Tampa was on the shortlist of places we thought about moving before ultimately deciding on Jacksonville. Our first visit was in 2013 and we bounced around spending time in Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. We visited again for my birthday in 2018.
One of our favorite stops during our visit was the Florida Aquarium. We did the Behind the Scenes Tour allowing us to get a Birdseye view of the large aquarium. It was really cool. The sharks and stingrays would swim to the surface so we actually got to see them from a really close distance. We also got to feed penguins and learn about the different species that call this place home.
We spent a few hours enjoying Bayshore Blvd view. The homes on this street are spectacular. Another favorite was the Sail Pavilion and Riverwalk. This is a really fun area to grab dinner and drinks. The city views are fantastic. We grabbed a drink and watched the sunset before dining at Jackson’s Bistro Bar and Sushi.
We made a quick visit to The Tampa Museum of Art. It is small, but it had some special pieces.
No trip to Tampa is complete without a stop in Ybor City and of course the world-famous Columbia Restaurant. The atmosphere is super fun and the food is outstanding. We also had a chance to check out some of the nearby breweries and bars making stops at Cigar City Cider and Mead and a few places that had live music. We stopped by Coppertail Brewing too, which is just outside of the Ybor City district.
Just outside of Tampa is the Big Cat Rescue. This place is awesome! We did the early morning feeding tour. It was insane to see these cats destroy their ‘prey’ cutting through chicken bones in one fell swoop. It was also very interesting to learn that several of the cats are in the ‘witness protection program.’ The sanctuary owners didn’t know anything about these cats as they were in the midst of litigation. It mind-blowing to think that someone somewhere thinks a jaguar or tiger would make a good pet. (That’s how many of them end up there.)
St. Petersburg is our favorite place to visit in the area. I am a huge Salvador Dali fan and the The Dali Museum is outstanding. There are several of my favorite pieces on display. The location is great too – right on the bay which provided an amazing backdrop for the outdoor art on display.
Another favorite is Mazzaro’s Italian Market. This place is always packed! But for good reason. It’s an Italian market and deli so you can pick up fresh made pasta and imported olive oil while also getting one of the best Italian sandwiches ever! We also enjoyed some local brews at 3 Daughter’s Brewing and Green Bench.
It’s no surprise where Clearwater gets its name – the water is absolutely stunning! While the beach is gorgeous, there isn’t a whole lot to do in the area so we didn’t spend very much time there.
Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater are so close to each other that you can easily see all three during a weekend trip.