A Slice of Tampa Life: In One Weekend Only
June 27, 2016
“Tampa” is the Calusa Native American word meaning “sticks of fire.” The name was given to the port city on the west coast of Florida that was rocked by thunderstorms during the summer months as warm air mixed with ocean winds. With Tampa being ranked as the number one city Americans are moving to due to unusually strong job creation, inexpensive real estate, and a below national average unemployment rate at 4.4%, you may find yourself spending a weekend in the City of Thunder sometime soon for business or for pleasure.
Take our advice on how to get to know it best.
The beauty of Tampa’s downtown is evident on the Riverwalk, a several mile long path encircling downtown and even extending out into the Hillsborough River. The path runs by the Glazer’s Children’s Museum ($15 Adult, $9.50 Child), the Tampa Museum of Art ($15 Adult, $7.50 Seniors/Educators/Military) /and the eight-acre waterfront Curtis Hixon Park, which hosts almost weekly festivals celebrating everything from Tampa’s signature Cuban Sandwiches to internationally acclaimed art festivals. A recent program run by the city lets the buyer of specially-marked cups enjoy an adult beverage out in the open while watching one of Tampa Bay’s magnificent sunsets.
A short Uber ride north will take you to the acclaimed modern American The Rooster and the Till. Co-owners Ty Rodriguez and Ferrell Alvarez planted their locally-sourcing restaurant in the heart of the blossoming Seminole Height neighborhood. Take a lap around the neighborhood before digging into potato and oxtail pierogi with a Cigar City craft beer on the side. Seminole Heights is also one of the best places for real estate investment in the state of Florida today.
Tampa is an extremely Uber-friendly city, making it a breeze to move from quiet dining destinations to high-energy bar scenes. Fueled by students from nearby University of Tampa and University of South Florida, the Soho strip has watering holes for everyone – from no frills establishments like The Dubliner to the rooftop Edge, crowning the recently opened Epicurean Hotel.
The hidden gem is at the southern point of the strip at Ciro’s. With no signage and a call-ahead required for entry, the speakeasy keeps a roster of world-class bartenders with a penchant for bourbon and whiskey. Those with the stomach to survive late into Friday night can take advantage of their late night happy hour beginning at midnight.
At four and a half miles long, the Bayshore Boulevard is promoted as the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. Few things beat walking, running, biking or rollerblading along Bayshore, accompanied by frolicking dolphins just a few feet away in the bay. Tampa’s bike share program, Coast, has several hubs in the downtown and South Tampa area. Grab a bike and head south toward MacDill Air Force Base and look back at downtown from Ballast Point Park.
The Hyde Park Neighborhood, with its humble bungalows and tree-lined avenues, is a walkable buffet of inventive and delicious fast casual eating. Try surf-style salads and flatbreads at Fruitwood Stand-up Market or mix and match pancakes at Daily Eats.
Be the Thunder
With its wildly loyal fan base and back-to-back runs at the Stanley Cup, the only major sports team in downtown – the Tampa Bay Lightning – have become part of the weekend rhythm for the city. During hockey season, warm up for the game at Sail Pavilion on the water and keep the post-game momentum running on the Bud Light Party Deck and enjoy some of the best views of the city.
Transportation And Lodging
Direct flights are usually available to Tampa International Airport from almost anywhere on the Eastern seaboard for under $200. Wait times for Uber rides from the airport are almost never more than three to five minutes.
The Epicurean Hotel puts you in the heart of the SoHo strip action and is located across the street from the world-renowned Bern’s Steakhouse, complete with pool, rooftop bar, and even culinary, wine and mixology classes in their Epicurean Theatre (Doubles, kings from $169-$364).
Hyde Park Hotel is a well-priced boutique alternative tucked behind the Post Hyde Park Apartment complex. Offering clean and modern rooms with weekly rate options, the Hyde Park Hotel is also walking distance from all of South Howard and Hyde Park (Doubles from $74-$98).
A little north is local Airbnb favorite, The Urban Crash. Accredited superhosts Logan and Gretchen turned their home into a climbing-themed guest house for those with wanderlust at heart. Very inexpensive, and even more so when split between groups of four six, the Urban Crash boasts five star ratings from guests ($59-$129).