Exploring Tampa Bay as a New Student

By Emily Banaitis

Starting college or transferring in has always been an intimidating feeling to say the very least. Usually there’s a plethora of activities and events to keep new students excited about the lives they’re starting, but unfortunately this year is going to look a bit different than normal. Many of the events that make studying in Tampa unique may look different due to COVID-19. However that shouldn’t mean your stay in Tampa should be any less memorable. Tampa remains one of the most welcoming places for those seeking entertainment and places to unwind away from school. Here are a few things to do in Tampa while staying socially distant.  

Explore the Beaches:

One of the most popular and cheapest ways to enjoy Tampa Bay is exploring the beaches. A common beach for University of Tampa and the University of South Florida students is Caddy’s on the Beach. If you’re looking for a great place to watch the sunsets, visit Clearwater Beach or St. Pete Beach, all about 30 miles from campus. Want a lazy day away from the crazy crowds? Check out Anna Maria Island, a small town located an hour south of campus. 

Visit Hyde Park Village:

Hyde Park Village is a great area to shop and grab a quick bite or coffee, located just a mile from campus, students can easily walk, bike or scooter to the center. Hyde Park features over 15 restaurants and cafes and about 20 stores, including some of UT student’s favorites Bar Taco, Clean Juice, Forbici’s, Anthropolgie, Lululemon, and Vineyard Vines. The shopping center is perfect for a date night or afternoon shopping with friends or family. If you visit, make sure to check out Sprinkles Cupcakes and use their cupcake vending machine.   

Visit Soho:

Located a mile and a half from campus, South Howard Ave, or better known as “Soho” features plenty of restaurants which line the street. Check out some of the local favorites like Fresh Kitchen, a gluten-free healthy fast food restaurant; Sweet Soul, a juice bar and acai restaurant; Green Lemon, an upbeat Mexican restaurant; Daily Eats and Ava Restaurant, popular Sunday brunch spots, among other local favorites. 

Visit Davis Island Beach:

Another great place to watch the sunset over the bay: Davis Island, just a mile from campus. If you have a car, you can park and watch the sunset or bring a blanket and have a picnic with some friends in the sand. If you have a dog with you, there’s a dog park directly across from the beach.

Self-guided Mural Tours around Tampa/St. Pete:

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If you are looking to get an art fix, explore around the city of Tampa and check out all of the murals painted in unique places. If you’ve hit all the ones in Tampa, drive out to downtown St. Pete, a city known for its art scene and where murals are painted all over the town. Bring a camera too and get some photos.

Kayaking at the springs:

If you want to get out and explore, take a day trip out to the springs that are all over the state. The favorite among locals is Weeki Wachee, which is only a quick hour drive north from Tampa. If you want to explore a bit more, check out Three Sisters Springs up in Citrus County. It’s crystal clear water and large manatee population makes it a great place to go for a swim.

Check out local museums: Sydney.photomuseum2

If you are curious to find more history at The University of Tampa, check out the Henry B. Plant Museum, located on campus. For all the photography lovers out there, the Florida Museum of Photographic Art, (a quick walk to downtown), is a great place that features photographic contemporary art that shows off life & culture from all over. It’s such a unique way to see the works of featured artists. 

Visit Ybor City: 

Ybor has so many amazing places to eat and explore. Visit the Jose Marti Park or for $4 you can check out the Ybor City Museum State Park which is housed in a 1920’s bakery. Ybor takes pride in their Cuban sandwiches so if you are looking for a great meal be sure to pick one up while you’re out exploring. Hop on the TECO Streetcar which can take you throughout Ybor, Channelside, and some parts of downtown for free. It’s a hop-on, hop-off experience which runs from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. and stops at each stop every 15 minutes.


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