I was recently in Orlando, Florida for a conference and had another conference lined up in Alabama shortly after. Since it’s quite the trek from Seattle to Orlando and then again to Huntsville, Alabama, I decided to stay parked on the east coast and explore a bit of Florida between trips. Here’s a guide in case you’ve only got a day to spend in Tampa Bay.
What to Do in Tampa Bay
If you’d like to relax and stroll, head out along the Tampa Bay Riverwalk. We enjoyed walking along the waterway while we checked out what all there was to do around the area. We were staying at the Barrymore Hotel which is right on the Riverwalk. There are Coast Bike Share stations near the Riverwalk, so renting one of those for an hour or two would be a fun way to explore more of the Riverwalk and downtown Tampa are.
If you’re a thrill junkie, you’ll probably want to visit Busch Gardens. We arrived a bit later in the day, so it didn’t work for us to visit. However, I know that they’re known for their crazy thrill rides, but they also have over 12,000 animals on site. For the summer they’re running a Summer Nights campaign which I think is specifically targeted towards adults. They’re staying open later and featuring a summer sampler food and drink lanyard option. Perfect spot for a girlfriends getaway!
If you love art, situated on the Riverwalk is the Tampa Museum of Art. I couldn’t get over the optical illusion sculpture, Laura with Bun, that sits out in front of the museum. The face seems to follow you and change shape as you walk past it. The museum also has a large collection of Greek and Roman antiquities.
Where to Eat & Drink in Tampa Bay
The one place you have to head to eat is Datz. I couldn’t possibly explain this fun restaurant as well as they have on their site, so here’s what you can expect from datz: “…comfort food with flair. It’s a craft beer oasis, a bourbon lover’s paradise, a foodie wonderland filled with bacon, cheese, and house-made breads.” Every item on their menu will have you raising your brows or have your mouth watering. From the outside you expect a standard basic restaurant, but inside the decor is old school city — featuring brick walls and a metal staircase leading to a loft.
Something I was shocked to discover is that Tampa Bay is embracing the craft beer scene. Datz has a lot of local brews on draft, but there are also quite a few breweries around town to visit and taste. My favorite spot that we visited was Cigar City Brewing. They have a lot of great options on tap in their tasting room, a big plus for me since I’m not an IPA fan. I actually had quite a few options that I wanted taste. If you do visit and have a craft brew fan, try splurging on a bottle of their award-winning Hunahpu’s.
For some late-night fun consider stopping into Anise. They’re a gastrobar with a great menu of appetizers and meals, as well as cocktails. When we visited they had live music starting up when we arrived. It definitely becomes a nighttime hangout spot, right in the heart of downtown.
There are plenty of great cities to explore in Florida, including many great Gulf Coast vacation spots!
Hopefully this post will help give you a few must visit spots if you find yourself having a day or more in Tampa Bay, Florida!