The coast of Florida may be known for its beaches, and while Tampa is close to some of the best in the country, sun and sand aren’t all the city has to offer. Chances are good that you’ll want to check out the water, as well as some of the local attractions like Busch Gardens, Lowry Park Zoo, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), and the nearby Dali Museum in St. Pete. Once you’ve explored the popular spots, visit these local restaurants, shopping destinations, and day spas to experience Tampa only the way a local can.
If you ask a local where you can have an amazing meal and an authentic experience in Tampa, almost everyone would say at the Columbia Restaurant. In the community since 1905, the Columbia is known for their incredible, authentic Cuban food, their family atmosphere, and some of the best Flamenco dancing around. Be sure to try the 1905 salad, named after the year the restaurant was founded, and if you’re in the mood for an adult refreshment their sangria comes in a pitcher that’s perfect for sharing.
Tampa has dozens of fine dining options to choose from, but none are quite as famously known as Berns Steakhouse. In the heart of what the locals call “SoHo,” or the South Howard district, Berns serves up succulent steaks, seafood, and spirits. The location boasts one of the largest wine cellars in the entire country and has a separate intimate dessert room where you can come to enjoy one of the pastry chef’s decadent creations. The high-end restaurant does tend to book up in season, so be sure to make a reservation to get a table from November to March.
No matter what type of shopping experience you’re looking for in Tampa, you will find it. The area is home to dozens of shopping districts, the most popular of which is International Plaza and Bay Street. The unique property combines an indoor mall with over 200 stores anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s with an open-air village of over a dozen delicious restaurants and small boutiques. Attached to the Renaissance Tampa Hotel and just minutes away from the airport, you could make a trip to “IP” an all-day adventure.
Bargain hunters should head north to the Tampa Premium Outlets in Lutz. The newly-opened mall boasts some of the best deals in town with 110 different retailers and Saks OFF5th as its crown jewel. Browse selections from Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Nike, and Cole Haan in an open-air shopping experience.
Hyde Park Village is a charming shopping neighborhood that is ever-expanding. Featuring a boutique shopping experience with local speciality retailers and big name stores like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn interspersed with tasty local cuisine and coffee shops, Hyde Park Village combines the aesthetic of a quaint neighborhood with unique and specialized gifts and goods.
Floridians love to relax, and one of the perks of living where the rest of the world vacations is access to some of the swankiest spas and salons in the country. Locals can book appointments at properties like the Saddlebrook Resort and have access to their European-style spa and salon services, along with their incredible pool, golf course, and host of amenities without having to pay to stay the night on the property.
There’s no end to the possibilities of places to explore in Tampa. Start with one of these suggestions and then let your imagination lead and your feet follow to find your favorite places in the city.
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