It’s the time of year when ghosts and ghouls are everywhere you look. October isn’t the only month to experience some seriously spooky stuff around the Tampa Bay area, though. The spirits of old Tampa are here year-round and have been for decades, especially in haunted places like Ybor City. Ghost hunters and psychics are often found diving deep into some of Tampa’s most notorious hot spots, hoping to connect with the past. Want to be part of the action? These ghost tours in Tampa Bay are your ticket to a spooky date night.
Tampa’s Most Haunted Places
- Casa Ybor
- The Cuban Club
- Tampa Theatre
- University of Tampa’s Plant Hall
- Florida Brewing Company (now home to Swope Rodante Law Firm)
Ybor City’s rich history includes historical events like the largest fire in Tampa’s history in 1914, which consumed 17 city blocks and tragically took many lives along the way. And with buildings dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, it’s no wonder numerous hauntings and apparitions have been reported throughout town.
The Don Vincente Hotel, built in 1895, is supposedly one of the most haunted buildings in the entire country. It is known today as Casa Ybor but was once a hotel, meeting house, and hospital. Plenty of ghostly happenings have been reported, and an episode of Travel Channel’s The Dead Files was filmed on-site.
Another hotspot for hauntings is The Cuban Club, built in 1917, where several ghosts are rumored to eternally roam.
Tampa Theatre, the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall (formerly the old Tampa Bay Hotel), and the original Florida Brewing Company (now home to Swope Rodante Law Firm) are also notorious for paranormal activity.
Tampa Theatre opened in 1926 and has been a Tampa institution ever since. Over the years, it’s also become a place where spirits have chosen to spend their afterlife, becoming one of the most haunted places in Tampa. The theatre has drawn numerous paranormal investigators and psychics who have all had their own first-hand experiences.
Tampa Theatre’s Director of Marketing, Jill Witecki, has been with the theatre for 11 years and leads their haunted tour, which takes place on select dates in October. The tour leads patrons through various areas of the theater as Jill recounts several different stories with ghostly proof to back it up. There are no costumed characters or special effects and no need. The stories alone are enough to send tingles down your spine.
“There are six locations where the most people have had the most experiences in Tampa Theatre. Now, we’ve heard from people who have been in the building, psychics who have been here, and other people who’ve had experiences. We have far more entities in the building in various locations, including the balcony, including some other spots up on the stage,” said Jill.
“But those six spots we hit on the tour, we have the most stories, the most evidence, the most research associated that we can really tell a meaningful story.”
“What’s important to me when we do these ghost tours is of course, to be entertaining, but to really tell the true history of Tampa Theatre in a new and different way. So yes, the stories are big and fun and told in a creepy way, but they are rooted in truth. I do my best to tell the stories as accurately as I possibly can, supported by as much accurate research and accurate events as I possibly can. ”
Dates: Select days and times October 13-31, 2023
Cost: $15 non-members, free for members
Ever wonder why Tampa Theatre is known as one of the city’s most haunted buildings? Who was the man in seat 308? Why did Robert Lanier tear his final ticket? Find the answers you seek during this 90-minute seasonal backstage tour focused on the ghosts of Tampa’s most historic movie palace.
Looking for more year-round ghost tours and haunted experiences?
Tampa’s haunted history has captured the attention of national TV shows including Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and Travel Channel’s “The Dead Files.” Now, local paranormal enthusiasts have the chance to encounter these spirits as well. Here are a few local ghost tours where you can get a glimpse of the supernatural side of Tampa.
Dates: October 28, 2023 at 8 pm
Cost: $35 and up
Join Ghost Files hosts Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej as they share behind-the-scenes stories, discuss memorable investigations, and maybe even talk to a ghost or two. You can also screen a never-before-seen episode of Ghost Files followed by an exclusive Q&A session.
Dates: Nightly at 8 pm
Cost: $30 for ages 10 and up, $10 for ages 6-12 (not recommended for young children)
This entertaining, informative, and scary walk through Ybor City’s past gives visitors the chance to discover the ghost stories and legends of one of the most haunted towns in the U.S. Voted one of the top 10 ghost tours by USA Today, the tour features guides who are experts in Ybor’s history and are fascinated by the paranormal. This is the only tour in Ybor that offers access to the infamous Cuban Club.
Dates: Thurs & Fri, 7 pm
Ybor isn’t the only part of Tampa Bay with scary stories to tell. Explore some of the area’s most haunted places while using paranormal equipment and listening to spooky ghost stories. Take a Safety Harbor walking history tour starting at Gigglewaters, explore the Arcadia Opera House, or go on the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt at the Clearwater Historical Society Museum. Tour routes vary, so feel free to go more than once.
Dates: Thurs-Sun, 7:30 pm
Cost: $22 for ages 13 and up, $15 for ages 4-12
On these walking tours in Tampa and St. Pete, costumed tour guides lead the way to haunted locales by candlelight. You’ll listen to true ghost stories, learn about wandering spirits, and supernatural oddities, discover local haunted houses, and more.
Dates: Nightly at 8 pm
Cost: $25 for ages 13 and up, $16 for children under 13
Take a haunted tour through the history of the Lightning City. The guides of Tampa Terrors will take you on an adventure through 8-12 locations in Downtown Tampa. Though Tampa Terrors brings you face-to-face with the inexplicable, this tour is suited for all ages.
Located in the suburbs of Westchase, Phantom History House is a brand-new concept deemed “creepy but comfortable and eerie yet elegant.” This bed and breakfast located in Westchase is owned and operated by innkeepers Steve Blanchard and Tim Hinton who run the popular podcast Phantom History, which is devoted to historical locations and the spirits that reside within. It’s the perfect place for those who are fond of the paranormal, the strange, and the odd.
Visitors can stay overnight in one of the four rooms – the Ouija Room, the Cemetery Room, the Portrait Room, or the Castle Room. You can make your stay even spookier by booking a psychic medium to summon lost souls.
The house is available to book per room or as a whole for events and group stays. Each stay includes continental breakfast. Prices range from $175-$800. Make sure to check out their events calendar for spooktacular events throughout the year.
Haunted Pub Crawls
Dates: Thurs-Sun at 7:30 pm
Cost $29.95 (drinks not included)
Need liquid courage to brave ghostly apparitions? This 21+ haunted pub tour combines adult beverages with Ybor’s most famous haunted stories. Follow in the footsteps of deceased rum runners while stopping at some of the city’s haunted bars and buildings with plenty of time for spirits of the liquid variety. Drinks are not included in the ticket price and must be purchased separately.
Dates: Fri-Sat 8 pm-10 pm
Cost: Starting at $39
Another spooky pub crawl, this one-house tour includes visits to a secret haunted pub/restaurant and a speakeasy tavern. You’ll also learn about Tampa’s haunted history and have the chance to purchase adult beverages and food. You can also upgrade your experience to include a VIP tour, where you’ll have an extended time to visit spots that were investigated on some of the most well-known ghost-hunting shows. Haunted dinners, family-friendly tours, and weekly paranormal lockdowns are also available.
Ybor City Mafia Tours
Ybor was once a notorious hangout for gangsters. This fall, you can experience a one-of-a-kind walking tour of Tampa’s most storied neighborhood with Tampa Mafia Tours.
Dates: September 23, 30, October 7, 14, 21, November 4, 11, 18, 25, December 9, 16, 2023
The walking tour includes stops at old gambling palaces, street corners, and alleys, and restaurants that were part of Tampa’s mobster history. Learn about Bolita, the rumored tunnels of Ybor, and the Era of Blood. Your tour will be led by a knowledgeable Tampa historian or author.
Dates: September 14, 21, October 12, 16, November 2, 16, December 7, 14
Enjoy a walking tour with mobster history and stops for drinks along the way. The tour begins at King Corona Cigars and Cafe and stops midway at Rock Brothers Brewing. Drinks are not included in the tour price but may be discounted at some stops, including a 20% discount on drinks at Rock Brothers. This is a slightly longer tour experience than the regular walking tour.
Feature image credit: The Official Ybor City Ghost Tour