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The next stop on our Road Trip USA Deep South Tour was Tampa, just an hour from Orlando. We spent the morning and lunch here before heading to Clearwater for the afternoon. This is what we things we found to do in Tampa and Clearwater on our limited budget of US$136 in our limited time. As well as our thoughts and experiences on our time here.
The Tampa Riverwalk lies along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. It is a lovely area with pretty views, green spaces and a great playground! As well as many museums (including a children’s museum), aquarium and library. It also had a great dog park if you are travelling with your four legged friend.
We spent the first couple of hours of our time in Tampa walking along here and playing in the parks. There was a great playground with some electronic dancing device with music that was a particular hit with the kids. It was easy to spend a couple of hours here and there are easily enough attractions to spend more than a day just in this location.
Ybor City is Tampa’s Little Havana although with a more multicultural mix than Miami’s equivalent. The main strip is a lovely 19th century historic area, and it is enjoyable just walking up and down 7th avenue. It is a mixture of bars, restaurants, cigar stores and shops and is quite charming.
We enjoyed a yummy Cuban lunch at Gaspar’s Grotto and J finally got the Cuban sandwich he has been longing for since we arrived in the US.
After lunch it was off to Clearwater Beach. It is a lovely big beach with a great playground at the central part at Pier 60. It seemed very pleasant although looked like developed beach towns everywhere, albeit without too many high rises.
We enjoyed some time here looking around and eating ice cream. Unfortunately, there was a strong cold wind which cut our time short and stopped us from trying out the water or spending too much time on the beach – too much sand flying around – but it definitely looked like somewhere that I would have liked to spend time.
This is the original Hooters and where it all began which seemed like the perfect excuse to finally give Hooters a go.
I used to think Hooters was a strip club, thanks to Al Bundy, and I want to reassure anyone who might be reading this who possibly thought the same that this is not the case! It is a themed restaurant chain with the theme being, well, hooters. The girls wear tight t shirts and very short shorts, but they are always dressed!
There is some controversy as to whether Hooters is appropriate for children. It has a kids menu, crayons and does other things to be family friendly, but given its theme, it is easy to see why some people think bringing kids here is wrong.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I don’t want to encourage a place that obviously objectifies women. On the other, it’s tongue in cheek and going once for the novelty factor while on holiday doesn’t seem that harmful, especially while my kids are too young to have any idea of the bigger issues. So we went.
We had fun. It just seemed like any other well established restaurant and it felt more like a sports bar than a booby one. It was popular and had a good atmosphere. The service was fabulous. It was good value, but the food was just ok. I don’t feel any need to go back, but I’m glad I went once,
It was a bit embarrassing when S asked loudly where the hooters were and announced that she needed to find them!
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We just kept to our budget which impressed us with two meals out. We had to pay for parking in each of the first three locations which was cheap and easy to find and added up to only about $5. Otherwise, we didn’t need to pay for anything except the food and accommodation.
They seemed to enjoy everything we did. Z especially enjoyed the riverwalk as it was safe for him to walk around. He is a runner so that is difficult when we are near roads. If the weather had been better, I am sure Clearwater beach would have been a winner.
They are going well with the road trip so far and the kids like to play “holidays” when we are in our hotel rooms. They will pack their bags and pretend they are catching taxis to the airport. Very cute!
We enjoyed all the activities. The riverwalk felt like somewhere at home, except there were far less people than there would be at a similar place in Melbourne. Ybor City was great, and I would love to return there on a warm evening and have a few drinks, as I imagine it’s lots of fun. Clearwater Beach was disappointing but only because of the weather. If I had to do today over, I wouldn’t do it any differently.
If we had longer and more money, I would have loved to have checked out some of the children’s attractions in Tampa such as the children’s museum, aquarium and zoo, but we have plenty of these types of attractions coming up over the next couple of weeks.
What are your favourite things to do in Tampa and Clearwater?
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