Warm sun on my face, gentle breeze, sunlight shimmering on the water…this was my birthday ‘outing’ this year.
I had seen the Tampa Riverwalk mentioned briefly in the tourists’ guides but didn’t read much about it before we set off. Being a long-time resident of Texas, I had visions of the San Antonio Riverwalk in my head. Tight water space, a few boats and lots and lots of places to eat interspersed with a few shops.
Nope, not the Tampa Riverwalk. This riverwalk mainly walks by parks and other open spaces, like the Tampa Museum of Art. Where development has taken the space by the river, the walk becomes a boardwalk over the water completely. It was very peaceful, uncrowded and overall a very nice stroll along the Hillsborough River.
As the Riverwalk curved around the southern end, we started getting hungry and looking for lunch. Again, not much along the Riverwalk itself, but that was ok. The end of the Riverwalk veers away slightly from the river and goes through a small park, afterwards it becomes a part of the Meridian Ave Greenway. At that point we found ourselves near Sparkman Wharf. A great little multi-use spot with a new twist on the food truck concept.
My husband and I were able to pick our own lunch (him-pizza, me-tacos) and dine alfresco. My only complaint was there was a live band playing but several other places like the near biergarten and by the food containers were also piping music. So almost everywhere and, especially by the open seating areas, you could hear at least two different music sounds playing at the same time.
After lunch we wandered past the Florida Aquarium over to the cruise ports. There is also the American Victory Ship and Museum to tour. We didn’t go into the aquarium or ship but it was good to know what was near it.
After that we headed back through downtown Tampa to our car. We had parked on the street and used the app to pay for 3 hours of parking. It was only a few dollars and turned out to be just the right amount of time.
I did realize after our visit that there was a northern part of the Riverwalk we didn’t see. It appeared to us that it ended at the Tampa Museum of Art from the southern side. After looking at a map, I realized we missed about a third of the trail. A reason to go back!