exploring tampa, florida

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a month since we were cruising around the Caribbean! As I had posted a few weeks ago, before the cruise we spent time with family and friends in Clearwater. While Clearwater was our home base, we did spend a day exploring the growing city of Tampa.

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Tampa is a city that continues to grow with new restaurants, parks, and shops popping up regularly. Phil had been before but this was my first time and I absolutely fell in love. The city itself is beautiful with a striking balance of big-city-feel areas with tall metallic buildings and then pockets of parks, water, and cozy restaurants.

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We started the morning downtown with a simple breakfast at Moxies. With a sunny and 75-degree day, after walking around we decided to check out the Tampa Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a trail that winds along the Hillsborough River with restaurants, shops, benches, and areas for relaxing.

We rented bikes and biked along the path for a peaceful morning passing families, people walking dogs, and runners. I couldn’t get over all of the things to explore in the area and how lovely it was being there.

I had heard that the Tampa Art Museum was a must see so we parked our bikes and decided to visit. Although the main entrance was stunning, the art and exhibits inside left a lot to be desired and we left after only 15 minutes.

After exploring we had worked up an appetite and decided to visit Columbia for lunch after hearing rave reviews. Wow – were the reviews right! This original location was founded in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world.

The décor was beautiful, the staff friendly, and the food was incredible. We started with an order of the Cuban Black Bean Soup (which was big enough to be a meal on its own). Phil ordered the Original Cuban Sandwich which was mouthwateringly delicious and I ordered the Mojo Chicken sandwich. If you’re visiting Tampa, then this restaurant is a must!

While in Tampa we also visited the brand new outdoor Sparkman Wharf space which is right on the water. With colorfully painted buildings and funky features, this outdoor space feels fresh and fun. The main area has an outdoor bar and stage for performers. We grabbed coffees at Foundation Coffee and sat in the center of the Wharf soaking in the sun and cool ambiance.

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We left Tampa wanting more! I can’t wait until we can get back and continue exploring. I would love to know your recommendations for Tampa for next time we’re there!

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