Howdy friends! Welcome to another episode of ‘Let’s Explore the Globe!’ Traveling is one of my greatest passions–I have a refrigerator plastered with magnets from every place I have ever visited as evidence! On this week’s episode, I will be taking you along to the US Sunbelt. I have been to Florida before, Miami to be precise, twice actually, and I knew I wanted to go back to visit. Therefore, when the opportunity to go back to the Sunshine State availed itself, I jumped on board and did not look back! Approximately two weeks ago, I proceeded on my merry way to Tampa, Florida for a weekend that would include a bachelorette party. I was ready to paint the Florida Gulf Coast city red and squeeze as many memorable experiences as I could into my brief three-day stay. Are you ready to experience Tampa vicariously through me? Let’s go!
P.S. Check out highlights from my Tampa getaway here.
Where To Stay
I stayed at an Airbnb with the rest of the bachelorette party attendees. My decision was driven by the convenience and pocket-friendly nature of shared housing as opposed to paying for an individual hotel room. If you would prefer to stay at a hotel, there are tons of options to choose from within Tampa and its outskirts. I recommend Hotels.com and Booking.com for hotel reservations, as they provide the option of reserving a room online and paying later at the hotel. This comes in handy if you are still scouting for cheaper hotel options, or if you do not have all the cash needed at the time of booking. Expedia and Orbitz are also great resources for flight and hotel deals, especially so if you book both at the same time.
How to Get Around
I recommend you rent a car to give you access to full exploration of the city. The cost of Uber/Lyft or cabs would add up pretty fast, especially if you are staying in the outskirts of the city. I did not use public transportation, so I can’t speak to the convenience (or lack of) for it. But it is worth looking into if a car rental is not an option for you. Check out their public transportation here.
Where To Eat
Anise Gastrobar was a pleasant discovery in the heart of downtown Tampa. Their menu selection includes small plates and craft cocktails. You HAVE to try their tater tots- they are the best I’ve ever had! Real talk! I also enjoyed their red curry crispy chicken ‘stinky bunz’ and their pineapple mocktail
P.S. They have a cocktail called ‘Leblon James’- I was tickled pink by the name.
Located a few minutes from Tampa airport, La Teresita Restaurant is the home of authentic Cuban cuisine. They have an impressive selection of menu items including the most delectable combination of oxtails, rice, black beans, and Cuban bread. I was greatly impressed by their generous serving sizes and affordable prices. I paid approximately $11 for my meal, whose portion size would be comparable to two meals at most restaurants. I don’t know about you, but I’m all about getting the most bang for my buck.
4. Afternoon Drinks and Light Bites
Bahama Breeze is the place to be for handcrafted tropical cocktails, Caribbean-inspired entrees, and a live band belting island tunes. Did I mention it is located by the ocean? Imagine patio seating, with a breathtaking view of the sea to boot. Sweet dreams are made of this!
Dinner at Cooper Hawk Winery and Restaurant was second to none. It is a semi-upscale restaurant, so be sure to dress up if you choose to go there. I ordered the grilled Atlantic salmon, which came with sauteed spinach, potatoes, and a drizzled sweet tomato sauce. The menu is diverse with options to please pretty much any palate. Prices are moderate- my meal cost approximately $25 pre-gratuity. Bear in mind that some menu items are more costly than others; however, they in my opinion, the prices are still reasonable.
What To Do
The beach is always a good idea, wouldn’t you say? I was staying at an Airbnb in the suburbs of Tampa; however, thankfully, it was only a 30-minute drive from Clearwater Beach. It is a beautiful beach, boasting clear water that you can see through (hence the name Clearwater). Plus, I loved the fact that it was not too populated by people (at least not on the day I was there). Time at the beach is time well spent, don’t you think?
2. Evening Cruise
I had the opportunity to visit Madeira Beach and experience the Calypso Breeze sunset cruise. It lasted approximately 3 hours, and was chock-full of exciting moments including watching the sunset from the deck, buffet-style dinner, free drinks and a DJ keeping us on our feet with fan-favorite tunes. It was definitely an adventure on the ocean that I highly recommend you consider taking on. The cost for adults is $24.95 for just the cruise and free drinks and an additional $19.95 for the buffet meal. The cost for children is $14.95 plus an optional $9.95 for the buffet. Specific to parking, there is a parking garage across from the dock. Parking rates vary, so take note of that if you choose to park your vehicle there.
Tip: Carry cash for tips for the wait staff and the DJ.
Would I go back to Tampa? That would be a resounding YES! I only scratched the surface this visit- there is still so much to discover and explore. Tampa is definitely not one of those one-and-done destinations. Also, it is only about 80-minutes from Orlando, so if the spirit moves you and you are compelled to venture out to Disney World, you can easily do so. There are several other cities in Florida that I plan to visit too. Stay tuned for more travel stories in this virtual travel diary. Meanwhile, I hope I have inspired you to consider Tampa for your next getaway. Until next time, folks! Now go forth and explore the world!