It's easy to find great spots for dinner or drinks overlooking the water in Tampa Bay. The confluence of the Hillsborough River and the bay create many opportunities for a table by the water downtown. In the West Shore district, your seat offers expansive views of the bay and a gorgeous sunset over the water.
Channel District / Islands
Many of downtown's best waterfront dining lies along Garrison Channel at the mouth of the Hillsborough River. Along the northern edge of fashionable Harbour Island, you'll find stylish new hang-outs such as American Social, Blue Harbour, Jackson's Bistro & Sushi Bar, Cry Baby Cafe, WaterVüe, and Cafe Dufrain. Recently upgraded docks make it easy to drop in for dinner or a drink by boat! Or book a dinner cruise on the Yacht StarShip and enjoy a water view from every window.
Running 2.4 miles (4 km) along downtown's waterfront, the pedestrian-oriented Tampa Riverwalk connects hotels, cultural centers, parks and restaurants like gems on a string. From one end to the other, options for a water view abound. Slow your stroll and drop in at Columbia Cafe at the Tampa Bay History Center, The Sail Pavilion, River's Edge at the Sheraton Tampa Downtown, Bar WXYZ at Aloft Tampa Downtown, Malio's Steak House, Four Green Fields, Riverwalk Cafe at Tampa Museum of Art, and Maestro's at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. A special Tampa Riverwalk to-go cup lets you take your drink along as you explore the waterfront. After sunset, the Hillsborough River becomes a work of art with the shifting colors of "Agua Luces" reflecting on its surface.
A short jaunt southeast of downtown on weekends, you can savor authentic Thai tastes in the tranquil setting along the Palm River. Wat Mongkolratanaram, a Thai Buddhist temple, hosts a weekly Sunday Market that includes a variety of Thai specialties prepared by temple volunteers -- and seasoned to your liking from mild to fiery.
Old Tampa Bay
In Tampa Bay, there's no better way to spend a beautiful day than taking to the water in your boat. Located near the southwest corner of the peninsula, Hula Bay is a way station for everyone enjoying their boats -- and or landlubbers who wish they had a boat.
The Tampa Riverwalk connects this dynamic neighborhood with the heart of downtown. Pack a picnic and spread out on the green of Water Works Park. Stake your claim to the lawn at Ulele restaurant for an unforgettable sunset over the river. Choose from a dozen local food vendors at Heights Public Market at Armature Works, then enjoy your meal while you watch the boats move along the river. Bring your own boat for a trip upriver to Rick's on the River, a fun and funky hang-out with plenty of space to tie up.
Old Tampa Bay
The waters of Old Tampa Bay spread far and wide when you're settled into a cozy spot at fashionable Oystercatcher's and Armani's, both part of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, or stylish Aqua at the Westin Tampa Bay. You'll find a more laid-back vibe at Caribbean-themed Bahama Breeze or enjoy the beach at Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill. The Rusty Pelican's perch above the bay has made it a popular venue for weddings.
Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the quiet eastern edge of Tampa Bay lets you kick back with a cold drink and a dazzling view of the water stretching to the horizon. Circles Waterfront Bar is a popular spot for locals along with a way to get away from it all just a few minutes from Tampa's towers. A few minutes farther south, Sunset Grill at Little Harbor lives up to its name with dramatic vistas tucked into a beachfront resort.