Three Days in Tampa, Florida - What to Do With Limited Time

It feels weird to write this post in the current environment, but I've been holding off for months and I'm ready to share more ...

It feels weird to write this post in the current environment, but I've been holding off for months and I'm ready to share more about my trip to Tampa at the start of March. I was there with some pals for a work conference, and wanted to share what we got up to during some of the last normal days of 2020.

We didn't do a ton during our time there. Conferencing can definitely be pretty exhausting. But we did eat some good food, and we had a really relaxing time during our last day there, when we had almost six hours between leaving the hotel and getting to the airport.

Day one.

On the first day, we arrived just in time for a late lunch, and boy, were we all just starving. We hopped over to Urban Cantina, which was just a block from our hotel and by this cute little green space. The place is very small and decorated with a quirky luchador theme. You can even buy the masks! I got three tacos - a fish (always my favorite!), a carnitas, and a carne asada. I grabbed a cup of street corn on the side, too (it's on the "warm ups" menu).

For dinner, we took a stroll just over the bridge to dine at Jackson's Bistro. It's gorgeous and just on the water. (Sidenote: I wore jeans and a cardigan, and I felt quite underdressed.) I was in the mood for something simple, so I got the steakhouse burger and the fancy tropical martini that was the special of the evening. Even the walk back was a beautiful display of the city skyline peppered with palm trees.


Day two.

Even though we had access to coffee and pastries free at the conference site, one of my favorite things to do when traveling is try local coffee shops. We hopped over to Buddy Brew Coffee (just across from our hotel), and it was so delicious. The coffee was smooth, buttery, and chocolatey. They even have this wild coffee drink called the buddy brew screw that's espresso and grapefruit. You have the grapefruit first because of how it impacts metabolism, thus extending the power and length of the caffeine in the espresso. I skipped on it because grapefruit negatively interacts with one of my medications, but it sounded so intriguing. So if you try it out, let me know how it is! I also had a chocolate croissant

For dinner, we hiked over to Sparkman Wharf. It's an outside space right on the water with a food trucks in shipping containers, a biergarten, and even apartments. Unfortunately, they're closed on Mondays. Luckily, the one anchor restaurant there was open, so our adventure wasn't wasted. We took Water Street for the walk over, and the Tampa sign is just there beside the Wharf.

So for dinner, we had Splitsville - bar part, part bowling alley. I had the funky chicken sandwich and the frozen white russian.

Day three.

We were lucky with our last day. The conference ended by noon, but our flight wasn't until after 6 pm. So we hopped on the free trolley and rode back over to Sparkman Wharf. We were each able to grab whatever we wanted to eat, have some beers and drinks, and chill by the water. It was the perfect day - warm but breezy. It was the most beautiful, peaceful day. (And I'm so glad, because obviously the world flipped upside down about a week later with COVID.)

I had iced lavender coffee and macarons at the Blind Tiger.

For lunch, I ate at Boat Run Oyster Company. I got one of each type of oyster they had - I'll be honest, I know nothing about oysters, but the guy was really nice and explained the different types and the locations they come from and the flavor notes of the different kinds. I also got the fish tacos (again) and the guy was nice enough to give me some free nori fries.

I also had a few different drinks from the Fermented Reality Biergarten, and wow - they were delicious. I love a great local craft beer.

What a relaxing way to spend the last few days before the shelter-in-place. I will say we were in the downtown area the entire time, so we didn't get the full scope of the Tampa area. I would have loved to explore the actual bay area more. But I did enjoy the time we had. I would highly recommend the Wharf, if nothing else!

Have you ever been to Tampa? What was your favorite thing about the area?

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