24 Hours in Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay continues to evolve as a destination for foodies, sports fans, and those seeking the keys to paradise.
From sunup to sundown this city is alive and activated. There’s a reason US News and World Report named Tampa the best city to live in. That accolade isn’t just for humans, either. Smart Asset named Tampa one of the top 5 most dog-friendly cities in America.
Start your day with a breezy stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk. Begin the scenic saunter in Tampa Heights. You can grab an iced latte at Buddy Brew Coffee inside the sprawling Armature Works food hall and make your way toward Curtis Hixon Park. Micro-mobility is key here in the city of Tampa, and there are plenty of options for getting around. Bikeshare and electric scooters are available to rent at your leisure at hubs in Tampa Heights, downtown, and all over the city.
Pro tip: It would be a shame not to make it on the water at least once, and our brilliant yellow Pirate Water Taxi vessels make frequent stops up and down the Hillsborough River.
Start your day in Tampa Bay
Need breakfast? Options are not in short supply. Gluten-free diners can visit Craft Kafe right across the street from historic Plant Hall at the University of Tampa for a quick bite and meticulously sourced coffee beans.
If you’re craving a rainbow bagel and a whimsical latte, make sure to visit Lady and The Mug downtown. The cafe features a dreamy swing and decor plucked straight from a fairy tale.
For those who know the phone eats and drinks first, TeBella’s cafe inside the lush Oxford Exchange should be on your must-visit list. The Oxford Exchange also has its own charming bookstore and one of TripAdvisor’s highest-rated weekend brunch menus in the country.
Want to eat like a local? Yolk White & Associates is an unassuming food cart in MacDill Park nestled along the Riverwalk that is famous for its grits. Yes, grits. Enjoy riverfront front views at one of Yelp’s Top 100 spots to dine at in Florida for under $10.
Serious coffee connoisseurs will need to make the trip out to King State Coffee. This café is situated inside a converted gas station, and Food & Wine ranked it as the 8th best coffee roaster in the entire country. Their yogurt bowl is filled with fresh fruit and is a light morning delight, and their merchandise is perfect for anyone wanting to take home a unique souvenir.
Zoos, aquariums, theme parks, oh my!
It’s not hard to fill a day in Tampa Bay. The difficult part is choosing what to do.
Thrill-seekers should reserve a ticket and a fast pass to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay to ride the award-winning, record-breaking Iron Gwazi. This coaster plunges riders from a 206-foot-tall peak down a 91-degree drop and reaches top speeds of 76 miles per hour.
Take a calm walk on the wild side at ZooTampa and enjoy a day with rhinos, river hogs, and sun bears. This is a perfect family-friendly activity that gives you a taste of the wonder of the Sunshine State.
Aspiring marine biologists need to make the trek to The Florida Aquarium. Touch stingrays, walk inside the shark tunnel, witness massive sea turtles, or cool off at the resplendent splash pad. Their dolphin cruise excursions mix education with pure Florida fun.
Need something a little different that also offers air conditioning? Tampa is home to a totally immersive Virtual Reality Arcade called The VR Galaxy Lounge. Just a quick trip from Tampa is DartWorld, a wholly unique (and air conditioned) nerf arena. Choose your toy before entering the quirky foam arena.
Chasing sunset views, and the best nightlife in Tampa
Craving views? Tampa turns up after 5 p.m. and nothing compares to cotton candy sunsets in Tampa Bay. Treat yourself to fresh seafood, vibrant cocktails and breathtaking views at Salt Shack on the Bay.
Elevate your night with rooftop cocktails and tasty tapas at Sal Y Mar situated at Midtown Tampa – the “city within a city.” You can find panoramic water views while sipping a Tampa-inspired smoked rum old fashion at Tampa Bay’s tallest rooftop bar, Rox Rooftop Bar, located at The CURRENT Hotel on the Causeway.
The Tampa Theatre marquee is hard to miss along the brick laden Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. Enjoy a movie experience unlike any other as a pianist ascends from beneath the stage as a prelude before every show at this historic movie house.
Hop on the free TECO Line Streetcar and hit up the dueling piano bar in Ybor City. The ShowBar Restaurant in Ybor not only offers visitors one of the most entertaining evenings in the city, but serves up some of the best cocktails, too.
Brave travelers can enter the gothic dreamscape that is the SpookEasy Lounge, and if you’re in need of spirits you can stroll to the depths of their basement and enter the cocktail haven that is The Catacombs.
Indulge in the craft beer and distillery scene
Tampa is for beer lovers. Enjoy 5-star brews at Ulele, Big Storm Brewing, or the nationally celebrated Cigar City Brewing. Make the trek to Carrollwood to enjoy Wulfaven or sample the nationally adored Angry Chair in Seminole Heights. The latest flavor of Tampa is fermenting inside Channelside Brewing, which exists within another Tampa legend, Four Green Fields.
Distilling culture is also on the rise, and the extremely spacious Dark Door Spirits not only makes some of the best whiskey in the state of Florida, but they offer distilling classes where you can bottle your own spirit. Their distillery tours are as good as any museum walk-through you’re bound to experience. This barely scratches the surface of what Tampa Bay has to offer. Who’s ready to discover this exciting city?