That pounding sound filling the air this weekend is the beating of the hearts of thousands of women’s basketball fans as they converge on Tampa Bay for the 2015 NCAA Women’s Final Four. Outside the confines of Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay buzzes with adventure and fun – all within easy reach of the arena.
The final major leg of the Riverwalk opened March 27, creating an unbroken 2.5-mile pedestrian thoroughfare along Tampa Bay’s sparkling waterfront. Starting outside the gates of Amalie Arena, you can run, walk or stroll north to Water Works Park and Ulele restaurant at the other end. Anyone wanting to move a little faster can rent a two-wheeler from Coast Bike Share – just sign up on their website for access, and be sure to ring the bell when you sneak up on those slow-pokes.
Tampa Bay’s historic Latin Quarter offers quirky shops, laid-back lunches and Cuban café con leche during the day. At night, the mood shifts to pulsing nightclubs, drag shows and rock bands. Hand-rolled cigars – a reminder of Tampa Bay’s history as the Cigar Capital of the World – are available any time. Hop the TECO Historic Streetcar downtown (there’s a stop right outside Amalie Arena) and go explore one of the most unique neighborhoods in America. While you’re there, try dinner at the Columbia Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. The flamenco dancing is excellent.
Make the most of your visit to Tampa Bay with Tampa Bay CityPASS, which gets you into four of our biggest attractions for a single discounted price. Plunge to earth on Busch Gardens’ Falcon’s Fury, come face-to-face with manatees at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, touch a sting ray at the Florida Aquarium and test your courage on the ropes course at the Museum of Science and Industry. And do it all for $99 for adults, $84 for kids.
Eat and drink
Located at the northern end of the Tampa Riverwalk, Ulele Native-Inspired Food & Spirits takes its inspiration from the food Florida’s original natives would have thrived on for centuries: oysters of all types, seafood, grass-fed beef and vegetarian dishes. Wash them all down with Ulele’s own beer, brewed in-house, and top them off with Ulele’s premier dessert – Candied Duck Bacon Maple Fried Ice Cream. A stroll in nearby Water Works Park and a view of sunset from the patio make the visit complete. Explore your food fantasies further with a trip to the hipster haven of Seminole Heights just north of downtown for a taste of Cracker cuisine at Fodder & Shine. The restaurant by James Beard-nominated chef Greg Baker focuses on food Florida's settlers ate between the Civil War and World War II. Just about anywhere you eat in town, you'll find Cigar City beer on tap. Tampa Bay's award-winning home-grown craft brewer builds its flavors around local history and culture -- try the beer flavored with Cuban espresso beans. Visit the tasting room for a little first-hand discovery. With more than a dozen craft brewers, Tampa Bay has quickly become a hub for brewing in Florida and a hot spot nationwide.
Tampa Museum of Art
Perched above the Hillsborough River and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Tampa Museum of Art houses a collection of ancient Greek and Roman art along with modern masters like Roy Lichtenstein. At the moment, the museum hosts American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, a traveling show featuring 100 works by a man whose portraits, magazine covers and Depression-era works secured his spot in American culture.