut rum, banana, orange and pineapple. There's also small shareable plates, salads and burgers available.
Cocktails & Screams
Location: 39 W Pine St., Orlando
Yeah, yeah, we know this one isn't in Tampa Bay, but it's too cool not to include! Cocktails & Screams is all about Halloween with cocktails, food and decor strictly adhering to the theme. There's a mask wall upon entry, with iconic and unique faces from Halloween movies and pop culture. The cocktail menu is full of potions and concoctions like Witches Brew (Absolut Juice Apple, flambeed cinnamon apples, sour apple and fresh apple cider) and Supernatural (MQueen and the violet fog gin, creme de violet, orange liquor and cream, all topped off with a flaming marshmallow). But they also have some scary good bites too! Try the Tres Brujas (3 buttered Hawaiian roll sliders stacked with shredded chicken in a house-made lizayo sauce, topped with melty mango habanero cheddar and lettuce) or the Black Cauldron (Callebaut chocolate fondue served with house-made pumpkin mallows, edible cookie dough, fresh fruit, pretzel rods and potato chips). If that wasn't enough, the bar also has live music and Halloween costume contests throughout the year!