I love me a good cruise! And when I'm planning is cruise I always have to decide how much, if any, time to spend in the departure port city. Some of these cities have more to offer than others (um, Rome vs. (no offense) Baltimore) and ain't nobody got time to waste precious vacation days on a boring port location.
Tampa, FL is a port city that you can easily spend a few days prior or after a cruise and be completely entertained. The weather seems to be great always. (Visit Tampa Bay says Tampa has 361 days of sunshine a year!) A few things you can do in Tampa are: visit Ybor City, take the kids to Busch Gardens, go to St. Petersburg, enjoy a day on the beach in either St. Petersburg or Clearwater, fish, kayak, take a lunch or dinner cruise, walk the longest sidewalk in the U.S. on Bayshore drive, heck you're only an hour from Disney too ... I recently spent a few hours on the Riverwalk (with my honey) and just took the long way around to say that's what this little bit is about - Tampa's Riverwalk.
The Riverwalk is about 2.5 miles long and runs along, well - the river! (Hillsborough River to be exact). We were here on a weekend day and parked around mile marker 1 of the Riverwalk simply because that's where we found a parking space. There was a children's pirate parade going on a few blocks away as part of the Gasparilla celebration so we were treated to seeing lots of folks dressed up, matey, and it added to the fun of being on the Riverwalk.
The walk is lined with bronze busts of prominent folks that were important to Tampa's history and growth. Each bust has a placard with info about the person. These were interesting as were the nicely presented information about the sea-life, wildlife and plants and such that are in the area.
We walked on down to the Sail Pavilion which is an open-air bar. This place is very inviting and is a great location to have a cool drink and people watch, rent a boat or take a lunch cruise. From here we saw a water taxi stop and decided to hop on that taxi. The photo below shows the red & blue umbrellaed tables at the Sail Pavilion and the taxi stand.
The Pirate Water Taxi makes 14 or so stops along the river and costs $18 per adult for a day hop-on hop-off pass. Riding in the taxi was a fun way to see the parks and interesting things along the river such as the Straz Performing Arts Center and the Tampa Museum of Art. (As a side note the water taxi is very family friendly and it seemed easy enough for folks to get baby strollers on and off.) The water taxi is easy to spot as it's painted taxi cab yellow (and has “Water Taxi” painted on the outside, lol).
We took the taxi all the way to the end and got off at Rick's. Rick's is a cool indoor/outdoor restaurant right on the river. I've been told that the seafood here is really good. However, since I'm too fluffy as it is and want to start making videos for this blog, I had a salad which was quite tasty. Not too long after arriving a band started playing so we hung out to listen to them for a while and then hopped back on the taxi. It was dusk and the city lights were just coming on - very pretty.
The Riverwalk is just one of the many fun and affordable ways to spend a day in Tampa. If you're cruising out of Tampa I don't think you'll be disappointed to arrive a day or so early or stay after. (Also, I live in Tampa so when you're in town send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe we can meet up!)
Happy & Safe Travels.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.