Visiting Tampa had been on my list of things to do for years. On paper, it looked like a great place to visit: perfect climate, near the ocean, surrounded by water, cultural and family-friendly activities, and alternative dining options. Recently, I got a chance to find out whether it was as inviting in person as it was in my mind. Luckily for me, Tampa turned out to be better than I expected!
Where to go
Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) will be one of the highlights of your trip. Not only is it fun for all ages, but with over 450 activities to explore, you can spend a whole day in there and still not see everything. Our favorite exhibit was the outdoor SkyTrail Ropes Course.
Those seeking a bit of the Old South should take a stroll under the Spanish moss-strewn oak trees and peruse the shops and eateries in Old Hyde Park.
And there’s no point being this close to some of Florida’s prettiest beaches without visiting them. A lazy Sunday-like drive up the coast is a must-do on this trip. Point your car south and start out in the adorable Gulf Coast beach community of Pass-a-Grille Beach and slowly wind your way north through all the other cute coastal communities you’ll encounter along the way. Be sure to check out the pristine white sands of the famed Clearwater Beach, stop for lunch at Casa Tina Mexican restaurant in Dunedin, and end your day checking out the rich Greek culture in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Had enough of the beach? The area also features several cool malls like the Shops at Wiregrass in nearby Wesley Chapel or the charming Westfield Citrus Park Mall.
Where to Eat
Evos, smack dab in historic Old Hyde Park at 609 South Howard Avenue, is the healthiest burger joint around. Queen of Sheba, located at 3636 Henderson Boulevard, offers exquisite Ethiopian cuisine and even features gluten-free injera.
Gourmet Pizza Company, located at 610 South Armenian, offers delicious pizza including vegan and gluten-free options. The Royal Palace Thai restaurant and sushi bar, located at 811 South Howard Avenue, has a fresh and tasty tofu entrees like the Mixed Vegetable with Tofu dish.
And my favorite, Lime Mexican Grill located at 1824 North Westshore Boulevard, features fresh, tasty and budget-friendly Mexican fast food. Tampa is also home to a Loving Hut restaurant.
Where to shop
Whole Foods, located at 1584 North Dale Mabry Highway, is conveniently located near everything and has all of your grocery shopping needs. And, of course, a Walmart Supercenter is just around the corner at 1505 North Dale Mabry Highway.