So myself along with a few other Tigers live in Tampa so I decided I'd put a thread together for some insights into what to see and do in Tampa.
If you are flying in I suggest renting a car. There is public transportation in Tampa but its just awful and very inefficient. Having a car will allow you to get away from the hotel area and see the sights. Cabs are an option albeit a very expensive one.
Raymond James Stadium is a nice stadium and parking is plentiful. Expect to pay $10-20 for parking in any of the stadium lots managed by the Tampa Sports Authority. There will be additional parking in other lots which may be cheaper but expect that you'll have a bit of a hike to get to the stadium. Traffic on Dale Mabry, MLK and Himes Ave will be very congested. Plan on arriving to the stadium at least a full hour or more before kickoff. Do not forget to bring some sunblock particularly if you are in the upper decks.
What to do...
Tampa obviously has beaches. At any time 4-5 of America's Top 15 beaches reside within a 30-45 minute drive of Tampa. The weather in the latter part of December is usually quite pleasant. Clearwater, Ft. DeSoto and St. Pete Beach are the closest targets.
Other things to consider.... Busch Gardens is an amusement park located about 20 minutes outside the downtown area. Its well managed, has some great rides and is always clean. The place will be a zoo but if you have kids this is worth checking out. If you have kids also consider the Tampa Aquarium, MOSI Museum and Lowry Park Zoo.
There will be lively parties going on in both Ybor City and also the South Howard area of downtown. The Ybor area attracts a bit more of a younger hipster crowd while the South Howard area is more composed of wealthy South Tampa residents. If you are homophobic, you should probably steer clear of Ybor.
Obligatory Tampa strip club plug. Yes, they are here and the epicenter is the North Dale Mabry section near the Stadium.
Under Armour All American game on January 2nd in St. Petersburg..
Dining and drinks...
Tampa is home to Cigar City Brewing which was recently ranked as the #2 brewery in the United States. The brewery offers tours and is located only a few blocks South of the stadium off West Spruce St and North Dale Mabry. The tasting room offers 20-30 brews on tap and bottles, cans or growlers to take home. If you like craft beer this should be an obligatory stop.
As for food, Tampa is the epicenter of chain restaurants. Hooters, Outback, Checkers, Bonefish, Beef O' Brady's and several others were started here in Tampa. If you want to say you ate at the first Outback it is located downtown off of Henderson Ave and the first Hooters is located in Clearwater.
Tampa does a few things very well but most notably will be Spanish/Cuban cuisine. Here are some of my favs..
Spanish/Cuban.. The Columbia Restaurant has several locations but the Ybor location is the longest standing business in Tampa. The restaurant occupies a full city block and seats over 1,000 guests. Their Spanish cuisine is amazing and very reasonably priced. Attire is casual.
There are several great Cuban joints but my favorite is the West Tampa Sandwich Shop located a few miles from the stadium. Its old school and for $7 you can get the best Cuban sandwich you've ever had and it will be the size of your forearm. Other Spanish/Cuban restaurants to consider are Arco Iris, La Teresita and Pipo's.
Tampa has a few great steakhouses. Bern's is consistently ranked among the best on the planet. Get a reservation now if you plan on doing this. The wine cellar tour and dessert room are must. Also consider Charlies, Shula's, Fleming's or Malio's.
Some other good choices.
Yummy House - the best Chinese food in Tampa. Not the order by number/picture nonsense but pretty authentic Chinese cuisine and Dim Sum. The place gets very busy and is in a pretty gritty area. The food makes up for these faults.
El Puerto - this is an Argentine restaurant in Ybor. If you are a ravenous carnivore this is the place for you. The grilled meats are amazing as is the house made chimichurri and hot sauces.
Laughing Cat - an Italian restaurant right outside the gay district in Ybor. The menu is huge and the food is fresh. Portion sizes are enormous so plan on sharing.
Wrights Gourmet House/Mott and Hester - a couple of Deli's located off South Dale Mabry. Wrights is huge, very busy and quite tasty.
The Taco Bus - its just what the name implies and is located a few miles from the stadium. It's a Tampa establishment/landmark and offers good Mexican cuisine.
As I think of more I'll add and if you have questions I'll do my best to answer them.
Looking forward to having the Tigers in Tampa. Should be a blast.
This post was edited on 12/9 at 2:44 pm