Wednesday, April 15, 2015

LPF Travel Guide to Tampa: Eat, Shop, See

I grew up in the Tampa Bay area, but there are so many things you take for granted until you move away.  Coming back home has given me a new outlook- and an excuse to discover new places and revisit old favorites. I had a chance to explore Tampa with two of my girlfriends last weekend. My sister gave us a list of places we "must see" & we had fun shopping, eating & exploring our way around town.

La Petite Fashionista: Travel Guide to Tampa

In today's post I wanted to share a locals guide with suggestions of places to dine & shop and things to do while you visit. There's also a ton of great coastal towns in the Tampa Bay area. While they're more beachy (and great places to get seafood & tropical drinks), Tampa has more of a "city" feel though still offers beautiful waterfront views.

WHERE TO EAT | Tampa Restaurants + Bars

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Oxford Exchange

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Oxford Exchange
Oxford Exchange Dining Room + Coffee

Oxford Exchange: This is literally my favorite place in Tampa. From the locally sourced menu to the impeccable interior design to the coffee bar & specially curated shops. It's a must see when you're in town (and .. coffee art)! It's pretty much my dream to open up a place like this!

Boca: This  farm-to-table restaurant in Hyde Park has a unique menu and truly delicious craft cocktails. It has a vibrant crowd at night, so be sure to make reservations. The menu is set up for sharing. The stand out feature of the restaurant is a vertical garden wall. 

 La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Piquant Hyde Park
Piquant Cocktail Bar

Piquant:This is an adorable French bistro and bakery style restaurant in Hyde Park Village. I ended up getting the Strawberry Basil gimlet- so refreshing! I tried the roasted chicken salad croissant as well and it was delicious. I loved the french style decor & entryway features a bakery case full of beautiful pastries.

Cooper's Hawk:  This winery/restaurant is the perfect place to stop after a day of shopping at International Plaza. It features a huge menu and there is a winery inside- so they let you sample any of the wines you'd like and offer suggestions for pairing with your dinner.

 La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Cigar City Brewery

Cigar City Brewery: Craft breweries are popping up like crazy in the Tampa Bay area. This brewery is close to downtown and offers a ton of varieties on tap featuring unique FL ingredients. They can even fill up a growler for you to take home as a souvenir. 

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Buddy Brew Coffee

Buddy Brew Coffee: This local coffee shop roasts its own beans and is a beautiful place to sit up at the coffee bar to have a cup or enjoy some avocado toast. Literally the best caramel latte I've ever had and I obsessed over all of the reclaimed wood and edison bulb pendant light decor.

WHERE TO SHOP | Tampa Boutiques + Stores

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Clayton Gray Boutique
Clayton Gray Home

Clayton Gray Home: My sister told me that I had to stop in this independent interior design boutique and I'd been following them on Instagram ever since. The vignettes throughout the store were exactly my style and insantly made me wish I had brought a bigger suitcase. Good news- they offer free shipping!

A. Haley Boutique: Another one of Allie's recommendations. This cute store was filled with affordable, colorful and trendy fashion finds. A great place to support & shop local!

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Anthropologie Hyde Park
Anthropologie in Hyde Park Village

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Lululemon Hyde Park 
Lululemon at Hyde Park Village

Hyde Park Village: This is a shopping & dining area filled with tons of options! I especially love the giant Anthropologie store, Lululemon, Francesca's and independent boutiques. My absolute favorite shop in the village was Salt Pines, filled with southern lines like Lauren James, Judith March & Bourbon and Boweties.

International Plaza: I grew up spending many a weekend at International Plaza Mall & it still never disappoints. With stores like Nordstrom, Lilly Pulitzer, J.Crew, Zara & Roxy, I always find something. There's also an entertainment area with bars & restaurants.

 photo tampa travel 5_zpsn1okeym5.jpg

Oxford Exchange: As I mentioned, not only is Oxford Exchange a delicious restaurant and coffee shop they also have an amazing shop & bookstore under their roof. It's filled with a lot of local brands and interior design and entertaining pieces. I picked up a "tobacco & mint" scented candle from local Seventh Avenue Apothecary.

WHAT TO DO | Activities in Tampa

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa | Downtown Tampa

Downtown Tampa: This area tends to slow down during the weekend, but offers several local museums to visits and the brand new Riverwalk. We took a long stroll, but it would be especially fun during the special events they hold quite frequently.

Tampa Bay Rays Game: The Tampa Bay Rays games are right downtown and you can usually score fairly inexpensive tickets. Travel like a local and catch a game! 

La Petite Fashionista: Local's Travel Guide to Tampa |Florida Sunset

Gasparilla Pirate Festival: If you're truly looking for a unique experience head down to Tampa during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. It's in January ever year and the perfect excuse to get dressed up like a pirate, watch the "pirate ships" invade Tampa Bay and enjoy some rum!  

Watch a Gulf Coast Sunset: Even if you're not into laying out on the beach all day, get to somewhere waterfront to watch a colorful Florida sunset. They rarely disappoint. I like to head to neighboring Clearwater Beach's Pier 60 to watch. 

I hope you enjoy my local's guide to Tampa Bay! It's fun to see the city evolving with even more things to do, see & eat. Other highlights of my weekend include waking up early for a Pure Barre class with my friend Jaclyn- glad my friends love trying new things as much as I do. I definitely appreciate things more now coming home to visit!

Live in the area or visited? Let me know if you think there's anything to add to the list!

xoxo, lauren


Joyce Novacek said...

I love this, Lauren! I will have to pin it! Since my boyfriend's parents live in Florida now, I'm trying to learn the area :) It's a big state with lots to do!


Lauren Bejot said...

The Oxford Exchange looks awesome!

StephanieBiggs said...

Hey there, Lauren, an amazing post as always, the pictures are spectacular. I currently live in Chicago but I will be moving down to Pompano Beach, FL with my husband to spend some time there after retirement. We will be living at the Sabbia Beach Condos Place, which honestly looks phenomenal: Anyway, I've heard before that Tampa is a lovely place and I'd be sure to visit sometime. I'd love it if you could write a piece on Pompano Beach as well :) All the best to you, Stephie

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