In the last decade Tampa, Florida has continued to become an increasingly popular city for tourism with an increase of 67%! It goes without saying that being the Super Bowl hosts and champions of 2021 only added our publicity.
A great perk I have enjoyed about Tampa is that the airport is just 10 minutes away from all the best things to do in downtown Tampa so it’s super easy to explore the city for a few hours before or after a flight. Shortly after I had moved to Florida I took a 24-hour trip from St. Pete to Tampa to watch the Superbowl and I learned there were a lot of things to do in downtown Tampa in that timeframe.
My Findings Fact: Did you know Tampa is within range of over a dozen gulf coast beaches all under an hour away?
10 Things to do in Downtown Tampa
1. Sparkman Wharf
The Sparkman Wharf is a modern outdoor courtyard with restaurants and shops on the east side of downtown Tampa. It has a diverse group of restaurants ranging from casual, grab-and-go, and upscale. The Wharf makes for a great stop when you’re on a time crunch because you can do so much all in one place! I’ve heard rave reviews about Jeni’s ice cream so don’t miss out on grabbing a scoop.
2. Have Lunch at Jotoro Kitchen & Tequila Bar in Sparkman Wharf
While in Sparkman Wharf grab some lunch at Jortoro’s. Food in downtown Tampa, like any major city, can be quite pricey, but this place is pretty reasonable! The portion size of the burrito was satisfactory, plus free chips and salsa always put me in a good mood. Although I’m particular about Mexican food, this spot was above average, and the service on a busy game day was exceptional!
3. Grab Cocktails From Rivers Edge Overlooking the Riverwalk
Rivers Edge is a bar & restaurant which is a part of the Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel in downtown Tampa. As the name suggests it’s located right on the Hillsborough River and connected to the Tampa River Walk. You can enter directly from the river walk or from the street, there’s no need to enter into the hotel lobby.
My boyfriend and I ended up here as a last resort to watch the Super Bowl… we couldn’t find anywhere else that wasn’t at full capacity or that didn’t require a reservation. The Sheraton saved our night and turned into a surprise gem we never would have found unless we were desperate for a place with a TV, lol.
Not sure how lively the atmosphere would be on a normal night but if the crowd isn’t as lively you can still enjoy drinks with a view.
4. Breakfast at Attic on Kennedy for a View of Downtown Tampa
From Kennedy St., you will see signs for Attic Café which is on the 4th floor. The inside has a very industrial look with the focal point being the city views from the balcony. We came super early on a Monday morning before going back to St. Pete so there was no wait but our server told us it gets super packed at normal breakfast and lunchtimes so plan accordingly.
I really enjoyed their hazelnut latte. The lengthy menu of breakfast classics, pricing, and portion sizes reminded me of a diner. The food was nothing special but it tasted really good as we were recovering from our Superbowl victory-induced hangovers from the night before lol. So in reality, it’s the coffee and the views that are worth coming for.
5. Kiley Gardens
Kiley Garden is easy to walk past without noticing it’s even there. What makes this spot unique is that it is elevated from the street. It’s a cool place to have a picnic, walk around, or take some pictures. It also has a view of Tampa University right across the Hillsborough River.
6. Tampa Riverwalk
Probably the most “touristy” place on my list, but I kinda have to include it as it is one of the main walking spots in the city. The riverwalk is 2.6 miles and the best part is that many attractions are along with it.
Where to start:
Grab lunch in Sparkman Wharf and then walk northwest which will lead you to the Tampa Convention Center which goes along the boating docks. It’s a beautiful-looking building with shade and benches for resting.
Another suggestion I heard is popular is starting at the opposite end at Armature Works and walking southeast.
7. Armature Works
Armature Works as briefly mentioned above is a hot spot to visit.
It is a large historical building with over a dozen food, drink, and dessert options to choose from including a rooftop bar and weekend farmers market. It also has a monthly event calendar and rentable event spaces.
8. Hyde Park Village
An upscale outdoor shopping center strip with restaurants and stores like Madewell, Anthropologie, and West Elm
Bonus Tips to Plan Your Visit to Downtown Tampa
Be Careful in Ybor City
Ybor City is not the place to wander off if you don’t know the area well. I’d stick to the busy area which is 7th Ave. There are usually people walking there all the time.
I had booked a hotel there because our Airbnb was canceled last minute by the host. One room in a sketchy area of Ybor City was all that was left for Super Bowl Sunday. As our Uber was dropping us off after the game he audibly gasped when he saw where our hotel was and he warned us to be careful. We barely slept that night and got out of there at 6 am, lol.
My Finding’s Tip: Wheather you’re just visiting or thinking about living in Tampa make sure to research the best neighborhoods in Tampa before you get serious about a place.
Downtown Tampa is not the best place for bar hopping.
As far as things to do in downtown Tampa goes, bar hopping isn’t quite what I thought it would be. I discovered this the night of the super bowl when we were trying to find a place to pre-game at. The bars are all spread out and most I entered were very dive-bar-esque with a stale atmosphere and an older crowd. They didn’t seem trendy or fun. If you want to bar hop in Tampa SOHO and Ybor are the places to go.
While planning or visiting the Tampa Bay area here are some additional posts that will be a great resource for you: