Tampa Riverwalk: What to See & Do and Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Want to take in all that downtown Tampa has to offer? Hit up the Tampa Riverwalk for a fun and festive way to explore it all. Whether your taste runs to a relaxed stroll or more amped-up action, you’ll find it on Tampa’s riverfront promenade.

Stretching 2.6 miles along the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Riverwalk has been named one of the top 15 riverwalks in the U.S. And it’s no wonder! Head “down by the river,” and you’ll discover a fantastic array of family-friendly parks, museums, water activities, festivals, dining options, and bars.

Ready to walk, bike, or jog your way along Tampa’s downtown waterfront? Grab this guide on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay along the Tampa Riverwalk and hit the bricks!

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What to see & do along the Tampa Riverwalk

Water Works Park

Looking for a family-friendly wide-open green space? Head for Water Works Park, one of Tampa’s favorite downtown riverfront parks. Set in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, this destination offers something for everyone—including the family pooch! 

Cut loose at the splash pad in the fun children’s water park, or let Fido run free in the dog park. Sit back and relax in the shade, unpacking a picnic as you take in great views of the city skyline. 

After exploring Water Works Park, check out Ulele, a notable restaurant that’s a Tampa Bay favorite. Named after a 16th-century Florida Indian princess, this spot is a magnet for foodies.

Relax in the beer garden as you sample from a delicious menu that includes everything from garlicky oysters to seafood pot pie. Bon appétit!

Armature Works

Foodies will find their bliss in Armature Works, a century-old streetcar warehouse that has been reimagined as a community gathering place. This exciting attraction has breathed new life into the historic Tampa Heights neighborhood.

This spectacular 22,000-square-foot social space boasts an open floor plan with communal seating. It plays host to events ranging from cooking classes to art walks to wine tastings. Then there’s the jaw-dropping assortment of delicious food!

Browse the Heights Public Market food stalls for fresh local produce. Indulge yourself in a fantastic array of mouth-watering edibles—whether it’s sushi, handcrafted ice cream, or the distinctly Southern flavor of the chophouse menu at Steelabach. (Bonus: as you chow down, you’ll be enjoying a first-class view of the lovely Hillsborough River.)

Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Got an appetite for entertainment? Indulge it at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The hub of the Riverwalk’s performing-arts scene, this spot is the American Southeast’s largest performing arts center. Featuring five separate theaters and a performing arts conservatory, the Straz Center ranks as one of the best entertainment spots in the country.

Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Set along the east bank of the beautiful Hillsborough River, this picturesque nine-acre site is a culture vulture’s dream. Feast on a menu of world-class touring Broadway shows, opera, drama, dance, cabarets, concerts, and comedy. 

Don’t want the night to end? Once you’ve fed your cultural palate, check out some other options—namely, three restaurants and a truly unique watering hole: a retrofitted Airstream Safari Land Yacht that serves up cocktails, craft beers, smoothies, and soft drinks. How’s that for cool?

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Want to check out Tampa’s premier park? Head down to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, a surefire hit for everyone in the family, from kids to adults to pooches. The largest park in downtown Tampa, Curtis Hixon Park offers something for everyone.

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Spread across 8 acres, this urban oasis attracts over one million people annually to its concerts and special events. Its unique eco-friendly urban design features sustainable construction, LED lighting, and reclaimed water for irrigation.

Hit the playground with the kids, run through the park’s interactive water fountains, or watch Fido run free in the dog park. Take a break and have a bite in the pavilion. Kick back in the shade for a tranquil view of kayakers and paddleboarders gliding by.

Time it right, and you can get in on one of the park’s many festival offerings. Riverfest, anyone? 

Glazer Children’s Museum

Looking for a kid-friendly experience that educates and entertains? You’ll find it at the Glazer Children’s Museum, where visitors are invited to “play with purpose.” Just a decade old, this destination has become an integral part of the cultural hub known as the Riverwalk.

Glazer Children's Museum

Spanning 53,000 square feet, the museum offers year-round programming, exhibits, and special events designed to create a rich environment for imaginative play. There’s a hefty activity menu.  Kids can “drive” a fire truck, care for stuffed animals at the Vet Clinic, shop for groceries, or dabble in robotics in the Gadget Garage.

The museum’s Camp Imagination offers a great way for individual youngsters and entire classes to discover and engage with the world around them—either digitally or in person. Grownups will want to in on the fun too!

Tampa Museum of Art

Craving a cultural shot in the arm? Get it at the Tampa Museum of Art, a century-old institution that’s a work of art in its own right. Located in the heart of downtown Tampa, the museum is a magnet for art lovers of all tastes. Featuring breathtaking translucent ceilings and polished stone floors, it houses a wealth of both modern and classical art.

Tampa Museum of Art

Stroll through one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the Southeastern United States. Browse the site’s world-class modern and contemporary traveling exhibits of painting, sculpture, photography, and new media.

After you’ve taken in an eyeful, take a break. Enjoy some delicious food or grab a gelato at the museum’s cafe, then browse a unique gift collection at the Museum Store.  At sunset, marvel at the ultimate work of art, when the museum’s facade is lit up by thousands of shimmering LED lights.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

Photography fans will definitely want to put the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts on their Riverwalk itinerary. A part of Tampa’s lively Waterfront Arts District, FMoPA is housed in “the Cube”—a renowned atrium building that was selected by the American Institute of Architects as one of the Top 100 buildings in Florida.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts

Browse the museum’s eclectic array of historic and contemporary works by emerging and internationally known artists. You’ll find everything from works by the inventor of the strobe light to amazing glimpses of Woodstock to fascinating documentation of the construction of the Panama Canal and early Tampa history.

Youngsters and adults alike can hone their hands-on skills in workshops covering everything from creative layout to smartphone and social media photography.

MacDill Park

Looking for a tranquil spot that’ll let you stop and just watch the world go by? Stroll over to MacDill Park to find it. Named after the MacDill Air force base six miles away, the park’s monuments honor the history of the base. Pay your respects at the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to those whose lives were lost in military service.

Want to get an early start? Stroll the Riverwalk and watch the sun rise over beautiful downtown Tampa. Stop off at MacDill Park for a gourmet breakfast courtesy of Yolk, White, & Associates, a favorite local food truck. Take your pick from a mouth-watering menu that includes everything from cheese omelets to spicy frittatas. Find a bench on the river bank, kick back, and enjoy the meal and the view!

Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park

Ready to journey back in time, say, 10,000 years? Take a trip to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, a waterfront park on the shores of the Hillsborough River. The name “Cotanchobee” means “where the big water meets the land.” It’s all that—and more!

The site of Tampa’s earliest settlement and first military installation, this 4.5-acre green space pays quiet tribute to the region’s history. It was the center of U.S. Army power in the 1820s during the Seminole Wars. This was the years-long conflict between the indigenous population that had inhabited the region for over 10,000 years, and the American military forces sent to remove them from the territory. 

The fort became a Confederate hub during the Civil War but was decommissioned by the U.S. military in 1885. While nothing remains of the fort, you can view a memorial to the “First Floridians.” History buff or not, prepare for a thought-provoking experience.

Tampa Bay History Center

If you really want to get the inside scoop on the history of Tampa Bay, plan a visit to—what else?—the Tampa Bay History Center. A Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, this top-notch institution features three floors of exhibits representing 12,000 years of Florida history. One of Tampa’s premier cultural attractions, the History Center’s cutting-edge, interactive exhibits provide a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.  

Tampa Bay History Center

Track Tampa Bay’s rich history from its indigenous first peoples to Spanish invasion to cattle ranching to Cuban cigar fame. Voyage the high seas with pirates and Spanish conquistadors. Take a stroll down Ybor City’s brick streets during its Cuban cigar heyday. Climb into the saddle to experience a cattle drive with Florida pioneers.

Ready to refuel? Munch on a classic Cuban sandwich al fresco at the Columbia Restaurant, a branch of the Sunshine State’s oldest and most renowned restaurant in Ybor City. And enjoy the view! 

Amalie Arena

Craving a crowd scene? Take it in at Amalie Arena, a spectacular multi-purpose sports and entertainment complex in downtown Tampa. Home to the Tampa Bay Lightning—the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in 2020 and 2021—this 20,000 seat facility hosts over 150 major entertainment events each year. 

Amalie Arena

Whether you’re a sports buff or concert lover, you’ll find plenty to choose from—so check out the arena’s year-round lineup. While you’re there, check out their generous assortment of concession stands for some tasty food and beverage options. 

For a truly “elevated” experience, head up to the Diamond Crown Cigar Lounge on the fifth level. Enjoy a fully stocked liquor bar, flat panel T.V.’s, and—of course—a well-stocked humidor. Sit back and enjoy a panoramic view of the entire arena through custom windows.

Sparkman Wharf

Want to be where the action is? Get yourself down to Sparkman Wharf, considered by visitors and locals alike to be the Tampa Bay community hotspot. Set on the Hillsborough River’s Garrison Channel, the Wharf celebrates everything that makes this part of town a magnet: beautiful waterfront views, live music, hip restaurants, and craft beers.

Sparkman Wharf

Vibrant and dynamic, it’s a perfect spot for the whole gang—even Fido. Soak up some sun and hang out in the wide-open green spaces. Jump into family-friendly activities like game and movie nights, or work up a sweat in a fitness class.

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Check out the truly unique food hall. Housed in repurposed shipping containers, the Wharf’s restaurants feature an incredible array of culinary offerings, ranging from BBQ to seafood to vegan goodies. Half the fun is in the names. Dare you to dine at the Naked Farmer!

Florida Aquarium

Want to indulge your nature-loving side? Put the Florida Aquarium on your Tampa Riverwalk must-see list. Rated as one of the best aquariums in the U.S., the Florida Aquarium is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tampa

Florida Aquarium

This eye-catching, wave-shaped building looks as if it’s about to flow out over the waterfront. Inside, you’ll discover over 20,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world living in harmony beneath the aquarium’s iconic 80-foot glass dome.

Step inside to experience an environment that looks and feels tropical and lush. Explore the Wetlands Trail to view sea turtles, otters, and alligators. Check out the coral reef exhibit, a popular hangout for sand tiger sharks. Have a close encounter of the penguin kind. Watch exotic birds soar overhead.

Strap on some snorkeling gear for vivid views of the Aquarium’s thousands of underwater residents in the Swim With the Fishes program. Dive in!

Where to eat & drink

Tampa Bay’s Riverwalk gives you plenty of ways to work up an appetite—and plenty of ways to satisfy it! 

Set your compass for The Sail, a 360-degree waterfront bar, located directly behind the Tampa Convention Center. This inviting outdoor spot is perfect if you’re craving refreshment midway through your Tampa Riverwalk stroll. Choose from a selection of craft cocktails, frozen drinks, beer, and wine. 

Head next door to Big Ray’s Fish Camp, where you can dig into a mouth-watering seafood meal while you groove to live music. Serving up everything from conch fritters to deviled crab, Big Ray’s promises to deliver the best and freshest seafood in Tampa—”from our bay to your belly.” Dig in, and enjoy gorgeous views of the channel as the sun sets.

Tampa Restaurant

Venture into Ybor City, Tampa’s historic Latin Quarter. Once known as the “Cigar Capital of the World,” it’s now home to a lively after-hours scene and plenty of places to eat. For some Latin-flavored zest, check out the renowned Columbia Restaurant – said to be the oldest restaurant in Florida. Chow down on an Original Cuban sandwich as you bask in a waterfront view.

Want to experience the heart of the Riverwalk? Take a seat at Remedy, smack-dab at the center of it all. This trendy open-air restaurant offers a great selection of wines and craft cocktails. Hungry? Choose from a mouth-watering menu that includes everything from steaks to seafood. 

Craving some classic Mexican street food? Check out Gallito for a quick shot. Tuck into its delicious churros, burritos, superbly seasoned tacos in gluten-free corn tortillas, and spicy street corn.

Getting around

Need a quick way to see the riverfront? Rent a bike by the hour or day from Coast Bike Share. Just pick it up and drop it off at one of the kiosks along the Riverwalk. 

Climb aboard the Pirate Water Taxi to enjoy scenic views of the Tampa Bay shoreline. Hop on and off at the stops you want to explore along the Riverwalk.

Pirate Water Taxi

For an after-hours adventure, take a pedal on the Kraken Cycleboat. This floating bar lets you cruise along the Riverwalk as you savor a cocktail.

Want a great workout while taking in fantastic skyline views? Rent a waterbike or biyak from the Tampa Bay Waterbike Co.

Or cruise in style with Cruisin’ Tikis Tampa Bay. Make your own party on a floating tiki bar that lazes down the Hillsborough River.

Where to stay

Aloft Tampa

Aloft Tampa Downtown

Set on the Hillsborough River, Aloft Tampa Downtown is centrally located and just minutes away from Tampa Bay’s major attractions. The hotel offers flat-screen cable TV, free Wi-Fi, a private balcony, and a river view.  Hit the fitness center for a workout, then grab a bite at Refuel snack bar, or relax in the hotel’s w xyz bar over dinner.

Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel

Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel

For a spacious room with a view, book into the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel. This waterfront destination offers flat-screen cable TV and free Wi-Fi. Enjoy gourmet American cuisine at the Rivers Edge Restaurant overlooking Hillsborough River and the historic University of Tampa and Henry B. Plant Museum. After dinner, burn off those carbs with some laps in the pool or a workout in the gym.

JW Marriot Tampa

Tampa Marriott Water Street

Set in Tampa’s vibrant Water Street neighborhood, the Tampa Marriot Water Street offers spacious rooms, private balconies with skyline views, and flat-screen TVs. Stroll by the river, take a dip in the rooftop pool, or hit the state-of-the-art fitness center to work up an appetite. Then relax over a meal in one of the hotel’s restaurants.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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