Good sources of nightlife information are the Thursday "Weekend" section of the St. Petersburg Times (www.sptimes.com), the "BayLife" and "Friday Extra" sections of the Tampa Tribune (www.tampatrib.com), and Creative Loafing Tampa (www.tampa.creativeloafing.com), a tabloid available at visitor centers and in many hotel and restaurant lobbies.
The bars on Central Ave. and 3rd and 4th Streets are the heart of downtown's nighttime scene. Avoid the bleak BayWalk, an aspiring shopping- dining-entertainment complex bordered by 1st and 2nd streets and 2nd and 3rd avenues north with more SPACE AVAILABLE signs than shops, dining, or entertainment.
The Bar, Club & Music Scene -- Ever since St. Pete started upping its hipster quotient, cool bars began appearing. Among them are A Taste for Wine, 241 Central Ave. (tel. 727/895-1623; www.tasteforwine.net), an upscale spot with polished woods and a granite bar offering terrific by-the- glass vintages, appetizers, and a gorgeous outdoor balcony; the Haymarket Pub, 8308 4th St. N. (tel. 727/577-9621), the gay-friendly "Cheers" of St. Pete, where audible conversation and reasonably priced drinks aren't implausible demands; Jannus Landing Courtyard, 16 2nd St. N. (tel. 727/896-2276; www.jannuslandingconcerts.com), a fantastic outdoor concert venue and bar; Ringside Cafe, 2742 4th St. N. (tel. 727/894- 8465), a laid-back jazz and blues bar; and Push Ultra Lounge, 128 3rd St. S. (tel. 727/871-7874), a bi-level, 10,000-square-foot upscale dance club with a fabulous rooftop deck overlooking the city.
A historic attraction, the Moorish-style Coliseum Ballroom, 535 4th Ave. N. (tel. 727/892-5202; www.stpete.org/coliseum), has been hosting dancing, big bands, boxing, and other events since 1924 (it even made an appearance in the 1985 movie Cocoon). Come out and watch the town's many seniors jitterbug as if it were 1945 again! Call for schedule and prices.
The Performing Arts -- The Bayfront Center, 400 1st St. S. (tel. 727/892-5767, or 892-5700 for information), houses the 8,100-seat Bayfront Arena and the 2,000-seat Mahaffey Theater (www.mahaffeytheater.com). The schedule includes a variety of concerts, Broadway shows, big bands, ice shows, and circus performances. Ticketmaster (tel. 813/287-8844) sells tickets to most events and shows.
Tropicana Field, 1 Stadium Dr. (tel. 727/825-3100), has a capacity of 50,000, but also hosts smaller events when the Rays aren't playing baseball.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.