Tampa’s Waterfront has undergone a remarkable transformation, from run-down warehouses in the 1970s to today’s modern, pedestrian-friendly boardwalk. The Riverwalk is not only perfect for a stroll by the water. It also connects Tampa’s most popular attractions, idyllic parks and top-rated restaurants. Whether you want to see marine animals at the Florida Aquarium, taste Caribbean flavors at the Columbia Cafe or cross beautifully illuminated bridges after dark – you can easily spend the whole day on the Riverwalk without feeling bored.
ATTRACTIONS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
Tampa’s famous boardwalk measures a whole 2.5 miles in length – no wonder that there is so much to see here. Your perfect starting point is the Tampa Convention Center in the South. From here, you can walk your way up north and take a look at the Amalie Arena. This impressive stadium can seat more than 20.000 people and is home to the ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you want to learn more about the city’s past, you should visit the adjacent Tampa Bay History Center. This museum features exhibitions about Florida’s native people and the first pioneers in the Sunshine State, while also showing a cigar store from the year 1920. Thanks to interactive exhibits, the History Center is perfectly suited for children.
Speaking of little visitors: The Glazer Children’s Museum offers child-friendly infotainment and experiments showcasing the different branches of science. Equally popular with families is Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park with its extensive green spaces and playgrounds. Canine companions run around freely at the dog park, while their owners unwind with a beautiful view of Tampa’s skyline.
By the way: If you want to see Tampa’s Riverwalk from the water, you should go paddleboarding on the Hillsborough River. Kayaks are available for rent at the Tampa Convention Center.
More attractions on the Tampa Riverwalk include:
- Florida Aquarium: home to more than 20.000 marine animals, among them sharks, turtles and penguins
- Florida Museum of Photographic Arts: art center with countless works by American and international photographers.
- American Victory: original battleship from World War II, open to the public
- Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park: large recreational area with playgrounds and a Splash Zone – perfect on hot days
- David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts: Tampa’s hotspot for musicals, operas and classical performances.
Visitors arriving by car can park their vehicle at parking garages near the Riverwalk. Parking north of Kennedy Boulevard is free on the weekends and after 6 pm on weekdays.
RESTAURANTS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
Hungry guests have come to the right place: The boardwalk is full of culinary choices – from pizza, steaks and Caribbean dishes to American comfort food.
Florida’s cuisine has been strongly influenced by Spanish and Caribbean flavors. A perfect place to try “Floribbean” specialties is the Columbia Cafe, a true Tampa original since 1905. This upscale restaurant serves Cuban Sandwiches, tender suckling pig and Mahi Mahi filet in lavish surroundings that are reminiscent of Tampa’s Golden Age.
Fresh seafood in all varieties grace the menu at Harpoon Harry’s Crab House, and the Malio´s is known for its prime steaks. For the perfect start to your day, have a seat at the First Watch, a breakfast restaurant serving sweet waffles and pancakes. Looking for a healthy option? Then, the Tampa Salad Company is your ideal choice.
In Tampa, you cannot only dine on land, but also go on a Food Cruise with the Starship Yacht. This floating restaurant serves gourmand dishes and is perfect for birthday parties, weddings and big corporate events.
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
If you want to see all attractions the boardwalk has to offer, you should spend a whole day here. Thankfully, there is no reason to drive back on the same day: Tampa’s Riverwalk offers enough accommodation options for every taste and budget.
Not only visitors of the Tampa Convention Center love to stay at the Marriott Waterside Hotel. In addition to 700 rooms, this 4-star-hotel features a rooftop pool, a spa and fitness center and 3 restaurants. The numerous awards speak for themselves: If you want to reside in style on the Riverwalk, this is the perfect place for you.
For a particularly nice view of the Hillsborough River, book a night at the brand-new Aloft Tampa Hotel with its pool terrace. This waterfront hotel also amazes guests with its modern and spacious rooms.
At the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, theater fans can stay close to the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. And if you want to stay fit during your vacation, the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk with its gym is worth a closer look. This 3-star-hotel is also known for its barbecue restaurant by the water.
Visitors who want to stay longer should check out the apartments overlooking the boardwalk on the other side of the river. The Manor Riverwalk Luxury Apartments, for example, combine the privacy of your own home with the amenities of a luxury resort.
EVENTS ON THE TAMPA RIVERWALK
No matter the season – there is always something going on at Tampa’s Riverwalk. A definite highlight is the Tampa Riverfest in May with its culinary treats, family-friendly activities and live concerts. At the same time, the Taco Fest celebrates the diverse flavors of Mexico, and the Wiener Dog Derby takes place at Curtis Hixon Waterfront.
On Halloween, little visitors fill their pockets with candy before having a meet and greet with cute monsters and superheroes. Snow is rare in Tampa, but if you want to get into festive mood, you should visit the 36 feet Christmas Tree during Holiday Harbour in December. Another feast for the eye awaits visitors at the Lighted Boat Parade when beautifully decorated boats race against each other on the Hillsborough River. On July 4 Tampa’s Riverwalk is illuminated by a 20 minute long display of fireworks.