Travel Planner: 3 Ideal Days in Tampa

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Columbia Restaurant (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Columbia Restaurant (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Florida Vacation Guide: An itinerary for 3 ideal days in Tampa

It’s May and the pink bougainvillea and purple jacaranda flowers dot the Floridian landscape, days are sunny and nights are cool – it’s the perfect time for a road trip! Tampa and St. Petersburg are joined by a large bridge, but still hold their own unique character. Visit both on this 3-day travel route planner.

DAY ONE

Explore the cultural side of Tampa today, from her Cuban roots in Ybor City to the unique story of Salvador Dali.

Dali Museum

Learn about the artist’s life and works in the new Dali museum. The geodesic dome with 900 triangular-shaped glass panels, suits the unique nature of Dali’s art.  Walk up the spiral staircase to galleries on the third floor, sample Spanish cuisine at Café Gala’s menu or gaze at Tampa bay in the Avant Garden. You can also take a meditative stroll within the hedge labyrinth as you contemplate Dali’s art.

Lunch at Columbia Restaurant

Savour Cuban fare at Florida’s oldest restaurant and holder of the prestigious Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Award of Excellence. Run by 4th and 5th generations of the founding family, the dishes that the Columbia is renowned for are still on the menu such as Paella a la Valenciana, 1905 Salad, Salteado, Snapper Alicante Pompano en Papillot.

Luxe stay at the Vinoy

Check into the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, a commanding salmon-coloured luxury hotel that looms over Tampa Bay. The landmark hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places and its renovation has preserved the iconic architecture, from the glazed tile floor to unique additions such as the Dinauer custom sculpture at the hotel’s entry.

Marchands (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Marchands (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Dinner at Marchand’s

Start with a drink on the veranda before heading to your table. From the elegant setting to the special menus, Chef Mark Heimann, author the resort’s first cookbook Taste the Vinoy–Without Reservations, has created a restaurant true to the name of the original executive chef. Try grilled prawns with a Cucumber-Ginger Salad as an appetizer or a filet of beef grilled to perfection and drizzled with a spicy aioli tomato jam. Or choose from the sushi or blue ribbon menu. Make sure you stick around for the live jazz, from 8 pm to 12 am each Friday and Saturday evening.

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts

Formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, this arts center is set on the scenic Riverwalk, and home to Opera Tampa. Along with five separate theatres and a rehearsal hall, it all houses the three-story Patel Conservatory, where a myriad of dance, theatre and music classes are offered within its 45,000 square-feet. Each space holds different events, from jazz concerts to Broadway, and performance art to free outdoor movies – something is sure to catch your interest for the evening.

DAY TWO

Today, the wilder side beckons. Play some golf, slip into the waters with a kayak or simply stroll along the sandy beach.

Golf in the morning

Spend the morning walking the green at Vinoy’s golf course, designed by Donald Ross and Ron Garl. There are unique events happening on the championship course  and if you’re visiting mid-week, you can play with the Pro on Thursday starting at 12:30 pm.

 

KaYoga Beach Adventure (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

KaYoga Beach Adventure (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Kayak the Gulf

Grab a paddle and kayak to an island on the KaYoga trip. Once you arrive, it’s Yoga on the beach, or if you prefer, you can explore the island during the yoga class. The 3-hour trip gives you a chance to see some of the Gulf islands and experience the wildlife – you can have a chance encounter with a dolphin or seabirds.

Dinner at Bern’s

People visit Bern’s for the wine as much as the steak. With 85,000 bottles, the restaurant has the largest working wine cellar in the world. Don’t be fooled by the building’s exterior – they import specialty chocolates and rare liqueurs to create a unique dessert, but their list of vintage wines and extensive list of 250 wines by the glass are worth savoring. Tip: order your wine right away so that it can be brought to room temperature as bottles come up from the cool cellar.

Berns Wine Cellar (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Berns Wine Cellar (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

DAY THREE

After two days of exploring, it’s time to relax and there’s no better place than the iconic pink building along the sea.

Day Spa

At the Don Cesar oceanfront day spa, you can personalize a package and choose your own services along with a complimentary spa lunch or take a 5 hour indulgence package and let the spa therapist plan your day. Try one of the signature treatments such as the spice island massage or the sea champagne facial. If you want to feel really pampered try the the 24K Gold Mineral manicure or exfoliation .


Don Cesar Day Spa (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Don Cesar Day Spa (credit: HolidayTripper.com)

Tell us…

What’s your favorite way to spend three days in Tampa?