Been here? Rate It!
A disjointed downtown to explore carefully
A downtown waterfront is the face, focal point, and signature attraction of any city blessed to have one. Such a city’s beauty, recreation, and civic pride are often inextricably tied to its central waterfront district. Most cities in Florida have waterfront downtowns. As a city that has lured thousands of fans to four Super Bowls over the years, Tampa should have a very visitor-friendly downtown waterfront. Instead, I was surprised to find that in terms of pedestrian friendliness, planning, aesthetics, and landscaping, and general waterfront access, Downtown Tampa seems to suffer from poor planning. For example, Tampa does have a “Riverwalk” but at the time we visited it was short, fragmented, and boasted little landscaping. Instead of being distinctive signatures, Tampa’s low bridges look very uniform and, and the bulkheads on either side of the Hillsborough River are lined with hand-painted signs, a trademark of college crew teams that might be confused for graffiti by the untrained eye. As for the waterfront itself, the city’s behemoth convention center and an indoor hockey arena dominate the most prime pieces of real estate. While convention centers do draw business people, this one, with its busy road tunnel, serves as more of a physical obstruction between the central city and the waterfront. That said, Downtown does have some impressive skyscrapers and marquee hotels that are worth looking up at, but be careful crossing the streets that intersect between them. We actually had planned to make Downtown our base of operations for exploring Bayshore Boulevard and Channelside by foot, but the design of the city center is just not conducive to doing that safely and efficiently.
- Hiking and Walking
Hyde Park Village
This is such a cute walking area- complete with a monthly art/fresh market! Love exploring the stores, including Francesca's boutique, the nearby Pottery barn and more local stores like handmade jewelers. Look up the calender and catch a market to see Tampa's talent!
A Very Great Resource
I moved to The Tampa area this past February and worked Downtown from then until May. I was astonished by the activities going on throughout the week days, and when I came by on the weekend, it was a completely different scene! From the Friday Market Place to the Rock the Park, I have to sometimes take a step back!
If you have not seen the signs for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, I would highly suggest using that as your guide for making a visit to DT as fruitful as possible. They have an excellent resource online, and I believe they just launched a mobile site. You can see the full list of places to eat, bars, companies, etc.
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
Wander around downtown
Downtown Tampa is often overlooked but it has a lot to offer. From the amazing architecture of the Old Tampa Hotel at the University of Tampa to the towering skyscrapers, history and impressive architecture are in abundance. Key landmarks include the Tampa City Hall (1914), Tampa Theater (1926), and Sacred Heart Church (1905).
Downtown parks include Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park and Bayshore Boulevard Linear Park.
best kept secret
Stop by PANINOTECA. Amazing food at great prices, what more could you ask for? Open for lunch and dinner, his modern cafe offers inside and outside seating in a relaxed atmosphere. Offering tapas plates, salads, and paninis Paninoteca prides themselves on freash homemade food! Dont forget to try the roasted garlic and greek feta dip served with warm pita bread and famous baklavah.
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
Downtown Tampa's newest feature is the 2.2 mile Riverwalk that connects various parks and cultural venues along the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel, on the west and south sides of downtown. The trail begins at the Channelside area, home fo the aquarium, and runs past the St. Pete Times Forum, the convention center, downtown, the University of Tampa, the performing arts center, and numerous parks on the way to Tampa Heights.
The Old Tampa Hotel - UT's Plant Hall
Plant Hall was built from 1888 to 1891 and was originally named the Tampa Bay Hotel. The huge 511-room hotel hosted Theodore Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Clara Barton, Stephen Crane, the Prince of Wales, and the Queen of England among others. The hotel closed in 1930 and was vacant until 1933 when the Tampa Bay Junior College was established. This college grew into what is today the University of Tampa. Today the old hotel serves as administrative offices and classrooms for the university while the south wing hosts the Henry B. Plant Museum, which displays various artifacts from the hotel's heyday.
The Tampa Theater provides Downtown Tampa a vibrant, historical feel. The lights of the marquee and the incredible architecture inside, coupled with an evening movie allows any tourist to leave Tampa feeling its culture and history. It is my suggestion for any visitor of Tampa to visit Tampa Theater.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Florida Holocaust Museum
Created in memory of the 8 million innocent men, women, and children who died in the Holocaust. The museum is a great tribute and does a pretty good job of explaining the Holocaust. The museum also has a real 15-ton boxcar that was used to transport people to their death.
Monday-Friday: 10 am to 5 pm.
Saturday-Sunday: 10 am to 5 pm.
The last admission is at 4pm.
$8 General Adult Admission
$7 Senior Citizens and College Students (with current ID)
$4 Students (under 18)
AAA members receive $1 off General Adult Admission
Audio tours available at no charge
Florida Holocaust Museum.
They have one of the few remaining boxcars used by the Nazis to transport Jews to Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka.
The permanent exhibit is called History, Hope, and Heritage and is a great tribute to those who suffered under this horrible atrocity of history.
- Save up to 50% on hotels.
- Hotwire.com Hotwire: Get a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.
Tampa Travel Guide
Explore the World
- Virginia Beach Hotels
- Malgrat de Mar
- Lough Key Forest Park Hotels
- Palma de Mallorca
- York Mills Hotels
- Ho Chi Minh City Hotels
- Laoag City