Planning a day trip to Tampa and want to make the most of it? I understand the challenge of trying to fit the best of Tampa into just 24 hours. That’s why I’ve crafted an ultimate one day Tampa itinerary that’ll help you experience the city’s top spots without the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads.
One Day Tampa Itinerary
When planning a one-day trip to Tampa, efficiency and proximity are key to experiencing the essence of the city. I’ve found that centering your day around the Downtown and Riverwalk is an optimal choice. This picturesque promenade offers not just scenic strolls but also access to diverse attractions. Starting early is recommended as there’s ground to cover and sights to soak in.
La Segunda Bakery for Cuban Toast and Cafe Con Leche
Starting your Tampa adventure requires energy, and there’s no better place to get that local infusion of wakefulness than La Segunda Bakery. This historic establishment is where the morning aroma is a blend of strong café con leche and freshly baked Cuban toast.
I always order the Cuban Toast (they give you a huge portion) and a Cafe Con Leche! They have locations in Ybor City and on Kennedy Blvd (I normally stop at the Kennedy Blvd location).
Visit the Florida Aquarium in Channelside
After the flavorful start at La Segunda, get ready for the next chapter in your day – the renowned Florida Aquarium in the Channelside, just 0.7 miles from the city center. A mere hop away from the bakery, it’s a magical world teeming with aquatic life.
Take advantage of the Wild Dolphin Cruise, a top traveler-recommended choice that showcases Tampa’s rich shoreline. Departing twice daily, this 75-minute excursion aboard a 72-foot catamaran is aimed at encountering the hundreds of bottlenose dolphins that thrive in the bay.
The feeling of the sea breeze on your face, coupled with the thrill of spotting not only dolphins but also a diverse array of bird species and the occasional sea turtle, is absolutely exhilarating. And with the Florida Aquarium’s combo ticket, which includes access to the rest of the aquarium’s exhibits, you’ll be set for an entire morning of discovery and awe.
Whether exploring under the sea or enjoying Tampa’s savory delights, these morning ventures are the perfect prelude to the rest of the day.
Lunch at The Oxford Exchange
As midday approaches, head to the Oxford Exchange, a Tampa favorites nestled near the University of Tampa’s historic campus. I love to order their famed chicken burger, which comes piled high with avocado, fiery jalapeño, ripe tomato, tangy feta, and a smoky cumin aioli, all sandwiched between a perfectly toasted bun.
After lunch, get lost in their attached shop that’s a haven for Instagram pics. Between the curated coffee table books, organic skincare line, and dazzling array of home decor items – the shopping experience is as nourishing for the soul as the lunch is for the body.
Shopping in Hyde Park Village
Just a short trip from Oxford Exchange, Hyde Park Village offers another great stop in Tampa’s afternoon story. This chic 6-block enclave is where local shopping, gourmet dining, and vibrant events harmoniously collide. Shopping in Hyde Park Village becomes an excursion in itself, offering the best in fashion, homeware, and lifestyle products.
I make a point of visiting on the first Sunday of the month when the fresh market takes center stage, showcasing a bounty of artisanal goods and local flair.
Tiki Boat Tour Along Riverwalk
After a day filled with sightseeing and capturing the essence of Tampa, the evening still offers more unique experiences. One that stands out is the Tiki Boat Tour along the Riverwalk. Imagine floating down the Hillsborough River, taking in the stunning views of Downtown Tampa without the need to go by foot.
The simplicity of this tour is part of its charm. The tour operators usually provide a free cooler and a Bluetooth stereo, which means kicking back with your tunes and drinks was a breeze. Throughout the 90 minutes on the water, the city presents itself from a new perspective, one that effortlessly melds the urban pulse with the flow of the river.
Dinner at Ulele (Tampa Riverwalk)
As dusk settles and hunger kicks in, it’s time to talk about dinner. On the Tampa Riverwalk, Ulele takes pride of place, offering a feast not just for the stomach but for the eyes too. The restaurant serves indigenous Florida-inspired dishes and the view from its waterfront location is simply hard to top. Their on-site brewery crafts unique flavors that are piped straight to the taps, promising a fresh beer experience.
They’re known to be busy, especially on weekends, so a reservation is a smart move. It’s the kind of evening that encapsulates the spirit of Tampa, mixing culture, history, and gastronomy into one delightful package. After dinner, head over to Armature works for a cocktail on the rooftop!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I pack for a trip to Tampa?
For Tampa, pack light and comfort-focused items, such as a lightweight travel backpack and a passport holder for convenience. Don’t forget sun protection!
Is Tampa worth visiting?
Absolutely! Tampa is vibrant with retro charm, offering a mix of modern and historic attractions. From the historic comeback of Goody Goody Burgers to the nightlife of Ybor City, there’s a diverse range of activities for any traveler.
How can I reach Tampa?
You can fly into Tampa International Airport (TPA), which is conveniently located and traveler-friendly, offering a swift gateway to the city. Another option is to land at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), which is also nearby.
When is the best time to plan a visit to Tampa?
The shoulder seasons are the best time for a Tampa getaway, with March and April providing beautiful weather without the spring break crowds. The week in mid-August is also good for a less crowded beach vacation, though it’s wise to be ready for potential afternoon thunderstorms.