I think that you should occasionally practice being a tourist in you hometown. It’s so much fun to see where you live in a different way and get to enjoy it differently that you normally do. Sometimes you just forget how great where you live is.
In this case, we have only been in Tampa a few months so we decided to take the opportunity to get out into Tampa to really enjoy it. You know, aside from just working there or making up a trip from where we live, about 15 miles South of downtown, to get to Trader Joe’s.
A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Tampa getting to explore. It was so perfect!
We first started out by my office to park and to walk along The Riverwalk, a pedestrian urban trail that runs along the seawall for the Hillsborough River. It connects to parks that are filled with beautiful plantings, fountains, and jungle gyms for kids. But really it’s perfect for everyone, at every age. Walking on there is a beautiful way to stretch your legs.
After a quick walk on The Riverwalk, we focused ourselves on some breakfast… donuts!
We crossed over into the river towards The University of Tampa, which is stunningly beautiful. I just love the amazing history of it going from a hotel to the university. The architecture is incredible.
Anyway, we quickly reached our destination… SOHO Donut Company!
We all enjoyed our donuts that were loaded up with goodies. Autumn picked out a Cereal Killer, that was topped off with Captain Crunch cereal. She munched on all the cereal and the fluffy frosting topped donut. So cute!
We then browsed Oxford Exchange, which might just be the coolest shop and restaurant ever. Everything was so beautifully curated and just so cool. They even have a Warby Parker shop in there too. I am looking forward to going back to check out their brunch.
There is other great shopping in the area but we had decided to walk off our donuts and venture towards the Channelside portion of The Riverwalk to check out the sights and activities. Autumn enjoyed the the playground at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park.
We had to pry her and her rosy cheeks away from the jungle gym to cool off in the fountains outside the nearby Tampa Bay History Center. They were just big enough for her to run around while still being close by while we sat under the canopies enjoying some shade. Plus, there were bathrooms right there so it was super convenient as well.
By then it was time for lunch so we debated on our options- stay near Channelside and eat or head back towards our hotel- for a bite to eat.
Price was interested in trying out Bamboozle Cafe, by my office, as I always boast about how great everything is there. (I previously wrote about it in my Monday Munchies series)
On our way to Bamboozle, we stopped off at Topical Smoothie Cafe so Autumn could get something refreshing (plus a smoothie always is a safe back up for her for a meal). The kiddie sized Strawberry Banana smoothie was perfect for her to enjoy.
The meal was a hit. I ordered my usual noodle salad, price hd a bon mi and we shared a fresh roll. Everyone was happy and full when we were done.
And we have created a new Pho lover!
Autumn dug into her pho with wild abandon. She slurped up the noodles, munched on the bean sprouts and shredded chicken, and gulped down the broth. I even had to ask for a bit more broth since she dominated her bowl. Makes us proud!
By now, it was time to check into our room at Aloft Tampa Downtown, located right along The Riverwalk. It was just a short walk over for us as it was conveniently located near so much downtown.
From the moment you drive up, there is personal attention devoted to you. Valet handles your car before you enter. Then you are greeted at the lobby with great service. You even get great service when you request band-aids! (I swear I ALWAYS need band-aids at hotels. So random…)
Autumn was super excited about the bench for her and Owl. And we were super excited about a beautiful King Sized bed. Since we currently have a queen, it feels so luxurious to spread out in a king.
We quickly got set up in the room and headed down to enjoy the pool.
The large infinity pool was beautiful and the water was refreshing. The pool is located right along the Hillsborough so the view of the river is stunning. Plus the energy of the active waterfront is a fun too.
There were a few large groups of people there so the pool experienced a few different waves of busyness, but everyone was polite and gave each other plenty of space.
We decided to get a few appetizers to enjoy for dinner. It gave us a good way at affordably sampling what they have to offer at the W XYZ bar.
At first, we selected the loaded fries and blue cheese sliders since Autumn requested burgers. In typical toddler fashion, she decided she didn’t want it once she saw them (even the plain ones we requested for her) so Price and I enjoyed the burgers. The loaded fries were just as good.
Later, Price went through every menu item with her at the bar until they hit the chicken soup, which she really enjoyed. At the point, Price also ordered the Buffalo Cauliflower, which I think I now like more than wings. I have to give it a try at making it myself since I loved the flavor and the texture.
The best part about all of it was that it was during Happy Hour, so several of the menu options were discounted!
Had I paid attention of the drink part of the Happy Hour menu, I would have noticed that beers were just $3 and wine was $5, but I zero’d in on the cocktails, which were not discounted. Damn!! But I have to say that both our drinks were worth their $10 price tags.
I didn’t mention that we were bringing Autumn when booking the room, but when we arrived the staff geared up for her and prompt brought a duffel to our room that housed an inflatable bed, pillow, sheets, Disney Princess comforter, playing cards, and a puzzle. It was such a great surprise when we arrived to the room. And Autumn really enjoyed her ‘special bed’ as well.
Thankfully, there was a microwave in the lobby in the Re: Fuel area so I was able to warm Autumn’s nightly bottle. And while doing that I made a stop at the W XYZ bar to grab a drink from my new favorite bar tender, Alex. Oh man, he was so fun.
Having a solo moment to walk around the hotel was nice too. It’s a fun, chill space.
The fire pit was going, which would have been fun for us to hang around with some drinks, but all that swimming really wore Autumn out and she crashed early on in the night.
To finish off the night, I grabbed a Molten Lava Cake for Price and me to split while lounging in bed. I would have done room service, but I didn’t want them knocking on the door to wake Autumn. Plus, it gave me another chance to chat with Alex at the bar.
The view of the river and blue skies was a great way to start the day!
Since our normal routine in the morning was thrown off because we were staying in the hotel, Autumn was quite adamant on us leaving ASAP. She was quite upset she could not watch her DVR’d Mickey Mouse Clubhouse shows. But the puzzle that was provided in the Camp Aloft bag did help out as it was a fun activity for her to do while was packed up.
Plus dancing in front of the full height mirror helped smooth things over in the change in routine/place.
We could have stayed and grabbed breakfast at Re:fuel but we decided to enjoy ‘vacation mode’ and go out for breakfast.
Yelp reviews helped us pick The Daily Eats, in the Hyde Park neighborhood, just a quick drive from Aloft.
We dove into a wonderful brunch with great service. Autumn was happy with her crayons and pancake kids meal, and we were happy with our buckets of coffee and great entrees. Brunch bliss.
I am so thankful for the time that we took to explore our new home. We have just scratched the surface of all the things that Tampa has to offer too. So much to see and do!!
I am looking forward to getting to continue to explore the Tampa Bay area. Stayed tuned for more of our adventures!
Check out all these great places
Multiple entries and parks along Hillsborough River
SoHo Donut Company
117 South Hyde Park Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
420 West Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33606
Topical Smoothie Cafe
200 N Tampa St #120
Tampa, FL 33602
516 N Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33602
Aloft Tampa Downtown
100 West Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL, 33602
901 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606
Thanks for Aloft Tampa Downtown for a wonderful stay at your property in exchange for a feature on the blog. All views and options are completely my own.
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