Ask Tampa Bay | What To Do In Tampa Bay?

Dear OITB,

I live in Texas and am bringing my boyfriend home to Tampa to meet my parents next week. I’m not too worried about the meet and greet since my parents are awesome, but I haven’t lived in Tampa in a really long time and I don’t know what to do for fun or to show off the city to my bf. I have been talking Tampa up for so long I don’t want to disappoint! We are planning at least one beach day but I’m at a loss for the rest of the trip! Please help!

-Texas to Tampa



Margeaux Says: Welcome home! You’ve come to the perfect place for help with your travel itinerary. I think one of the biggest changes that Tampa has undergone in the past ten years is our growing craft beer scene. We’ve got Angry Chair, Southern Brewing, Cigar City, Coppertail, Two Henrys, 3 Daughters, Green Bench, Motor Works, Barley Mow, and more! I think a craft beer pub crawl is definitely in order, but Roy will have more details about that. For suggestions about dining, Rusty’s got the goods, but I think you should make some time to visit Ulele for dinner (make reservations) and the Columbia for lunch. While you’re down in Ybor, take him to some of the cigar places on 7th and pick him up a nice stogie. Dudes love that shit. I really like to take people to the Tampa Theatre when they come visit because it’s a unique and fun. I also think the new Dali Museum is impressive if he’s into art. Finally, for outdoorsy activities I think the beach is an excellent choice. I like Ft. De Soto because it’s got more wildlife and fewer people. You should also plan a canoeing trip down the Hillsborough River or visit Tree-umpth, an elevated adventure course in Bradenton. Lastly, make sure you set aside some time to show him some of your old stomping grounds: where you went to school, your favorite restaurant, and the neighborhood you grew up in. Give him a real sense of where you come from. Have fun and let us know how it goes!


Rion Says: Well, well, well. Look who decided to come crawling back! They always do. Or not at all. Anyways! One of the best places to take a new lover is Nebraska Avenue. You don’t need to make reservations, as it is ALWAYS open for business, ready and willing for a hot night on the town. Or maybe just the back of your car. Who knows! But seriously, Tampa is rife with many a culture (possibly more so than your last trek here). I would say hit up the Straz Center, where you can check out one of Jobsite Theater‘s amazing productions, or perhaps to see JAY LENO LIVE . If you want to check out some unique bars, restaurants, or places to shop, then Seminole Heights is the place to be. Check out A Modern Line for mid century modern delights, Frolic Exchange for vintage clothing,  Mermaid Tavern for some beers/wines, as well as The Independent (that recently rebuilt their front porch after a psychotic drove into it.) Adventures! Happy Tampa-ing, traitor. I kid, I kid. I’m just hurt that Texas has you, and Florida doesn’t.


Roy Says: You already hit the main one. The beach. I’m not a fan of it, but for some reason people go crazy for it. I’d suggest picking up a few cigars from Nicahabana in Ybor. Then grabbing a sixer of something nice from one of the many amazing local St. Pete breweries, Green Bench or 3 Daughters to name a few. Then hit the beach. Honestly I have a feeling you may not be able to take part in any of those activities on the beach anymore. Thanks Obama. So maybe save those for relaxing by a pool. Other than boozing and smoking the only other thing I can recommend is sports. The Lightning are real hot right now and always a great time. I hope your man is as impressed by Tampa as he should be. Good luck. Oh! Strip clubs. Tampa is lousy with strip clubs.


Rusty Says: What to do in Tampa, eh? Hmm… well, I guess it kind of depends on what you mean when you say you haven’t lived in Tampa in “a really long time”. If you mean you moved out to Texas BEFORE the super-intelligent armadillos rose up and took over the majority of North Tampa, then you’re in for a hell of a surprise! Things have taken a turn for the worse here since then, and when the water supply ran out in ’12 we lost a lot of local businesses (and good people). So even though a lot of the buildings are still in the same places like you remember, many of them are not in use, and a handful are armadillo no-go zones. Best to avoid any structures with an X crudely clawed into the walls. Otherwise, things are pretty much the same as when you left. I’d recommend hitting up Q-Zar and grabbing a hot dog at Mel’s.


Nicole Says: See a movie at the Tampa Theatre, go eat tacos at the ORIGINAL Taco Bus on Hillsborough, then go to the Independent for drinks. BAM. So hip. Take that, Texas.


Need Advice? Ask Tampa Bay!

Disclaimer: Literally nothing qualifies us to give you advice on anything…ever. However, don’t let this deter you. What we can offer are several unique personalities, an impressive cache of real-life and media-based experience, and our mothers.

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