I was lucky enough to have Tampa be one of the places my dad was stationed and this is where I went to university so it is definitely a sentimental place I always love to visit!
How We Got There
We flew our typical airline, Southwest Airlines, because as I've mentioned before Bjorn uses this airline for all his business trips (which are often) so we always fly with them stateside for all our travel. We never pay for our tickets! Plus Southwest is super generous with those free drink coupons so if you are looking for an airline to stay loyal to for points, I would definitely recommend Southwest! (And those two free bags y'all)
Where We Stayed
I'm lucky enough to have family living in Tampa that we stay with when we visit, but the one place I've always wanted to stay at is the Don Cesar in St. Pete, which is a beautiful pink castle on the beach! This hotel dates back a century when it was a hospital during the war but is now an updated, high end hotel with multiple restaurants, shops, and an amazing view of the beach!
What We Did
- Going out on South Howard
This has been something I've loved to do since I lived here! South Howard (SoHo) has amazing restaurants and fun bars and clubs all within a few blocks of downtown Tampa. EVERY time we are back we always hit up Kotos, a Japanese hibachi restaurant and then World of Beer across the street where they keep in stock all the good German stuff. Whatever you like or are into, you can find it on SoHo!
- Hockey (and every other sport!)
I don't think it is much of a secret that I am a huge hockey fan (go Bolts!) and we were lucky enough to be visiting at the time when the Tampa Bay Lightning were having their first game of the season in Tampa! Hockey is so fast and exciting, but if it isn't for you Tampa also has a football, baseball, and soccer team so there is always someone to cheer for!
- Bayshore Blvd
Bayshore Blvd is a street/sidewalk that runs along the water and downtown Tampa. I used to live off Bayshore and I always loved walking it during the sunset. You can always find people working out or rollerblading and it is just always super busy. Sometimes you can hear people refer to it as "Babeshore", so it's not bad for people watching either. ;)
- Ybor City
Ybor City is a part of Tampa known for it's Cuban influence and cigar manufacturing. It's definitely seen a big change even since I moved away, being more "hipster" and having more of a nightlife. We enjoyed walking down the main street and watching people in the windows of cigar shops making cigars right in front of us! Afterwards we stopped for a drink at Bernini!
- Top Golf
The first and only place where I've tried Top Golf is Tampa! It's a fun thing to do with friends where everyone can just play and have snacks and drinks. I've never played golf before trying this but Top Golf is really just a chill, no pressure thing to do!
Sadly we didn't make it to Datz this trip, but Datz is an AMAZING restaurant in downtown Tampa that is known for curated menus and great craft beers. They also recently opened Datz Dough which is supposed to be a great bakery we will have to try next time!
- Beach day at Don Cesar
Even though I have never stayed at the Don Cesar overnight, we come here every time to enjoy the beach! We usually stop first the their restaurant/outdoor patio for a drink or two before heading right out the back of the patio onto the beach. They also offer nice lounges and chairs to rent for a more luxurious beach day.
- International Plaza
This is not just any mall. When I lived in Tampa I was here at least once a week! It's a higher end, luxury mall with pretty much any store you could imagine + a nice outdoor plaza area with a number of restaurants. One of my favorite places in Tampa to spend a couple hours!
- Things we didn't have time for but are also a blast: Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium, Sarasota Ringling Museum, touring University of Tampa (beautiful old university), Gasparilla (famous Mardi Gras-esque parade during February!)
Gas, housing, food...almost everything is cheaper in Florida! (compared to Cali that is...)
- Warm the entire year
There is truthfully only a couple of days out of the year that go under 70.
- Young city
With multiple universities, this a very young city with so much to do (and so many places to party!)
- Variety of activities
Because Florida is such a popular tourist destination, there is really so much to do for anybody!
In all honesty, Florida is SO much less enjoyable May-August. Go another time when the humidity and heat die down.
Hubby can speak more to this, as he is the human mosquito magnet, but expect to wear bug spray all day e'ry day.
- Typical Florida Crazy
No hate to Florida, but doesn't it seem like every hard to believe news story comes out Florida? Expect to see some loco.
Live for luxury? No trust fund, no problem!
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- Marie Claire, September 2016