People probably don’t think of Tampa Bay first when they think of a vacation in Florida. But
Tampa Bay has a wide range of things to do, shops, restaurants, and amusement parks that
will keep any traveler busy.
Want to know what you must do when you go to Tampa Bay?
You don’t need to look any further because you’ve found a Floridian’s guide to what to do,
where to eat, and the best ways to get outside in Tampa Bay!
I recently had the chance to spend a three-day weekend in Tampa Bay. Since I left Florida,
the Tampa Bay area has changed into a city that is easy for tourists to get around and likes
to see them.
I was very surprised by Tampa. At the same time, the city was cosmopolitan and laid-back.
As soon as I stepped off the plane from Boston, I knew I was back in Florida. This is the
second-largest city in the United States. People are giving old buildings a new lease on life
by turning warehouses and old shopping malls into cool places to eat and meet. With their
Instagram-friendly decor and pies, places like Goody Goody Burger make the American
diner look cool again. Tampa also has a lot of history and culture. In Tampa, the Cuban
Sandwich and culture come from Ybor City, which used to be the world’s cigar capital.
While still enjoying a city rich of culture and non-touristy options, Tampa Bay offers the thrills
of amusement parks, making it the ideal destination for a city break.
As you can see, Tampa offers a wide variety of activities. These are some of my top
recommendations for you if you have 72 hours in the city! If you’re still not convinced, look at
my picks for the best places to stay in Tampa at the end.
What hotels are there in Tampa?
Here are my recommendations for Tampa’s top hotels in every price range. Recently, I had
a wonderful visit here.
The trip was wonderful! Although we only stayed for three nights, it was quite clean and near
to the Hard Rock Casino. Our TV wasn’t working, which was the only little complaint, so I
called the front desk, and they instructed me to bring my remote down there and replace it.
We wished they would have just brought up a new remote or brought up batteries as we
were in the middle of attempting to get dressed and ready for our day. Otherwise the stay
Day 1 in Tampa, breakfast
I began my journey by eating breakfast at Oxford Exchange, one of Tampa’s most
picturesque locations. The Oxford Exchange brought to mind my dining and shopping
adventures throughout Europe. Here, you may get together with your friends and enjoy a
variety of activities under one roof, including dining, shopping, and afternoon tea. I love it
when a place fosters the sense of social interaction like this one does! I decided to have a
quick breakfast at the coffee shop. Here, I enjoyed a Buddy Brew Coffee cappuccino and
some wonderful banana nut bread.
After your stomachs are full, proceed across the street to the storied Tampa Bay Hotel,
owned by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. It is now the location of the University of Tampa,
a building with fairytale-like minarets that faces the waterfront.
To get to the Tampa Riverwalk from there, cross the bridge over the Hillsborough River. Over
time, Tampa transformed this boardwalk path, making it ideal for both bikes and walkers, by
utilizing the river that flows through the city. This is one of my top recommendations for free
things to do in Tampa if you’re on a tight budget!
Along the journey, keep a look out for manatees, dolphins, and alligators. The fauna in
Florida contributes to its allure.
I figured it would be time to leave the sun as it gets to be the warmest part of the day. So
why not visit the Tampa Museum of Art for a dose of culture? There is always something
interesting to view here, from sculpture to Abstract Expressionism. This location is really
worth it and is free for college students, discounted for students and the military, and $15
USD for adults.
In February, I saw the Season of Love Exhibition, which was wonderful and expertly curated.
I was pleasantly delighted by this museum, which taught me more about Robert Indiana’s
famous LOVE sculptures and let me visit Yayoi Kusama’s LOVE IS CALLING infinite room.
When you are hungry, go to Ulele, which is located along the Riverwalk, for a late lunch. In
Tampa, this is the place to go for foodies. You can sample the mix of Florida’s wildness and
Native American cuisine here. They unwind, play corn hole, and sunbathe on their outside
furniture. You are in Florida after all, so unwind!
Tampa Bay’s Armature Works
Head to Armature Works if you still have a sweet tooth or need to eat something. A massive
structure known as Armature Works doubles as a community gathering place and food court.
They held a large-scale outdoor screening of Hitch when I was in Tampa. As dusk fell,
people watched movies while having picnics, drinking, and playing board games. Any sweet
craving can find food and treats at Armature Works. Armature Works is just one of several
renovated structures that have been transformed into new mixed-use areas.
Day 1: Shopping and Happy Hour
Take an Uber to Hyde Park, a lovely neighborhood and popular shopping area in Tampa
Bay. Some of my favorite stores, including Anthropologie, are located here. With street art on
nearly every street corner, gorgeous older homes painted in pastel colors, and a park with a
fountain, Hyde Park is an Instagrammer’s paradise!
When you’re done shopping, stop by Timpano’s Happy Hour from 3 to 7 p.m. for snacks and
Sarah is at Hyde Park reading near a fountain.
Live a Great Story at Hyde Park’s Sweet Soul.
In Tampa, today is a good day with travel blogger Sarah Fay in the foreground.
Day 1: Options for sports or entertainment in the evening
After the sun sets, there are many things to do in Tampa Bay. Tampa is a sports fan’s dream
with clubs like the NHL’s Lightening and the MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays, who boast the most
victories in a season! Additionally, depending on the season, you might find yourself
watching a Red Sox or Yankees Spring Training game here.
However, let’s face it, not everyone enjoys sports. You may catch a show at the Straz Center
for the Performing Arts or a comic in a comedy club any given night. In this global city,
something is always happening. Hamilton was performing at the Straz Center while I was in
Day 2: City of Coffee and Cigars
Water taxi along the riverwalk in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay water taxi
Due to the Pirate Water Taxi and a free Historic Trolley that runs from Downtown to Ybor
City, Tampa, although being enormous, is now better connected. Tampa is the ideal
destination for a weekend or solo traveler due to its accessibility by public transportation and
many of its neighborhoods’ walkability.
Head to Foundation Coffee in Sparkman Wharf on Channel side as you start your day for a
fantastic roast and a setting that will ensure you have a nice start.
Locate the closest trolley stop, and then take that to the end of the line, which is Ybor City.
Without a visit to Ybor City, a trip to Tampa wouldn’t be complete. Florida has two National
Historic Landmark Districts, one of which being Ybor City. In 1886, Vicente Martinez-Ybor
founded Ybor City. It was the first industrial town in Florida.
Activities in Ybor City
It was once well-known for its entertainment and nightlife, but today it is experiencing a
creative revival and welcoming its past with open arms. In addition to being a cultural melting
pot with some of the best Cuban food in the nation, Ybor City is well recognized for its
Take images of the rabid wild hens and roosters. Learn about their history and how the
chickens are safeguarded here: https://www.yborchickens.org Yes, there really is a Ybor
At La Segunda, Central Bakery, the largest manufacturer of Cuban Bread, pick up some
baked goodies or a Cuban. The Cuban food was absolutely the best I’ve tasted in a while.
The Ybor City Museum in Tampa is a $4 investment that is well worth it. I’ve added it to my
list of unusual things to do in Florida. You may explore an old casita that the first Cuban
immigrants resided in and discover all about the history of Ybor and the cigar industry here.
Tampa’s Ybor City Museum Ybor City Museum
Shop at vintage and used clothing boutiques and cigar shops along East 7th and East 9th
Avenue. I enjoyed observing the multigenerational activity via the window, where a
grandmother and her grandson were rolling cigars.
See the Tampa Bay Scientology Chapter, which is located in the original Ybor City cigar
At Tabanero Cigars, you can smoke cigars or even observe the process from a window.
Without leaving Florida, travel to Cuba. Jose Marti Park can be found at the intersection of
8th Avenue and 13th Street. In a sense, Jose Marti is the George Washington of Cuba, and
the.14-acre park is dedicated to him. He led the campaign and frequented Ybor City to
recruit fighters and funds before losing his life in the struggle for Cuban independence. Since
1956, the Cuban government has owned this park, which is open to visitors without a
passport from 8 am to 1:30 pm.
Where can I get food in Ybor City?
Sarah Fay standing in the entrance of the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor
City. a tiled entrance with bright colors.
Sarah Fay at Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City
Why not travel to Columbia now that you have already been to Cuba and returned on an
empty stomach? No, foolish, I’m talking about Columbia Restaurant, not Colombia, the
nation. Florida is home to many Columbia Restaurant locations, but the first one opened in
Ybor City in 1905.
You should come here for dinner and a concert at night. While having supper, you can see
flamenco in this location. (Remember to book a reservation!) Colombia is extremely
well-liked, but it’s worth the trouble. My go-to entrée is the Ropa Vieja, and for an appetizer, I
frequently get the 1905 Salad to share. It’s worth it, in my opinion, to spend a little extra
money to eat at one of Florida’s oldest and most stunning restaurants. There is a fantastic
gift shop nearby as well.
Ybor City is the best location for live music. Visit Rock Brothers Brewery, a Tampa Bay
institution featuring local music and beverages.
Visit Crow Bar to listen to music from any genre you can imagine. All visitors to Crow Bar
lose themselves in the music and dance the night away.
When the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival rolls around, Gaspar’s Grotto, a pirate-themed
pub and restaurant, is the place to be if a full-on club isn’t your thing.
Day 3: Beach or Busch Gardens?
After a hectic day of eating, visiting museums, and shopping in Tampa, you may want to
choose between visiting the nation’s top beach, Clearwater Beach, or Busch Gardens, home
to some of the nation’s most terrifying roller coasters.
On this vacation, I went to Clearwater Beach, but I can also heartily recommend seeing
Tampa’s Busch Garden Park. A day pass to the park costs as little as $85 USD, making it far
less expensive than Orlando, Florida’s Disney World and Universal (online purchase).
Anyone looking for a thrill will be content with the 7 mind-blowing roller coasters.
However, visit Clearwater Beach to unwind and take in Florida’s breathtaking scenery.
TripAdvisor recently ranked Clearwater Beach as the best beach in the USA.
Activities in Clearwater Beach
Enjoy your final day of vacation by unwinding, swimming, and getting a tan.
Dolphins wherever you see! From $19.75 USD, there are dolphin cruises available through
Encounters with Dolphins.
Enjoy the street performers and artisans along the pier while fishing off Pier 60.
Water sports are alive and well in Florida, where you can go jet skiing, parasailing,
waterskiing, and engage in a variety of other exhilarating water activities.
There is more information at Visit Clearwater.
See my post on my favorite Florida beaches for a list of additional fantastic beaches.
Travel blogger Sarah Fay taking in the Clearwater Beach sunset. The sky has a candy-like
Sarah Fay is in Florida’s Clearwater Beach as the sun sets.
Where can I find food in Clearwater Beach?
The neighborhood’s preferred restaurant is Cooters Restaurant and Bar. Do you know what
a Cooter is? In Clearwater, a turtle is referred to as a “cooter.” It features wonderful seafood,
a laid-back atmosphere with entertaining patrons, and other dining alternatives if seafood
isn’t your thing.
What about dessert?
Ice-cream!!!! For the greatest ice cream in Clearwater Beach, Florida, visit Ice and Cream.
Sounds like my kind of place: local ice cream produced by locals using local products, in a
beautiful facility that supports local artists!