If you’re visiting Florida and planning to travel between cities, check out this trip itinerary of a week in Tampa and Miami.
As usual, I can’t believe how quickly time is going by. It still feels like I was just in Florida…speaking of which: it’s time for another trip recap! This one was interesting because Adrian and I flew to Tampa to meet up with some of my friends from college; we all made a day trip to St. Petersburg; and then Adrian and I rented a car to drive down to Miami. Overall, it was a blast. Check out some of the highlights below!
Our Tampa trip was full of some unique food, a 3-hour bike tour of the city, a day at the amusement park, and more. Here are my top recommendations:
– Blind Tiger Cafe: This cute little coffee shop was less than a mile away from our Airbnb, so it wasn’t a bad walk! There’s also a location in Ybor City. I tried a specialty drink that they had on the blackboard that day: Butternut Latte. It was made with a syrup infused with hazelnut and butter. So good!
– Armature Works: A warehouse turned hub for food and shopping! I got a delicious rice bowl (with a meat-substitute that tasted EXACTLY like the real thing!) from Ichicoro Imoto; a classic but tasty margherita pizza from AVA Pizza; and a monstrous and delicious ice cream sundae from Astro Ice Cream Co.
– La Cabana Restaurant: A small confession here – we actually just ordered food from this restaurant on UberEats! That said, you definitely get a lot of food for what you’re paying. My fish filets were large and flavorful, and the rice and tostones hit the spot!
– Rawk Star Cafe: This cafe was a stop we made right after visiting the Dalí Museum and Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg, and they have a big selection of raw, vegan, organic foods! I chose one of their specialty smoothies and the “Maca-Roons”. Definitely a good pick-me-up before we went to the beach that day!
– Columbia Restaurant: This was our final dinner in Tampa, and we had been advised that it was a must-do. I have to say, I agree completely! Not only is the restaurant huge and beautifully decorated; but the food was delicious. I got the “Cannelloni de Langosta” as my main course and finished with a fresh, house-made coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell. I’m drooling just thinking about this meal again!
– Ybor City: Ybor City is a pretty cool location overall, but we mostly went out on the main strip (Ybor Street) to bar hop. I highly recommend it, as there are a lot of different types of bars there!
– Bike tour: On the second morning of our trip, we took a bike tour that allowed us to see the downtown and historic areas in a mobile and fun way. This was a tour that I actually found on Airbnb, and I highly recommend it! Our guide was kind, informative, and laid-back. On the last leg of the tour, we got to ride along the bay, and that was probably my favorite part.
– Busch Gardens: In case you’re not familiar with it, Busch Gardens is Tampa’s big theme park. The cool part about this place is that it’s really a zoo integrated with thrill rides. The best of both worlds, in my opinion!
– Dalí Museum: The Tampa Dalí museum is actually in St. Petersburg (about 30 minutes west) and houses a ton of artwork from Spanish artist Salvador Dalí (one of my favorites) and also hosts a nice garden outside for visitors to stroll through. Definitely a lot to see there!
– Chihuly Collection: The Chihuly Collection is home to a set of gorgeous glassblowing exhibits by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. I already had high expectations for this visit, but they were still surpassed. If you’re going to the Dalí, be sure to stop here too! They’re less than 10 minutes away from each other. Check out the gallery below to see some examples of the beautiful pieces of glasswork!
Although I went to college in Miami, it was nice to come back purely as a tourist! Some of these places were familiar to me (Wynwood Walls, South Beach, LIV) but a few others were new experiences:
– Wynwood Kitchen & Bar: Wynwood is an area in Miami that has been (and continues to be) renovated and refurbished, largely due to the arts scene that has emerged there. So, this restaurant was perfect for getting in the middle of the Wynwood action and touring some of the murals (see Wynwood Walls below). WKB is a tapas restaurant, so we shared an order of shrimp tacos and tequeños (Venezuelan cheese sticks) and I had pan-seared fish as my “main” dish.
– Dr. Smood: Oh man. I was legitimately sad when my breakfast here ended because it was one of the best avocado toasts that I have ever had! The smoothie was good too, but the toast stole the show. The main reason was the freshly cracked pepper on top of the avocado, and the bread that was used. Instead of a traditional choice, Dr. Smood’s bread is crispy and sturdy – and delicious.
– Icon on Ocean: This establishment was right on Ocean Drive in South Beach, and I will admit: we went more for the 2-for-1 drink special than we did for food. BUT the food was in pretty generous portions considering the location. The two drinks I ordered over the course of our stay (because yes, we went back to Icon) was a 32oz Mudslide. Yum.
– A Fish Called Avalon: This was another “right on Ocean Drive” restaurant but the ambience was nice and upscale. We didn’t feel like we were on the main road since our table was elevated and away from the sidewalk. Here, I went with crab-crusted grouper. You can see there was a seafood trend during this trip!
– Pane & Vino: Pane & Vino was our final dinner for the trip, and it was lovely last choice. The place itself is very small and cozy, and you can see them making pasta and some desserts right in the front window! Luckily, our table was tucked into a corner – so we didn’t have to worry about foot-traffic too much. I had to have pasta of course, as all of it is freshly made. I chose the “Paccheri con gamberi e pistacchi” – basically, short handmade pasta with shrimp in a creamy pistachio sauce. It was absolutely divine! The slight sweetness of the pistachio sauce paired perfectly with the savory shrimp. I hope that they never get rid of this dish – as you can see, I was sad to leave it!
– Private Boat Tour: Our first day in Miami was quite hectic, as we were driving 4+ hours from Tampa in order to make this 5pm tour. But, it was completely worth it! This tour company (another Airbnb find!) took a small group out onto Biscayne Bay, traveling by the houses of celebrities such as Rihanna and P. Diddy; as well as the private islands. We stopped near Fisher Island for a chance to jump into the open water. Obviously, I had to do it! Would highly recommend this tour if you want a relaxing, fun, informative evening.
– Wynwood Walls: As I mentioned above, the Wynwood area is full of cool murals on quite a few different streets. However, the main “famous” walls are the ones that are right next to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. I do recommend checking those out, but also would encourage you to try wandering down a different street and seeing what murals you might find! But, try to do that in the day or early evening – the area is still up-and-coming.
– Coyo Taco: Coyo Taco is a cool taco joint in Wynwood, but there’s also more to it than just tacos – if you know where to look and who to talk to. Rumor has it that Coyo Taco is also a speakeasy…you just need to look for a plain door that seems to lead nowhere, and a man who’s been sitting near it for quite some time. The rest is a mystery…
– South Beach: The general South Beach area is honestly quite touristy (especially nowadays), but it’s still worth checking out for that “Miami experience”. Take a stroll along Ocean Drive and pop into Mango’s for some live salsa and music; check out the art deco buildings; or head down to the Lincoln Road Mall for a seemingly endless stretch of food, drinks, and shops.
– LIV at Fontainebleu: We ended our trip in a very typical Miami fashion: going to the famous nightclub, LIV. LIV has been an establishment in South Beach for years and it located in the beautiful Fontainebleu hotel. I knew that we had to go there to truly round out Adrian’s first time in the city. Overall, it was a fun night to finish our vacation!
As you can see, we had the chance to sample quite a few different foods and activities during our trip! I really enjoyed the mix of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Miami cultures, and I think we actually did this the best way possible.
Have you been to any of these cities? What would you recommend seeing or doing?