The top things to do on the Tampa waterfront

By: Jessica Vander Velde

July 7, 2015

In sunny Tampa, it’s all about the water. Along the beautiful bay and the Hillsborough River, the city has some great waterside hangouts. These parks and restaurants offer the perfect locations to spot wildlife, have a picnic, launch a boat or grab some sundowners. Take a look at our favourite places to visit on the Tampa waterfront.

Tampa waterfront | THE SAIL
THE SAIL’s outdoor seating is comfortable year-round and provides a great spot to watch a colourful sunset © Aramark



THE SAIL is a 360-degree waterfront bar located along the Tampa Riverwalk, near the Channelside District. Facing west on Tampa Bay, THE SAIL offers great sunset views, perfect for pre-dinner cocktails. Thoroughly dog-friendly, locals often turn up here with their pooch.


333 S. Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602


Ballast Point Park


This popular city park is located near the southern end of Bayshore Boulevard. There are picnic tables, a little water park for children, spots for grilling, and the 183-metre fishing pier – visitors often spot dolphins and the occasional manatee here. Make sure to stop by waterfront restaurant, Taste of Boston, for fresh seafood and snacks.


5300 Interbay Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33611

Tampa waterfront | Ballast-Point Pier
The pier at Ballast Point Park is a popular spot for fishing © Gordon Tarpley/Flickr

Rick’s on the River


This Tampa waterfront eatery serves up fresh oysters, American grills and pitchers of beer right on the Hillsborough River. Rick’s on the River is popular for its casual atmosphere and the fact that visitors can boat to the restaurant, docking right in front of the patio. There’s even a paddleboarding company, Urban Kai, right next door, which offers classes and paddleboard lessons.


2305 N Willow Ave., Tampa, FL 33607


University of Tampa Plant Hall


The University of Tampa’s Plant Hall is a beautiful former hotel, built between 1888 and 1891, with striking Moorish minarets and ornate Victorian details. A little way along you’ll find Plant Park (on the Hillsborough River), where visitors can stroll along the Tampa waterfront or soak up some sun on a bench under towering palm trees.


401 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606

Tampa waterfront | Rick's on the River
Rick’s on the River has indoor and outdoor seating on the Hillsborough River, near downtown Tampa © Rick’s on the River

Curtis Hixon Park


Just across the river in downtown Tampa (next to the ultra-modern Tampa Museum of Art), Curtis Hixon Park has a large playground and plenty of grass for a pickup game of soccer or Frisbee. Bring a picnic or head across the street to Anise Global Gastrobar for some Korean-inspired fare and craft cocktails.


At the western end of E. Zack Street, Tampa, FL 33602


Ulele and Water Works Park

The perfect pairing for an enjoyable evening on the Tampa waterfront, stop by Ulele for Florida-inspired cuisine and house-made brews on the outdoor terrace before hitting Water Works Park – a treat for the little ones.

1700 N Highland Ave., Tampa, FL 33602


Tampa waterfront | Curtis Hixon Park
Curtis Hixon Park has lots of family-freindly play areas © naql/Flickr

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Have you been to any of these Tampa waterfront hangouts? Where do you spend your time in the city? Let us know in the comments section below.


Written by Jessica Vander Velde


Jessica Vander Velde

Jessica Vander Velde is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. She also blogs about craft beer at

Categories: Our Places