The Best Places for a Pedestrian Lifestyle in Tampa
Tampa’s Most Walkable Neighborhoods
Tampa has some great, walkable neighborhoods for a mid-sized city of 350,000 residents. Most cities are broken up into specific neighborhoods with their own character, demographics and attractions, but Tampa’s diversity lends itself to an even greater variety that usual.
Ybor City, pronounced EEboar, is the historical heart of Tampa with much of it’s character informing the rest. Located near the port of Tampa, Ybor was populated by Cuban and Italian immigrants largely engaged in the cigar business. You may have even enjoyed one the Hav-a-Tampa rolled in Ybor up until 2009. Ybor is a neighborhood of 1920s bungalows still inhabited by a large Latin population, some new urban townhome style developments and the most famous strip of bars and clubs in Tampa right along 7th Avenue. Located just north of Channelside and south of Columbus Avenue you can still find hand rolled cigars along with a variety of eclectic shops where you can get a tattoo, pick up a souvenir or go the movies at Centro Ybor. Wide sidewalks and an endless variety of restaurants make this a great place to stroll on an afternoon or evening. Sushi, pizza, Greek, Italian, even a diner and some trendier restaurants to choose from make it great for mealtime. After dark, the college kids come out and party at the ½ dozen or so dance clubs like Club Prana and Club Skye, where you can hear everything from Reggae to Hip Hop to Salsa. Residents love it, and you can park in the garage o 15th St and stay as long as you like. After hours though, Ybor sheds it’s tourist daywear and puts on it’s club clothes, so tarry at your own risk.
Soho (South Howard Ave)
Tampa’s SOHO district runs on S. Howard Avenue from Kennedy Blvd down to Bayshore Blvd. As a livable neighborhood it ranks at the top of the list in Tampa. The housing in SOHO is very diverse; everything from huge, beautiful bungalows from the 20’s, the more opulent version of what Ybor has to offer, to chic 3 story modern townhomes with rooftop balconies and a view of downtown. Mixed throughout are duplex, triplex and apartment buildings rented by students from the University of Tampa, about 1 mile away, or the young professionals of Tampa. This combination of Attorneys and City Fathers and the college crowd can cause tensions, but it also inspires the densest collection of great places to eat and hang out in the city. Great restaurants; Bern’s Steakhouse, CevicheTapas Bar & Grill, Magrove’s, Soho Oasis and more. There is more than one Irish Pub and 2 separate but adjacent establishments devoted solely to beer. But what really makes SOHO most walkable?
- Grocery Stores IN the neighborhood: Sweetbay and a Publix Greenwise store with a great selection of wine, cheeses, fresh produce and it’s own shopping cart escalator.
- Starbucks and Panera Bread located right in the heart of SOHO
- Hooker Tea – a new “tea bar” that serves great fresh food and has free wifi up at the North end
- Inkwood Books – independently owned and staffed by knowledgeable, friendly folks.
All about ½ mile apart!
The Channelside neighbor is another of the walkable neighborhoods in the heart of the action in Tampa. Channelside Bay Plaza is the original development that now anchors the neighborhood. It is a courtyard of shops, restaurants and clubs that include a great Tapas place called Tina Tapas, Splitsville, an upscale bowling alley and Wet Willie’s, a toy store of delicious frozen alcohol fruitiness. The courtyard holds many free concerts and public events and is home to one of the best 4th of July fireworks shows in the area. Most startling though, is that it literally butts up against the cruise ship terminal so it’s not unusual to walk through an entrance and be greeted by the colorful whale tale of a huge Carnival cruise ship. Just on the other side of the Terminal is the Florida Aquarium, a great place to learn about Florida’s aquatic life and host to meetings and fundraisers of all kinds.
Residents in the Channelside district live in one of several beautiful and relatively new condo towers, like the Towers of Channelside. Two identical, beautiful condo towers right across the street from Bay Plaza. Also just down the street are Seaport Channelside apartments and the Place at Channelside, both are unique, low-rise urban living spots.
The best part about living the walking life in Channelside though must be its proximity to the St. Pete Times Forum, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Storm and a regular venue for concerts and public events. Imagine a quick stroll across the street to see your favorite artist! Afterward, head for Howl at the Moon or Aja within 100 yards or so of the venue, or take a trolley into Ybor City for an even wider selection.
Formerly used as an only slightly offshore dump, Harbour Island is now THE place to live in Tampa’s downtown. A tight cluster of high end condos and apartments just a short walk across the bridge to the Tampa Convention Center on one side and the Channelside District on the other, Harbour Island sports the best views of downtown Tampa. During Spring time, sit out on the patio at Jackson’s and have a great meal while watching dragon boats and yachts go by. Work out at the Athletic Club or wander across the bridge to see a Lightning game. Grab a bit at That’s Amore Italian restaurant, then take Tampa’’s Water Taxi for tour of the area. Harbour Island is possibly the best walkable neighborhood for enjoying Tampa’s Bay life. It’s not uncommon at all to look out and see a dolphins, rays and the tropical birdlife that helps define Tampa itself.
Living on Davis Island is the closest the City of Tampa has to a beach neighborhood. It has that laid back, sailboat and suntan oil feel in spite of the lack of sand. Also home to Tampa General Hospital, you’ll find a great little selection of lunch and dinner spots including some great Mexican food at Estela’s. If you feel like gawking, take a stroll by Derek Jeter’s house..but give it time. It takes a LONG time to walk past a 30,000 square foot mansion.
The City of Tampa is a great place to live, with things to do year round. Pick a neighborhood, come visit and join us here in Tampa!