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Over 2.5 miles long, Tampa Riverwalk is a pedestrian pathway that winds alongside the Hillsborough River through the downtown area. First proposed in 1975, Tampa Riverwalk has developed into a destination stop full of activities, hotels, restaurants and history. Taking a stroll on Tampa Riverwalk is an easy way to spend a day near the water and entertain everyone in the family.
Start by parking in Ybor City and take the TECO Streetcar to the Amalie Arena Station. The beginning of Riverwalk is located just a few steps away, behind the Tampa Bay History Center. Located on the lower level of the museum is the Columbia Café. A smaller version of the iconic Tampa restaurant, which is the oldest in Florida, you can enjoy some of the Columbia’s classic menu items and their signature sangria while overlooking the river.
Speaking of sangria, you’re allowed to drink alcohol while strolling Tampa Riverwalk as long as it’s in a Riverwalk to-go cup. Just ask for one at any of the restaurants or bars you visit. There are bars and restaurants the entire way, so you can take your time relaxing and enjoying the people watching.
As you’re walking, keep an eye out for Riverwalk’s Historical Monument Trail. Consisting of busts of Tampa area residents who helped develop and shape the area, the statues are along the entire Riverwalk. Stop at each and learn a little more about how each individual helped make Tampa what it is today.
When you pass the Tampa Bay Convention Center, look across the water for a glimpse of the Jose Gaspar pirate ship. Used every year during the Gasparilla celebration, the Jose Gaspar has a permanent home on Hillsborough River and is easy to spot with its colorful flags.
Continuing your way northwest, you’ll make your way to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Used for some of Tampa’s biggest events throughout the year, Curtis Hixon Park has a doggie park, splash fountains and a children’s playground. Making it a great place to stop and relax on your walk.
Directly north of Curtis Hixon Park is the Straz Center For The Performing Arts. The largest performing arts center in the Southeast, The Straz offers outdoor dining on the river. Look directly across the water to see the University of Tampa’s iconic minarets, which have touched Tampa’s skyline since being built in the late 1800s.
Passing under I-275, you’ll find public art created just for the Tampa Riverwalk. As part of celebrating the community, there is public art on display along the entire route. Be on the lookout for art panels, statues, sculptures and murals as you go.
Families shouldn’t miss a stop at Water Works Park and Spring. An open lawn, splash pads, playground, dog parks and shaded areas allow for relaxation or hanging out. Located next to the park is a natural spring that is attached to the Hillsborough. During cooler months, see if you can find any manatees in the spring seeking warmer waters to relax.