Spotlight on Tampa's Downtown

Tampa’s Downtown is so alive!  With more activity, growth and economic development happening, it is becoming the place to live, shop and explore.  Families will find so much to do with children and it is a very happening place to come with friends or even date night too!  The revitalization of Tampa’s Downtown is underway thanks to Mayor Bob Buckhorn (and of course former Mayor Pam Iorio) with projects such as Curtis Hixon Park and the Tampa Riverwalk.  The Hillsborough River has been the heart of the redevelopment as it runs right through downtown, where Tampa was first established.   Come unlock the beauty of Tampa’s Downtown and all that it has to offer its community and its visitors.

Family Fun

I am all about coming to Tampa’s Downtown with my family.  With 4 kids in tow, we can spend a full day in Downtown.  Here is how I would spend a day in Tampa Bay!

The opening of the Glazer Children’s Museum was icing on the cake for me as a parent.  Having little ones that loved the old Children’s Museum, I really enjoy the splendor of the new Glazer Children’s Museum in Downtown Tampa.  Located right next to my favorite park, Curtis Hixon Park, we will often come Downtown for a morning at the museum and then a picnic lunch.  And when you visit the playground at Curtis Hixon Park, you’ll see state of the art playground with toys I so wish we had when I was a kid!  “Coolest park ever!” according to my son, Jake.

The Glazer Children's Museum and Curtis Hixon Park.
The Glazer Children’s Museum and Curtis Hixon Park.

Walking around downtown and exploring is also such a fun activity too!  The beautiful Tampa Riverwalk project has made a walk along the river so much fun.  Sights to see are also the historic Tampa Theater, the Tampa Museum of Art and the TECO Streetcar!  If you hop on the TECO Streetcar, you can take a ride over to the Florida Aquarium (as you pass by the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Storm play.) Don’t forget the sunscreen for your little ones, as the Aquarium has a splash pad to cool off on hot days!

Special Events in Downtown Tampa

There are always special events happening in Tampa’s Downtown, too many to keep track of sometimes!  A few organizations that I follow if we are looking for something to do are the folks at Visit Tampa Bay (Tampa Bay CVB), Tampa’s Downtown and on Twitter with UC Tampa.  If we have a day or night where we are looking for something fun (with or without the kids), it never fails that we will find something on these sites to do!

Throughout the year, we also have some of our favorite festivals and activities that we partake in.  We think you’ll like them too!

Yoga in The Park– Every Sunday at 6pm, you can find hundreds of yogis practicing together on the great lawn of Curtis Hixon Park.  Join in for free!

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts– Every year, hundreds of artists from all over the world come to the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.  This weekend long festival has something for everyone.  Always in March with beautiful weather.

Rock the Park– The first Thursday of each month, a free concert in the park happens in Curtis Hixon Park.  Bring your blanket, some food and friends to have a fun evening while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of Tampa’s Downtown.

Fit Kids Playground– The first Tuesday of the month (March through August) a free fun family event happens in front of the Glazer Children’s Museum.  This health and wellness event for kids and families has live music, healthy snacks and lots of activities for kids!  Come down and also receive $2 or discounted admission to the Glazer Children’s Museum through their Target Tuesday grant!

Fit Kids Playground at Curtis Hixon Park
Fit Kids Playground at Curtis Hixon Park

Mayor’s River O’ Green Festival– The third annual Mayor’s River O’ Green Festival will take place in 2014 in Curtis Hixon Park.  The river is dyed green and an Irish themed party takes place through the afternoon.   Such a fun event for kids to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day!

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony– Maybe not as big as the Christmas tree in New York City, but definitely just as special.  We attended the first ceremony and now it is a tradition with our family.  Get hot chocolate and watch a holiday movie on the lawn, this will be a fun family event your family won’t want to miss!

Tampa’s Downtown on Ice– Florida and ice skating.  Need we say more?  Who says you can’t ice skate while it is 80 degrees outside?  Well, in December, in Tampa’s Downtown, you can ice skate while watching the palm trees sway in the sunshine. Thanks to the Friends of Tampa Rec, we are glad this is another activity that we have the chance to partake in.

Date Night

Summer Classics- Tampa’s Premiere Classic Movie Series– Each year, my husband and I venture to Tampa’s Downtown for a Sunday summer afternoon of dinner and a movie.  But we first go see our movie, a classic like “Gone With The Wind” or “Casablanca” at the historic Tampa Theatre on Franklin Street.  Even the cobblestone road makes it seem like we are in a movie.  Then we head over to Malio’s Prime Steakhouse for a romantic dinner, sans kids.  Just what parents of 4 kids need.  A break from reality.

Tampa Thaetre
Tampa Thaetre

My kids have grown up in Tampa’s Downtown and I hope that when they are older, they will remember it from when they were children.  I love my city and am proud to live in such an amazing community. I hope you get a chance to enjoy it too!

And if I missed anything or you want to tell me more about another adventure I should head out on in Tampa’s Downtown, or if you need any advice on Tampa, share it with me in the comments or connect with me on Twitter @TampaMama (the name says it all!).

Marisa Langford a local Tampa mother to 4 kids under 8. She founded the Fit Kids Playground Project in Tampa, FL in 2008 because she felt kids needed to know that play is a way to keep their bodies healthy. Her mission, simply put: Real Kids. Real Change. Really Simple. Through the online resources and community events that are produced by Fit Kids Playground, kids and families are encouraged to live healthier lives. Currently, she is a We Can!* Community Leader for the NHLBI, a Truck Farm fleet operator for Truck Farm Tampa and Food Revolution Ambassador for Jamie Oliver. Marisa has also received national recognition for her work as the 2012 award winner of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition- Community Leader Award. Fit Kids Playground was also awarded the 2011 & 2012 We Can!* National Assistance Grant for the Playin’ In The Park project in the Tampa Bay area. She was named finalist for the 2012 Tampa Bay Business Journal Business Woman of the Year as well as a finalist for the 2011 Tampa Bay Business Journal Up & Comer award, all for her Fit Kids Playground project. She has also successfully secured over $30,000 in grants and private funding to help keep her community project alive! She is an active Mom on a mission.