Hey, Cougar fans! Who is headed to Tampa to see BYU play USF this weekend? If you are, we’ve got you covered with activities and places to eat, thanks to Kim Austin, who served her mission in the area and visits often. She says it’s one of her favorite places in the world, so be sure to take her up on her recommendations — She knows what she’s talking about. As always, feel free to leave additional recommendations in the comments.
Things to Do:
- Busch Gardens is really close to USF. Really good amusement park with great roller coasters! (Way better than Lagoon, and better coasters than Disney) They also have Howl-O-Scream going on in the evenings, and kids weekend with trick or treating. More details are on their site.
- Beaches! Florida is beautiful this time of year. There are some really good beach options not too far from down town Tampa and USF for those that are staying close to the university. Clearwater Beach has been ranked in the Top 10 beaches in the US multiple times (and for good reasons, too). Other great beaches nearby are Pass-a-Grille Beach, and Fort De Soto Park and Beach! If you’re willing to drive about an hour south, Siesta Key Beach is also on the Top 10 lists regularly. The ones I’ve listed are all beautiful though. Take the Sky Bridge if you’re heading to the local beaches from the city. The view is incredible!
- Tampa Riverwalk is a beautiful area to walk around and see the city. There’s plenty to see and do, with things like the museum of art or the children’s museum right off of the walk. There’s also splash pads and playgrounds for those with kids, and restaurants to stop at as you go. If you walk the whole thing, you’ll end up down by the bay. Check out Bayshore Boulevard and enjoy the scenery!
- The SS American Victory Ship is one of only 4 operational WWII ships in the country. You can tour it! In October, you can visit and experience the only authentic nautical haunted attraction. Sites: Americanvictory.org and undeadinthewater.com.
- Sparkman Wharf has a fun vibe. Places to eat, music, activities...etc. the aquarium is near there and it’s just a good place to hang out!
- Hyde Park is for all my fellow shoppers. Cutest location and shops.
- For Disney fans, it’s only about an hour away from downtown Tampa
Places to Eat:
- Wright’s Gourmet House is a Tampa staple! It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, so go early. Another great option for breakfast or brunch is First Watch.
- Armature Works is right off of the riverwalk and has tons of different food options. The ambiance is awesome and especially fun in the evenings.
- The Columbia is a beautiful sit down restaurant with tons of history. Delicious food, too! Be sure to get a reservation here.
- Bern’s is probably the best steakhouse in the city. Expensive, but worth every penny.
- Happy Fish is another great spot for Seafood lovers.
- Eddie & Sam’s Pizza downtown is a great place to grab a quick bite! It’s New York style and absolutely delicious.
- Oxford Exchange is my absolute favorite cafe. It’s beautiful and the food is good too!
5. For those not wanting to go all out and pay for dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse, but still want crazy good desserts, they’ve opened the Harry Waugh Dessert Room at the steakhouse where you can literally just go for dessert. Run. Don’t walk.