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A Weekend Escape in Tampa

Tampa is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway, especially for travelers coming from Miami. An easy 5-hour drive will soon have travelers exploring this fun Florida Gulf Coast city. Tampa offers visitors a unique experience when compared to the beaches of South Beach or even Key West, with a welcoming vibe and lots of places to explore and enjoy. Here, visitors can enjoy active adventures on the water, theme parks, culinary experiences along the waterway, and learn more about the city’s vibrant history and culture while visiting one of the well-known local museums. Follow along as we break down what to do, where to eat, and where to call home during your getaway.

Photo by Kody Cheyne/Unsplash

4 Must Dos:

1. Armature Works: Perfect for people-watching and enjoying a variety of culinary delights, this is an ideal spot to spend the day thanks to a variety of options from wellness to art to shopping, fine and casual dining and more.

2.  Busch Gardens: Experience thrilling rides and encounter exotic animals at this renowned amusement park perfect for family-friendly fun. With a wide range of attractions catering to all ages, visitors can immerse themselves in the excitement of roller coasters, wildlife encounters, and live shows, making it an unforgettable adventure for the whole family.

3. The Riverwalk: Take a leisurely stroll along this 2.6-mile-long scenic pathway, ideal for sightseeing and enjoying the waterfront. A few notable mentions along the way include the Tampa Museum of Art, the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park — great for a picnic - and the Tampa Bay History Center. Visitors can also bike or take a scooter down the riverwalk, or opt for a boat tour along the river.

4.  Ybor City: Explore the historic streets, vibrant nightlife, and delicious Cuban cuisine of this iconic neighborhood, which celebrates its history as the Cigar Capital of the World. Travelers can browse local cigar shops, visit the historic Latin Quarter and check out the Tampa Baseball Museum and Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

5 Places to Stay:

1.  The JW Marriott Tampa, located on Water Street, is just steps from Tampa’s Riverwalk, Amalie Arena, and much more including wellness and entertainment options along the Water Street neighborhood. Guests can take advantage of the onsite Spa by JW, relax by the pool at a private cabana, and enjoy the sunset from the outdoor terrace while enjoying one of the six dining options. Guestrooms offer both city and water views.

2.  The Tampa EDITION is located on Channelside Drive in the Water Street neighborhood. This five-star property is not only pet-friendly, it also offers seven dining and bar options curated  by Michelin-starred chef John Fraser, plus an expansive spa and fitness center. Guests can opt for any of the 172 guestrooms or upgrade for a luxury experience at one of the property’s 30 suites, including the Premier Suites, which feature separate living and sleeping areas and panoramic views of Downtown Tampa, and the Penthouse Suite, which also offers a full kitchen and its own service entrance. 

3.  The Le Meridien Tampa, Courthouse has been recently renovated from a century-old Historic Federal Courthouse to a stylish upscale hotel. This boutique property offers 130 guestrooms and suites that blend historic features with comfort and high-tech features. Cleverly, the old courtrooms have been repurposed to serve as  elegant meeting and event venues. Onsite, guests can relax at the pool, and enjoy the fitness center, which features Peloton bikes to keep guests on their fitness routine. 

4.   The Epicurean Hotel, part of the Autograph Collection Hotels, is the ideal spot for foodies and wine lovers to relax. The property offers 137 guest rooms and suites that combine luxury with urban chic amenities and decor. At this property, culinary influences are at the forefront even  in the guestrooms, which offer artisan pantries stocked with premium liquors, locally crafted beers, snacks and more. During their stay, guests can unwind at one of the onsite restaurants, enjoy the Spa Exchange, visit the pool, work out at the fitness center, or opt for a bike tour. 

5.  The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is synonymous with ongoing fun, and features exciting casinos and multiple entertainment offerings such as original shows and live music at the onsite bars, lounges and performance spaces. Guestrooms offer posh décor and a comfortable ambiance complete with free WiFi. Onsite, guests can also take advantage of the luxurious Rock Spa & Salon; three pools with cabanas, award-winning restaurants,  shops and more. 

6 Culinary Experiences:

1.   BellaBrava Bexley has just opened its latest location in St. Pete and features tasty options such as agrodolce wings—grilled wings served with amarena cherry agrodolce and ricotta salata plus the taleggio Fonduta, a house-made focaccia served with taleggio fonduta. A not-to-miss dessert is the chocolate red wine tart served with whipped mascarpone and fresh strawberries.

2. Stillwaters Tavern, an American Scratch Kitchen + Bar, features 20 beers on tap, many of which are regionally crafted. Delicious dining options are inspired by local ingredients to deliver a modern interpretation of classic American dishes such as fried green tomatoes, fish ‘n chips, pot roast, mac ‘n cheese made with four cheeses, bayou style shrimp and crawfish and more.

3. Boulon Brasserie, located in Tampa’s Water Street neighborhood, features modern interpretations of French classics such as caviar and plenty of bakery options including croissants, an assortment of sandwiches, pastries, muffins, parfaits, and more, as well as unique options like lobster pot pie. On weekends, diners can enjoy brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

4. Ebbe is the creation of Chef Ebbe and takes diners on a multi-course tasting experience with two fixed menus featuring seasonal ingredients for the ultimate luxury dining experience.

5. Beacon, located at the JW Marriott, offers rooftop panoramic views of the city  and waterfront from the hotel’s 27th floor—which is the highest rooftop dining destination in Tampa. This venue is the perfect stop to wind down an  evening  while enjoying a cocktail and tasty bites including duck confit, foie gras paté, delicious salads, charcuterie boards, and sweet treats.

6. Armature Works is an upscale mixed-use event space featuring an upgraded food court, plus a bar and lounge. Dining options range from Cuban dishes at Hemingway’s Cuban Cuisine to BBQ at BNB, to Italian fare from Dalmoros and sweet treats from Bake ‘N Babes or Chill Bros, and  more. Make sure not to miss Bar AW for a specialty cocktail or local brew.


Photo by Anita Denunzio/Unsplash

When visiting Tampa, guests can pack in a lot of various activities in just a few days. From local Miamians to international tourists, Tampa offers an ideal escape for a 3- or 4-day weekend. Although it may have  a slower pace compared to Miami, this eclectic city filled with an array of unique activities  will keep visitors coming back for more. With a vibe of its own, Tampa offers adventures ranging from casinos to theme parks to museums and live entertainment, plus plenty of culinary delights to satisfy any palate.


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Words by Michelle Marie Arean.


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