PART TWO: TAMPA BAY
There’s some trips where you just go with the flow. Usually on my short trips, I prefer an itinerary, just to make sure I leave feeling like I touched on some key places. So I’m covering all things FABS- Food, Arts, Beach, Shopping.
FOOD: There have been some recent additions to the food scene in Tampa- food halls. We’ve seen them popping up all over the world and I’d heard so many good things about the 2 in Tampa.
The Hall on Franklin appeared to be the more formal of the 2- and I mean that in a good way. Smaller in size and serving a diverse menu (Korean, Italian, Mexican, Hawaiian, American and more) from 7 different restaurants, I knew this had to be on my list. Very beautifully decorated space, with rich brown leathers accompanied by brass and gold accents, the space felt modern and welcoming. We ordered a little something from every restaurant and unlike most food halls, you get table service. If I could have the poke everyday, I would. The pizza, avocado bruschetta and pork buns were the other standouts.
On the other end we have Armature Works. Armature works is more than a food hall- it is a mixed use building of event and work spaces, restaurants and the Heights Public Market. The Height Public Market includes some shopping and the food hall. I adore the space and you could kill an entire afternoon here. This is definitely the more casual environment of the two and there’s self-serve, get your own tray, clean up after yourself. And this works in the best of ways. Here again we wanted to sample a little of everything and the surprising highlights for me were the ramen and the pizza.
ART: There were so many options here, from the Museum of Photographic arts to the Straz Center for performing arts. We chose to visit the Tampa Museum of Art and it couldn’t have been a more perfect time. Due to the Gasparilla Arts festival, all fees were waived (our hotel also had free cultural passes to museums- always ask). The museum is just perfect for an afternoon tour and you can get a little bite at the souvenir shop and cafe. It’s a new building (debuted in 2010) and I have to say best seen at night, when it lights up. They exhibit modern and contemporary art as well as some antiquities. While there, they had an exhibit that included Greek and Roman pottery as well as a modern exhibit showcasing the work of Robert Indiana.
BEACH: Literally the day we landed, it was announced that Clearwater Beach was voted the best beach in the country. So I knew we were making the short 40 minute drive to check it out. Ok folks- why are you all, always flocking to Miami, and how didn’t I know about this sooner. This is what a beach looks like- the whitest softest sand beach, beautiful coral and blue resorts on one side, palm trees lining the middle and the blue ocean on the other. The weather was perfect, the breeze was delicious and I could have stayed so much longer- there’ll definitely be a next time.
Ybor city is known for its history, founded in the 1880’s and populated mostly by immigrants from Cuba, Spain and Italy. Today you can see those influences in the architecture, the food and the shops. It’s an excellent place to eat, drink(tons of bars), walk but also for some vintage and unique shopping finds.
Hyde Park is a lot different, I would say more high-end brands with a lot of recognizable names like Anthropologie, Lululemon, West Elm.but there were also plenty of boutiques and small cafes that I wasn’t previously familiar with, which I loved. I actually found my best new spot here- Bohohunter. I also think what makes this a worthwhile stop is the beautiful outdoor layout which allows for plenty of instagrammable moments.
In brief, below is my complete ITINERARY for the 3 days
- Arrive at Tampa Airport
- Armature Works: Food and Shopping
- Settle into Hotel room- Le Meridien Tampa
- Evening stroll on the Tampa Riverwalk, hop on water taxi
- Closeout the night at Franklin Manor
- Hotel Breakfast
- Early morning Drive to Clearwater for Beach time
- Clearwater Beach: Beach and Shopping
- On the return Drive- stop at Ben T Davis Beach
- Check out Bahama Breeze or Whiskey joe’s for Caribbean inspired food & drink
- Hotel to Relax
- Closeout at The Hall on Franklin
- Breakfast grab at Farmacy Vegan Kitchen
- Tampa Museum of Art
- A walk through Ybor City
- Shopping at Hyde Park Village
- Drive to Airport for Evening Flight Back to NYC
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