3 Days in…Tampa: Down by the River Is a New Riverwalk Development

Revived neighborhoods, a vibrant arts scene, and a city-wide commitment to farm-to-table are why this city warrants rediscovery

Wild Dolphin Cruise Aquarium

The past few years have brought a number of changes to Florida's Bayfront city, including revived neighborhoods, a growing arts scene, locally sourced produce, and of course the 2.4-mile Riverwalk, which will be completed this spring.


9:30 AM                     
Start your day with a tour of 20,000 marine and sealife exhibits, possibly ending with an eco-friendly Wild Dolphin Cruise on the Florida Aquarium's 72-foot catamaran, Bay Spirit II. 

1:00 PM                     
The aquarium is at the east end of the Riverwalk, which parallels the Hillsborough River as it runs through downtown. Stroll, bike, or Segway past the Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Convention Center, Amalie Arena (home of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning), the Tampa Museum of Art, and the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

6:00 PM                      
The Riverwalk will deposit you at Ulele, a very trendy new restaurant that prepares fresh, local foods with a Native American-inspired flavor on a 10-foot barbacoa grill.


10:00 AM                         
Make your way to the increasingly popular Ybor City. The immigrant neighborhood is now one of Florida's two National Historic Landmark Districts. Wander around Tampa's Latin Quarter, then take the 90-minute Cigar Industry History Tour, being sure to pick up some hand-rolled stogies along the way. 

1:00 PM                           
Get your shopping on at International Plaza & Bay Street, Tampa Bay's poshest shopping center, featuring brands like Nordstrom, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co.

9:00 PM                                      
Head back to Ybor City and visit Columbia, a Spanish-Cuban restaurant owned and operated by the same family for 110 years. Then stroll out into the night and follow your ears to one of the neighborhood's many bars and nightclubs in Tampa's Latin Quarter.


9:00 AM
Get out on the water. Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough River offer a wide variety of water sports and activities at whatever speed attendees prefer. These range from downstream canoeing and paddleboarding to speedboat rentals and fishing charters. 

8:00 PM
Head over to Tampa's newest "it" neighborhood, Seminole Heights, where local chef Greg Baker recently opened Fodder & Shine, a celebration of the Florida Cracker cuisine (which refers to the original English and American pioneers of Florida).

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This article appears in the March 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.