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Our Favorite Spots in Tampa, Florida (May 2023)

In early May we had spent about 2 weeks up in the Tampa, Florida area while John underwent a kidney transplant surgery. It's quite a long story but to give you some background, a close family friend's son has had a type of degenerative kidney disease for quite a few years. It turns out that John was a perfect match for him so on May 4th they underwent a kidney transplant at Tampa Regional Hospital. Everything went smooth and both of them are doing great! (It was such a gracious and amazing gift, I'm so proud of you.) John had spent a few days in the hospital before coming home, and home being the house we were renting while we were in the area. We had to stick around for the following two weeks just incase he needed additional care after the surgery. Once John was feeling up for it, he joined Charlie and I on a few outings at some awesome spots we found. Below is a picture of the flag they fly every time someone becomes a living donor!


Naked Farmer

I didn't eat here in person, but ordered it via Uber Eats the night prior to the transplant surgery. John had gone out to dinner with a few close friends and I was pretty tired so chose a night in. I wanted something relatively healthy and saw the "Naked Farmer" pop up so I decided to give it a go! They have a few different locations around Florida but I hadn't eaten here before. I ordered a bowl with Chicken thighs, rice, broccoli and sweet potatoes with a side of Mac and cheese. The bowl was great but I'll tell you, that Mac and cheese was FIRE GOOD. They have a locally sourced menu and work with farmers in the area to bring fresh ingredients to their menu. Yum!


American Social in Harbour Island

Harbour Island is a fun spot to check out with some great spots to eat and walk around. We had our first dinner out at American Social which was right on the water. You could tell it was a popular spot because even for an early dinner the place was pretty busy. We ate outside and ordered drinks, appetizers and entrees. I ordered the kimchi chimichurri steak bowl that had some good flavors to it. We could see the water from where we were sitting. There were boaters going by enjoying a sunset ride. There was a well-kept walking path that went alongside the intercostal and right in front of the restaurant. I was able to walk along the path with Charlie once he started to get antsy at the table He's at the state where we doesn't wan to sit still and loves to explore. It worked out for everyone!


Hyde Park Village

Some of our friends recommended that we make a stop at Hyde Park Village and I'm glad they did! Its an up and coming area that has so many cute picture perfect spots. There were plenty of places to eat from a steak house, Italian, American grills, ice cream and bakeries! Not to mention there were also countless places to shop from local boutiques to well known brands. We spotted a Lululemon so we had to check it out, of course. Charlie started to get tired so we grabbed a salad l to go from sweetgreen as well as a smoothie and açaí bowl from Clean Juice! You could easily spend a full morning walking around, dining and shopping.


Hula Bay Club

We met up with the recipients family for lunch one day at the Hula Bay Club one week post surgery! (Not going to mention names as its not my family and I want to respect their privacy.) Its a bar and grill in the on the Tampa bay waterfront surrounded by marinas. There were some boats that pulled right up to the dock to get lunch too! We ordered mimosas and a few appetizers to start off, one of them being the dynamite dip that was delicious. I wanted something light so I ordered a Cesar salad with blackened chicken and a side of sweet potato fries. (They're my guilty pleasure) We sat right next to the water and had a great time!


Cypress Point Park and Beach

This was a spot Charlie and I explored on our own while John was recovering a few days post surgery! It was less than a 10 minute drive from where we were staying which was great because there were only a handful of beach access points in Tampa. If you really wanted to enjoy the water you would need to drive over the causeways to St. Pete, which I wasn't super game for with a munchkin that doesn't love car rides. We walked the 1+ mile path that went through the disc golf course next to the beach before making our way to the sand. We were there in the later afternoon so it wasn't crazy busy and there is plenty of parking available. There were two sections of beach, one that was off to the side settled in the mangroves and the main section that was right off the intercostal. Both were beautiful and Charlie enjoyed watching the waves and playing in the sand!


Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park

This was the other spot that Charlie and I checked out while John was recovering! It was a 15 minute drive into the downtown area of Tampa from where we were staying. Its a large 25 acre park nestled in the city with a boat house, lawn area, splash pad, play gym and dog park! It didn't necessarily have a defined path to walk but Charlie and I spent a good amount of time walking around before settling at the splash pad. Charlie isn't at the age where he could really enjoy the kids section of the park, but it was still fun to let him play in the water and walk around!


Heights Public Market + Water Works Park

For mothers day, I had done some research and we decided on checking out the Heights Public Market! Honestly my expectations were that we would grab some to-go food and have a mini picnic at the park but they were FAR surpassed. This is the cutest indoor market with so many good spots to eat from pizza, sweets, tacos, burgers, bars, etc. Also, I wasn't the only one with this bright idea and the place was packed! We ended up deciding on getting the "quesatacos" from Muchchas and they were 100% worth the wait. (Wait meaning we had ordered and sat down, only for me to spill my mimosa all over the tacos so John graciously offered to go back inside and reorder for us. He returned with new tacos as well as a side of rice/beans and street corn. Bless.) There was plenty of seating so we ate outside on the picnic tables next to the grass lawn with a giant chess board and spots for kids to run around and play! Of course we had to grab a Nutella cookie and ultimate brownie from the bakery to-go. For mothers day, they were also putting on a local artist's market next door in the attached warehouse. We picked up an adorable onesie for Charlie and some natural dog ointment for Patty! Afterwards, we spent some time walking along the path in front of the market that took us through the Water Works Park. We only did that for a few minutes before heading back for the car because there is zero shade. Remember to bring a hat and sunscreen!


The Florida Aquarium

One afternoon we decided to check out The Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa! Another short drive from where we were staying and there was plenty of parking garages since it was attached to the cruise port. Its a 250,000 square foot facility that houses aquatic life from all over the world! It first takes you through a native Florida wetland with fish, birds, turtles and even monkeys! Then you make your way into the main aquarium where you'll see plenty of different aquatic life. Some of the exhibits were Journey to Madagascar, Shorelines, Stingray Beach (you could actually touch the stingrays!), No Bone Zone, Coral Reef, Reef Secrets, Waves of Wonder and Moon Bay. My favorite exhibit was probably the jelly fish section. They always amaze me. Of course there was plenty of shopping at the gift shop, a large restaurant and an outdoor splash pad! Before we left we also got to see the newer exhibit housing a few Madagascar penguins. They were very fascinated with Charlie because he was about as tall as they were. Too funny.


Ben T. Davis Beach

On our last day before we headed home I told John I really wanted to check out another beach. Like I had mentioned earlier it's a good 30-40 minute drive, with minimal traffic, to get to the beaches on the coastline. So instead we opted for one of the local beaches off the causeway! The Ben T. Davis Beach is cute, quaint and clean. We were able to rent a few chairs and an umbrella for the couple hours we stayed. That was definitely a must because there is ZERO shade and I don't think we would have survived longer than 20 minutes without it. We spent the afternoon hanging out in the water and under the shade. We really did have a good time and Charlie is such a water loving baby. Plus- it had probably the cheapest beach parking I've ever experienced. Win!


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