Tampa, Florida is a destination that often surprises visitors with its rich history and gourmet cuisine. 48 hours can give you a good feel for the city and a taste of the Tampa lifestyle. Here are a few ways to take advantage of your time there and feel like a local:
9AM EL MOLINO
Skip the dishwater coffee at breakfast and visit this one-of-a-kind coffee shop in Ybor City. While ordering your coffee, get a first-hand glimpse (and whiff) at how the coffee is roasted, ground, and packaged. If you’re a coffee addict, don’t forget to grab a bag of beans to take home. Take your cup of Joe to go and stroll the historic streets of Ybor, the Cigar Capitol of the World until the 1930s.
10AM YBOR CITY TOUR
TAMPA, FL 33605
Explore this unique area of Tampa by signing up for a guided tour. Whether on foot, by bus, or Segway you’ll learn about murder, mystery, and maybe even encounter a ghost.
12PM LA TERRAZZA
Many would suggest taking a bite out of a giant Cuban sandwich for lunch, but Ybor offers other unique flavors. How about a true taste of Italy during your stay in Tampa? Don’t leave Ybor without tasting the delicious minestrone soup from La Terrazza. Run by an Italian family, you will be welcomed with open arms and the smell of Northern Italian classics.
2PM FLORIDA AQUARIUM
701 CHANNELSIDE DR. TAMPA, FL 33602
Tampa is home to the Florida Aquarium, a world-class tourist destination that offers everything from diving with sharks to admiring cuddly penguins. If you want to learn more about the unique ecosystem in Florida, be sure to stop by the Bays and Beaches exhibit. Say hi to the Goliath grouper, a 300-pound fish. Traveling with tots? Bring bathing suits and allow them time to channel their inner pirate while cooling down at Explore A Shore, a 2-acre water park.
5PM TAPS RESTAURANT BAR & LOUNGE
It’s happy hour! Head back to downtown Tampa for a drink at TAPS Restaurant Bar & Lounge. Whether you’re a wine lover or beer buff, this place is sure to have something to please the palate. If it’s a Friday or Saturday evening, you might luck out and catch a local band playing. Looking for a bite to hold you over until dinner? Order the Scottish Oak Smoked Salmon Platter for the table.
9AM DON PAN
Grab a café con leche and a cheese arepa at Don Pan, a Venezuelan bakery on Dale Mabry. Not into over-the-top sweet coffee? Don’t forget to order it sin azúcar (no sugar)! Enjoy the arepa in-house while it’s steaming fresh, but grab your coffee and get a running start for the day.
12PM TAMPA THEATER
711 N. FRANKLIN ST. TAMPA, FL 33602
Tour time! It’s time to visit the theater. No, you’re not going to see a play or movie. You’re going to experience an architectural delight. Built in 1926, the Tampa Theater is still a centerpiece of the local culture. Outside, the theater appears unimposing, but walk inside and you are transported to a romantic Mediterranean courtyard with statues, flowers, and gargoyles. For $5, this tour is a bargain.
1PM THAI THANI
When you’re ready for a history break, head to Channelside for lunch and shopping. Tampa offers a number of scrumptious Thai restaurants and Thai Thani definitely tops the list. The décor makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a room of the Royal Palace in Thailand. The yellow curry is fit for a king.
3PM TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER
801 OLD WATER ST. TAMPA, FL 33602
Love history? Didn’t get enough in Ybor City or the theater? The Tampa Bay History Center brings it all together in interactive, high tech exhibits. Besides a deeper understanding of cigar making, you’ll also explore how both the European and Native American cultures impacted the Tampa Bay area. Before you go, check their website for special exhibits or tours.
5PM INTERNATIONAL PLAZA
You have dinner reservations in a few hours, so it’s time to pick out that cocktail dress or sport coat. International Plaza offers very chic shopping. Whether you’re looking for elegance at Louis Vuitton or a department store bargain, this is one of Tampa’s best shopping destinations. Besides, you’ll appreciate the air conditioning.
2208 W. MORRISON AVE. TAMPA, FL 33606
The perfect end to dynamic trip; dress to impress, take your time (allow for a minimum of 3 hours), and enjoy the flavors of the night. Skip the regular menu in favor of the six course Tasting Menu with a wine flight. Each bite deserves to be savored and imprinted in your memory forever. It’s a truly unique experience for foodies. Don’t leave Tampa without eating here.
WHERE TO STAY: THE WESTIN TAMPA HARBOUR ISLAND
725 S. HARBOUR ISLAND BLVD. TAMPA, FL 33602
The Westin Tampa Harbour Island is located on an island on the harbor in downtown Tampa and is close to all downtown activities. This hotel has all the amenities you need including an outdoor pool, fitness center, two restaurants and a bar.