Best Things to do in Tampa Florida for a Weekend Getaway
Last Updated on November 27, 2021 by Dana Berez
Things to do in Tampa
The Tampa Bay region is one of the fastest-growing destinations in Florida with new beautiful new hotels, hip restaurants, and a beautiful waterfront. Ask any local, and they’ll tell you about the changes Tampa has seen within just a few years- empty spaces are now turning into dining concepts, bars, and outdoor fun.
In this post, I’m dishing out the best things to do in Tampa Florida for a weekend getaway. Plus, I’ll give more travel tips for this cool destination like where to stay, eat, and more!
And if you’re a foodie, get excited. Tampa has award-winning restaurants, incredible dining options throughout the city, and is a hub of craft beer brewing in the state of Florida.
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Where is Tampa Florida
Tampa Florida is located on the Gulf side of Florida in the center of the state. Its neighboring major cities are St. Petersburg and Orlando Florida.
How to get to Tampa Florida?
Plane: You can fly directly into Tampa International Airport (TBI) which is just a 14-minute drive to Downtown Tampa. Check for cheap flights.
Drive: You can also drive directly into downtown Tampa from neighboring cities. Clearwater to Tampa is just a 35-minute drive, and Orlando to Tampa is a 1 hour and 20-minute drive.
Read my Clearwater/ St. Petersburg Guide: Best Things to do in St Petersburg / Clearwater Florida
Things to do in Tampa Florida
Visit Sparkman Wharf
Located right on Water Street, Sparkman Wharf is a new outdoor hub with incredible views of the city. It features a dining garden, Biergarten, recreational lawn, restaurants, shops, and loft-style office spaces making it a perfect spot to wind down & relax in Tampa.
Live music plays over the weekend, along with other fun events during the week. Plus, parking is available on site.
1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Here’s another foodie recommendation: check out Armature Works. Here you’ll find dining options from top chefs and restauranteurs in the Bay Area with communal seating. This is a great place to try all kinds of delicious bites when in Tampa. Plus, the interior is gorgeous!
420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606
Oxford Exchange is a very hip concept located nearby the University of Tampa. Housed in a historic building, inside you’ll find a gift shop, coffee shop, bookstore, Champagne Bar, Warby Parker, Oxford Exchange restaurant, co-working space, and event space.
P.S. the gift shop is definitely worth checking out. There were so many things I would have bought (if only I had room in my suitcase!) You’ll find niche candles, local Florida Goods, coffee table books, home decor, beauty & more!
Learn to Stand Up Paddle
Armature Works, 310 W 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602
Take a Stand-Up Paddle lesson from Urban Kai located in Downtown Tampa! If you are new to paddleboarding (like I was) you’ll learn from the best instructors that make you feel comfortable on the water. This activity is perfect for complete beginners or those who’ve been on a board before.
The tour takes you along the Tampa waterfront and gives you amazing views, a little exercise, and you’ll be able to spot some Florida wildlife!
You can also rent paddleboards and check out the schedule to see what specialty classes are happening.
Walk Along the Tampa Waterfront
A great way to see Tampa on foot is to walk along the waterfront for great downtown views! Start at Armature Works and make your way down the Hillsborough River to Sparkman Wharf. You’ll see some waterfront restaurants, scenic views, and some Florida wildlife.
Discover Ybor City
Ybor City, pronounced ee-bor, is a historic neighborhood just outside of downtown Tampa. Named after, Vicente Martínez e Ybor, who founded his cigar empire in Tampa in 1886!
To see the best of Ybor City, you can take an immersive walking tour around to learn more about the history of the Cuban and Latin influence of this historic neighborhood. But, if you do solo- be sure to stroll down 7th Avenue for cute shops & dining while you’re there.
Shop & Dine at International Plaza
Located just outside Downtown Tampa is Tampa Bay’s premier shopping mall, International Plaza includes a mix of luxury brands & favorites like Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Nordstrom, and unique store experiences like Tesla & Peloton.
After some serious shopping, you can walk outside the mall on Bay Street where you find indoor/ outdoor dining along the pedestrian street. If you’re in the mood for dessert, you have to order the Whiskey Cake from Whiskey Cake. Read more on Tampa Restaurants.
See a Lightning Game at Amalie Arena
One thing is for sure, the Locals are huge fans of the local Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Team, which won the Stanley cup in 2020. If you’re lucky, you can see them in action at Amalie Arena which features lightning-throwing Tesla coils and a huge Bud Light Party Deck with amazing views of the city.
Even if you aren’t into hockey, the energy from the fans and the excitement of the game are definitely worth looking into!
Check to see what’s happening at Amalie Arena.
Spa Day at JW Spa
Treat yourself to a Spa treatment at JW Marriott. This new spa features 10 treatment rooms and specializes in facials, massages, body wraps, manicures, pedicures, and eye & lip treatments.
Even More Things to Do in Tampa
- Busch Gardens: Save 54% with the Tampa Pass
- Florida Aquarium: Save 54% with the Tampa Pass
- ZOOTampa at Lowry Park: Save 54% with the Tampa Pass
Getting Around Tampa Florida
Do you need a rental car?
One of the great things about visiting Tampa Florida is you don’t need a rental car!
If you are staying in Downtown Tampa everything is walkable, plus there are great public transportation options:
- TECO Streetcar: A great way to get around Downtown Tampa is using the TECO Streetcars. These streetcars are easy to spot and are FREE to ride. Just hop on & off as you see them. Check the full map for details.
- Pirate Water Taxi: You can get around Tampa via the Pirate Water Taxi. A full day unlimited pass is $25 and the Water Taxi takes you along the entire Hillsborough River. This is also a great way to see Tampa from a unique perspective on water. Tickets can be purchased onboard or online.
- Ride Share: of course, if you needed to get anywhere outside of the downtown area, you can always use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft.
If you do arrive by car, everything within Tampa is either a 5 to 15-minute drive with free parking spots on the streets. I was so surprised at how little traffic there was in Downtown Traffic, so if you do have a car it’s not a hard place to get around.
However, hotel overnight parking fees may apply.
Where to Stay in Tampa Florida
510 Water Street, Tampa, FL 33602
JW Marriott Tampa is the newest luxury hotel located right in the center of all the action right on Water Street with amazing views of Tampa Bay.
Opened in 2020, the JW Marriott has a modern & sophisticated design with a full-service spa and fitness center, a rooftop pool and sun terrace, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, and a rooftop lounge with direct views of the waterfront!
Because of all the amenities, it’s hard to leave the hotel- making it the perfect home base for a full relaxing getaway in Tampa!
If you’re looking to fully unwind, look into the Superior Corner Spa room. You’ll never want to leave the oversized bathroom complete with an XL soaking tub with floor-to-ceiling views of Tampa.
More options in Downtown Tampa:
Marriott Tampa Water Street: Located directly across the street from the JW Marriott, the renovated Marriott Tampa is another great option to stay in Tampa. The location is within walking distance to the waterfront & Sparkman Wharf and is complete with a rooftop pool.
Le Meridien: Another option is Le Meridien, a contemporary boutique hotel located in the historic century-old Federal Courthouse.
Best Restaurants in Tampa
15 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
The Battery is Tampa’s latest restaurant located in Sparkman Wharf. This restaurant features a bourbon-focused menu featuring 110 whiskeys! The menu features prime-cut steaks, homemade pasta, great appetizers like Cauliflower bites, tasty cheese & meat plates, and bourbon-glazed salmon.
1810 N Highland Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602
Located right on the waterfront of the Hillsborough River, Ulele features a menu inspired by the early Tampa Bay’s native & Spanish explorers. This restaurant has a unique location as it’s located in Tampa’s original public water pump house that supplied water to the region.
Now you’ll find a trendy interior, its own craft brewery on site, and a spacious patio (which is a great spot for sunset)
Oder: Some menu specialties include seared sea scallops, lobster mac and cheese, lobster sandwich, gulf grouper sandwich, and desserts you won’t want to miss!
420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606
Dine inside Oxford Exchange for either Breakfast or Lunch. The menu includes all your brunch favorites and you’ll dine in a trendy sunlight space.
Oder: The poppy-seed pancakes & the avocado fingers were a hit
2223 N Westshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33607
Serving farm-to-table dishes & cocktails, everything at Whiskey Cake is made from scratch using slow cooking methods.
Oder: The Whiskey Cake is a must-order, it’s a warm cake (not too sweet) topped with fresh whipped cream so be sure to save room for dessert!
510 Water Street, Tampa FL 33602
The menu features local favorites like the grouper burger, lobster mac & cheese, and a lengthy list of signature cocktails.
More Restaurants to check out:
- On Swann: Serving modern American local food in a trendy open eatery.
- Sal Y Mar: Beautiful rooftop with tapas menu
Best Time to Visit Tampa
If you are looking for good weather, heading to Tampa in winter, early spring, and fall are the best. You’ll find pleasant weather during the months of January through May, and October through December.
The warmest months are from May through September, with a lot of humidity!
What to Pack for Florida
Depending on when you are visiting here are some things you should pack for your trip to Florida:
Fall, Winter, Spring:
Check out my other Florida Posts Below:
St. Petersburg/Clearwater: Best Things to do in St Petersburg / Clearwater Florida
Jacksonville: Jacksonville Florida Travel Guide & Things to do
Have you been to Tampa? Let me know below if you have any questions.
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This post is in partnership with Visit Tampa Bay. All opinions are my own.