There's no better place for nightlife than Ybor City, sprung from Cuban cigar factories east of downtown Tampa. Warning: Many of these venues might be closed because they are booked for Republican National Convention events.
From popular dance spots like Prana [1619 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 241-4139] and Czar [1420 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 247-2664], to the Improv Comedy Club [1600 E Eighth Ave.; (813) 864-4000] and hipster music havens Orpheum [1915 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 248-9500] and New World Brewery [1313 E Eighth Ave.; (813) 248-4969], you don't have to venture far from the district's main drag, Seventh Avenue.
Centro Ybor [1600 E Eighth Ave.] is a good place to start (or end) the day, with casual restaurants like Hamburger Mary's, Centro Cantina (an outdoor second-floor joint that overlooks that main Ybor avenue) and Fresh Mouth, all of which are open for lunch and at least until 11 p.m. The real draw is the Tampa Bay Brewing Co., which offers beers brewed in house.
During the day, check out the shops. La France [1612 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 248-1381] is a vintage store with clothing and old and new treasures. Agora [1515 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 247-4141] is filled with furniture, pottery, textiles and other items imported mostly from Southeast Asia. Stop in one of the area's many cigar shops for a souvenir fitting of Ybor's past.
At King Corona Cigars [1523 E Seventh Ave.; toll-free 1 (888) 248?3812], open for breakfast and well past midnight most days, get some Cuban coffee, Cuban toast and a cigar. Or try Tampa Sweethearts Cigar Co. [1603 E Sixth Ave.; (813) 247-3880], where chances are good you will run into Arturo Fuente Jr., president of the company and scion of the famous cigarmaking family. No trip to Ybor City is complete without dinner at the historic Cuban restaurant the Columbia [2117 E Seventh Ave.; (813) 248-4961], with its "1905" Salad and fruity sangria.