by Jessica Giles | May 12, 2021

What’s Trending in Tampa Bay

This Gulf Coast getaway is topping the charts in more than just sports. Here's what you're missing.

People bike and walk down the Tampa Riverwalk with its wooden pathway and arched shade overhead.
You can rent a bike or scooter and take a journey down the Riverwalk. Or take a leisurely stroll and stop in to the many restaurants and even splash pad along the way.

If you haven’t noticed, Tampa Bay has been on a bit of a winning streak lately. The Tampa Bay Lightning brought home the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2004, the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were crowned Super Bowl champs on their home field. But this vibrant Gulf Coast city isn’t just dominating the sports world, it’s claiming titles for its knockout culinary scene, emerging as a craft beer community to watch and coming into its own as a cultural hub for the Sunshine State. 

“There’s just so many great things about Florida represented in one place,” says President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay Santiago Corrada. When you visit Tampa Bay, you’re not just stealing away to another beach getaway or a theme park paradise, you get to experience a destination that’s topping the charts in everything. 

Although Tampa Bay has become a popular haven over the past few years, the city has maintained and cultivated hotels that give guests a unique sense of time and place that cookie-cutter condos can’t. Visitors who stay in the new boutique Hotel Haya find themselves immersed in the rich Cuban history of Ybor City with a modern flair. For those who prefer to reside in the heart of all of the action, the new J.W. Marriott Water Street embeds patrons in the vibrancy of the surrounding community without sacrificing luxury. What better way to survey your new neighborhood than from a chaise lounge beside the rooftop pool? 

When you visit Tampa Bay, you’re not just stealing away to another beach getaway or a theme park paradise, you get to experience a destination that’s topping the charts in everything. 

Whether you’re toting a family of five or planning a couples trip, the fact that Tampa Bay is known for everything from its thrilling theme parks to its culinary excellence makes it easy to fill your itinerary. Your group’s animal lovers can spend the morning feeding rhinos at ZooTampa while the adrenaline junkies ride the state’s tallest roller coaster at Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay. Aspiring marine biologists will feel right at home inside The Florida Aquarium, where they can see — and sometimes even touch — more than 7,000 specimens of wildlife. History buffs may want to linger in Ybor City, the multicultural melting pot of Tampa Bay, and tour El Reloj, the only remaining operational cigar factory in the city. 

A close-up of Cigar City Brewery taps.
Escape the sunshine at one of the city’s many breweries, including Cigar City Brewing Co.

While Tampa Bay has long been known as Cigar City, its craft beer community is also lighting up the scene. You’re probably familiar with Cigar City Brewing Co.’s Jai Alai IPA, but a host of other local breweries are making a name for themselves around town. Sip a crisp Florida Special lager at Coppertail Brewing Co. in Ybor City before hanging with the Seminole Heights locals at Angry Chair Brewing Co. Not much of a beer drinker? Swing by Florida Cane Distillery, Tampa Bay’s first craft distillery tasting room, and take a swig of some of its award-winning spirits made with homegrown ingredients, like its Plant City strawberry Florida cane vodka. 

With a robust food scene, even the pickiest of eaters can find a palate pleaser in Tampa Bay. Once an old streetcar warehouse, Armature Works in the Heights has been transformed into an industrial market brimming with award-winning culinary concepts. Grab fresh Mediterranean fare from Kipos and make yourself cozy on the couch by the window, or enjoy a full-service fine dining experience at the rooftop lounge M.Bird. Just down the street from the J.W. Marriott Water Street lies Tampa Bay’s newest waterfront entertainment and dining district, Sparkman Wharf. Among this open-air food hall’s 10 dining choices, you’ll find Mexican cuisine from Michelin-starred chef Joe Isidori at JoToro and James Beard Award semifinalist Jeannie Pierola’s reimagination of a Florida seafood shack at Edison’s Swigamajig divebar and fishkitchen

A group of three and their dog sit with drinks at an outdoor, waterfront table at Sail Pavilion.
Need a bite to eat? Tampa Bay has numerous waterfront dining destinations.

From the ever-growing buzz of victory to the influx of new businesses and cool concepts to a rich culture rooted in history, Tampa Bay has become a bucket-list destination for every Floridian. The Tampa Bay you knew from five years ago isn’t the same Tampa Bay it is today, and it won’t be the same five years from now. We suppose that just means you’ll have to book your next visit soon. We’re confident you’ll leave a big fan. 

Photography courtesy of Visit Tampa Bay