The Tampa/Hillsborough Arts Council maintains an Artsline (tel. 813/229-2787), a 24-hour information service providing the latest on current and upcoming cultural events. Racks in many restaurants and bars have copies of Creative Loafing Tampa (www.tampa.creativeloafing.com) and Accent on Tampa Bay (www.ampubs.com), two free publications detailing what's going on in the entire bay area. You can also check the "BayLife" and "Friday Extra" sections of the Tampa Tribune (www.tampatrib.com), as well as the Thursday "Weekend" section of the St. Petersburg Times (www.sptimes.com). The visitor center usually has copies of the week's newspaper sections.
The Club, Bar & Music Scene -- Ybor City is Tampa's favorite nighttime venue. Stroll along 7th Avenue East between 15th and 20th streets, and you'll hear music blaring from the clubs. On Friday and Saturday, from 9pm to 3am, the avenue is packed with people, the majority high-school kids and early-20-somethings; but you'll also find something going on Tuesday through Thursday, and even on Sunday. The clubs change names frequently, so you don't need names, addresses, or phone numbers; your ears will guide you along 7th Avenue East. With all of the sidewalk seating, it's easy to judge what the clientele is like and make your choice from there. Another hipster haven is the Hyde Park area of town, where restaurant bars buzz with late-night activity. Most recently the downtown scene has been on the verge of a hipster takeover thanks to places like Fly Bar & Restaurant and a slew of new watering holes frequented by the young and fabulous. Among them: Tapas Wine & Beer Merchants, 777 N. Ashley Dr. (tel. 813/463-1968); Club Underground, a popular hip-hop club at 802 E. Whiting St. (tel. 813/857-5872; www.clubundergroundtampa.com); and Kelly's Pub, 206 N. Morgan St. (tel. 813/228-0870).
And while downtown is still emerging, the center of all things nightlife still remains Centro Ybor, on 7th Avenue East at 16th Street (tel. 813/242-4660; www.centroybor.com), the district's large dining-and-entertainment complex. The restaurants and pubs in this family-oriented center tend to be tamer than many of those along 7th Avenue, at least on nonweekend nights. You don't have to pay to listen to live music in the center's patio on weekend afternoons.
The Performing Arts -- With a prime downtown location on 9 acres along the east bank of the Hillsborough River, the huge David Straz Jr., Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, next to the Tampa Museum of Art (tel. 800/955-1045 or 813/229-7827; www.strazcenter.org), is the largest performing arts venue south of the Kennedy Center. This four-theater complex is the focal point of Tampa's performing arts scene, presenting a wide range of theater, classical and pop concerts, operas, improvisation, and special events.
The restored Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., between Zack and Polk streets (tel. 813/274-8286; www.tampatheatre.org), dates from 1926 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It presents a varied program of classic, foreign, and alternative films, as well as concerts and special events (and it's said to be haunted!).
The 66,321-seat Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. (tel. 813/673-4300; www.raymondjames.com/stadium), is sometimes the site of headliner concerts. The USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. (tel. 813/974-3111; www.sundome.org), on the University of South Florida campus, hosts major concerts by pop stars, rock bands, jazz groups, and other artists.
One of the busiest spots in town for live music, rustic-style, is Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Rd. (tel. 813/971-0666; www.skipperssmokehouse.com), a Key West-style former smokehouse turned blues, jazz, zydeco, ska, and reggae hot spot.
Ticketmaster (tel. 813/287-8844; www.ticketmaster.com) sells tickets to most events and shows.