If you live in Tampa, you may have experienced the frustrating and time-consuming drive to reach the Gulf beaches in St. Petersburg or Clearwater. But have you ever considered planning a coastal experience right here in Tampa, avoiding the inconvenient drive to the Gulf? Plenty of coastal activities and Tampa waterfront attractions within the city can make for the perfect “beach day.” Let’s explore our Tampa, Florida guide, where we share some exciting options to help you embrace the coastal lifestyle without leaving Tampa.
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Tampa Bay Fun Boat is one of the many ways to enjoy the water without leaving Tampa. This boat rental company operates from the marina right outside the Tampa Convention Center, offering various options for an adventurous day.
- Sightseeing and Sunset Tours: Take a scenic cruise through Tampa Bay, learning about the area’s history while spotting wildlife like dolphins, birds, and manatees. The crew provides complimentary bottled water; you can bring a small cooler with alcohol as long as you have a valid ID.
- Private Charters: Celebrate special events or enjoy a well-deserved day with your group on a private charter. Tampa Bay Fun Boat offers full-day charters that take you to Beer Can Island, a hidden gem accessible only by boat. Enjoy the island’s bars, live music, and beach activities.
Cypress Point Park may not be a traditional beach, but it offers a relaxing Tampa waterfront experience. Located on Tampa Bay, this hidden gem has a sandy beach area where you can take in the sun, watch windsurfers, and enjoy the scenic view.
The park also offers paddleboard rentals, picnic areas, a playground, sand volleyball courts, and a disc golf course for the more active beachgoers. Cypress Point Park is the ideal destination for locals looking for a quick escape from the fast-paced city life.
Waterfront Restaurants in Tampa:
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Experience a taste of coastal living with Tampa waterfront views at one of the city’s many waterside dining establishments. A few of our top picks include:
- Armature Works: A popular food hall with diverse culinary options and a beautiful view of the Hillsborough River. Armature Works also hosts a full calendar of events each month, so grab your friends and family and head over there to switch up your daily routine.
- Sparkman Wharf: This outdoor dining and entertainment destination stands out as a one-of-a-kind experience in Tampa. Sparkman Wharf features waterfront street food, a beer garden, and live music. Sparkman Wharf also holds weekly activities like watch parties and free workout classes where locals gather to unwind and celebrate.
- Ulele: Indulge in an exquisite dining experience featuring native-inspired dishes, located right next to Armature works on the river. Ulele’s expansive menu ranges from gator tail and alligator hush puppies to plant-based options like their stuffed portobello.
- Salt Shack on the Bay: Voted as the best beach/waterfront restaurant in Tampa for 2023 by Tampa Magazine, this spot offers a laid-back coastal atmosphere, delicious seafood dishes, and tropical drinks. Salt Shack’s mahi tacos have the perfect crunch, and we highly recommend swapping regular fries for yuca fries.
- Patrona Coastal Cafe: Begin your day at this serene Tampa waterfront cafe serving freshly roasted coffee and delicious bites. Try some of Patrona’s unique menu items like coconut french toast and a lavender iced latte. Patrona Coastal Cafe truly lives up to its coastal name, being one of the most peaceful waterside spots with coastal vibes in Tampa Bay.
- American Social: This gastropub is located along the Tampa Riverwalk and serves American cuisine with waterfront seating. American Social is a spot popular with locals and tourists alike. Check out American Social’s taco and tequila Tuesdays for discounted taco and margarita specials.
- Ricks on the River: Enjoy a casual meal, live music, and stunning riverfront views at this restaurant. Ricks on the River has a whole bar dedicated to oysters; what better way to take in the coastal atmosphere than that?
Take a stroll, bike, or scooter ride along the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile walkway along the Hillsborough River. This scenic path offers picturesque views, a vibrant atmosphere, and access to various attractions, parks, restaurants, and bars.
Rent a bike, stop for a meal, or simply enjoy the beautiful Tampa waterfront views for free. If you’re looking for an adventure, hop on the Pirate Water Taxi which will sail you to 14 unique stops along the river. Pay one price and enjoy the luxury of hopping on and off the water taxi all day, allowing you to explore different areas at your leisure.
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Tampa has many options for exhilarating excursions that allow you to spend your day on the water without the traffic-filled drive to the beach.
- Bayrocket: Bayrocket is one of Tampa’s newest thrilling water excursions. This speedboat adventure around Tampa Bay, experiencing high speeds and tight turns, will rush your adrenaline and allow you to experience boating like never before.
- Jet Ski Rentals: Rent a jet ski and explore Tampa Bay from a different perspective. Enjoy the thrill of gliding across the water and cooling off from the summer heat. You might even see some friendly sea animals along the way.
- Tiki Tours: Cruise on a tropical tiki boat along the water, one of Tampa’s most unique experiences for group outings or celebrations. Totally Tiki Tours offers private and group tours during the day and the evening. Drift away to paradise while listening to music and enjoying the city views.
- Cycleboats: If you hear singing coming from the Hillsborough River, there’s a chance its coming from a lively group on a cycleboat. Join a group pedal-powered boat tour with Kraken CycleBoats, combining exercise, partying, and a memorable day!
- Urban Kai Paddleboard Rentals: Urban Kai offers paddleboard rentals right out of Armature Works, allowing you to explore the waterways, either on your own, with a group, or as part of a guided class. Join the sunset paddle happy hour to meet new people and take in the golden hour sunlight.
Hammock in Plant Park:
Escape to Plant Park, located on the University of Tampa’s campus, but open to the public. This serene Tampa waterfront park features tall palm trees and a large grassy area, perfect for relaxing in a hammock, setting up a picnic, or simply enjoying the tropical views and calm environment. Watch for dolphins and wave to passing boats; you may even get your own private performance from the Cycleboat tours!
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Although Tampa has no Gulf beaches, the city has plenty to offer those seeking a coastal day within the city limits. Exhilarating experiences like Bayrocket and a unique dining experience at one of the many Tampa waterfront restaurants like Ulele are enough to make you never want to leave.
Next time you’re longing for a new adventure, come back to our guide to experience all the fun coastal activities you can enjoy here in Tampa! Happy adventuring!