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Conquer boredom with these cool Tampa spots

by Brittany Reed

The Tampa Bay area is full of different neighborhoods and fun activities, catering to anybody’s interests and tastes. Whether it’s Hyde Park, Ybor City or Downtown Tampa, there are dozens of restaurants and cool things to do. 

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is a prime spot for tailgates, festivals, free concerts and other events. The grassy area provides space for all types of activities, such as a game of touch football or a quick workout. Students can view exhibits for free at the Tampa Museum of Art and receive a discounted rate at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, both of which are located on either side of the park. Next to the Hillsborough river sits the Tampa riverwalk, which is ideal for running, bike riding or walking a pet. 

“I enjoy [Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park] chiefly because there are all sorts of creative events happening, from art festivals to vintage car shows,” said sophomore English major, Lilly Seaver. “It’s also a great place to just chill out and relax.” 

Downtown Tampa

Home of the Florida Aquarium and Amalie Arena, Downtown Tampa holds many exploration opportunities and places to grab a quick bite. Popular restaurants like Eddie and Sam’s, Taco Bus and Vale are all located in the city, but be sure to check out lesser known spots, like Fusion Bowl, Bamboozle Cafe and Mole Y Abuela. Not in the mood for food? Motorized scooters are scattered throughout the city and some brands cost less than 50 cents a minute.

“I definitely recommend spending a day downtown visiting the art museum, the theatre for a tour and any of the coffee shops there,” said junior advertising and public relations major, Amanda Maxim. There are so many things you can do downtown.” 

Ybor City

Ybor is the place to go for clubbing, tattoos and concerts. Venues like The Ritz Ybor, The Crowbar and The Orpheum are popular for smaller bands and artists and usually have low ticket prices. Located in the heart of Ybor are Club Prana, The Castle and Coyote Ugly. Ybor is also home to many restaurants like The Bricks, The Blind Tiger Cafe and Mama Rosa’s Pizza, which is the place to go for a 2 a.m. slice of margherita pizza. 

“I would definitely recommend taking a trip to The Blind Tiger cafe in Ybor where the latte is done right,” said Seaver.

This neighborhood is rich with history and walking tours are available for anybody who is interested in finding out more. 

“The tour I took in Ybor was fantastic. I never knew how important the city of Tampa was, specifically Ybor, many years ago,” said Maxim. “Did you know, there is a garden called the Jose Mari park that is considered part of Cuba? How cool is that.”

Although it isn’t a quick 10 minute walk from campus like Curtis Hixon, Ybor is only a 15 minute free trolley ride from Downtown Tampa. 

Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village features a number of stores, restaurants and events that cater to anybody. On the first Sunday of every month is the Fresh Market farmer’s market inside of Hyde Park where 90 to 125 vendors sell their products. Also, every fall, Hyde Park Village has a pumpkin patch, where a portion of the proceeds go to a local charity.

“I love Hyde Park Village because it has my favorite restaurant, Bar Taco, and it has my favorite coffee shop, Buddy Brew,” said sophomore communications major, Morgan Finger.

Other restaurants include The Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Meat Market Tampa. 

Sporting Events

Located in Downtown Tampa, Amalie Arena is the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. During hockey season, games occur weekly. Students get discounted rates for tickets through Student Rush, where prices are only $25. More of a football fan? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls have weekly games too. Baseball fans have a place to see the games in Tampa at Tropicana Field. Located in St. Petersburg, Tropicana Field is the home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Students are able to receive discounted tickets for Tampa baseball as well.

Activities

Tampa isn’t only for shopping and sports. Busch Gardens, located near USF, is the place to go for roller coaster and theme park junkies. They also offer a student annual pass that is valid for 12 months and gives free parking and other discounts. 

In addition, there are paintball fields in Tampa, with Blitzkrieg Paintball being the closest to UT. This paintball center has four different fields, all with various types of bunkers and objects to hide behind. For a fun activity on the water, rent a paddleboard, kayak or water bike and paddle down the Hillsborough River.

Brittany Reed can be reached at brittany.reed@spartans.ut.edu

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