Stretching 2.6 miles, the Tampa Riverwalk along the Hillsborough River by downtown Tampa is a fun, festive and extremely popular destination for Tampa Bay locals and visitors alike! Since completion of the reconstructed Tampa Riverwalk in 2016, this stretch of walkway along the Hillsborough River and Garrison Channel has since become a hotspot for activities in the downtown area. With a growing list of waterfront dining options, three museums, a steady stream of outdoor festivals, and a growing list of water activities, it’s easy to plan the perfect Tampa Riverwalk date night.
Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a more active itinerary, the Tampa Riverwalk has something to fit every style.
What is the Tampa Riverwalk?
The Tampa Riverwalk is a unique 2.6-mile waterside walkway along the shores of downtown Tampa. Great for biking, walking, jogging, strolling and (for parents) strollering, the Tampa Riverwalk connects parks, museums, restaurants, bars, hotels, sporting venues, meeting spaces, offices, convention spaces and cultural landmarks. The Tampa Riverwalk walkway begins north of downtown Tampa at the Heights Public Market inside the Tampa Armature Works building, by the North Blvd. Bridge. It continues south along the shores of the Hillsborough River, finally terminating by the Tampa History Museum and Channelside Drive, home to the redeveloped Sparkman Wharf.
Tampa Riverwalk Bike Tour
With multiple Coast Bike Share rental kiosks along the Riverwalk, it’s easy to explore along the paved walkway on two wheels. This is a fun, active option to see Tampa from a whole new point of view. It’s also affordable at around $15 per hour.
If you prefer to exert a little less energy, join a Magic Carpet Glide Segway tour along the Riverwalk. With sunset and night time tour options, this is a great way to experience the ambiance of downtown Tampa with your love.
If you don’t feel like walking, The Downtowner is a completely FREE on demand ride service in an electric low-speed vehicle. Request a ride on the app and they will take you where you need to go. It’s a budget-friendly option to get from one point along the Riverwalk to another.
Festivals and Events
Festivals and special events have become a mainstay along the Tampa Riverwalk with most of the festivals happening at Curtis Hixon Park. Check out the Downtown Tampa Events Calendar to get the latest on what’s happening when you are planning for your night out.
There are monthly events like Downtown Tampa Fourth Friday, food truck rallies, and fun events like the Margarita Festival and the Mayor’s Mac n Cheese Throwdown. Even if there isn’t a festival happening, Curtis Hixon Park is worth a stop along the Riverwalk.
Rent an eBoat or mini powerboat to explore the downtown waterways. There are multiple restaurants where docking is permitted and no boating license is required. Be your own captain or hire a captain for a more luxury experience. Night time hours end at 10pm for eBoat and the last rental for Riverwalk Boating Company is at 7pm.
Hop on and off the Pirate Water Taxi at various stops along the Riverwalk while taking in scenic views of the waterfront, including stops at Channelside for shopping, Harbor Island, and Davis Island’s restaurant row.
The Tampa Bay Waterbike Co. offers a unique experience to pedal your way down the river on waterbike or in a biyak. While you can’t ride at night, they do offer early evening rides as late as 6pm.
Tampa Riverwalk Eat, Drink and Dine!
Astro Craft Ice Cream, located inside the Height’s Public Market at Armature Works, creates ice cream to order, right in front of you. Make your own indulgent creation from a variety of flavors and add-ons, including a fun “shot” of honey, caramel or chocolate injected into your masterpiece by way of a plastic syringe. You’ll want to put this ice cream on your Instagram.
For those times you’re craving an authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza cooked in a piping hot oven straight from Italy, Ava delivers. Aside from pizza, the menu also features other rustic Italian flavors. Eat your pizza with a fork and knife if you want to do it the true Italian way! There are three locations throughout the Tampa area, including one inside of Armature Works along the Riverwalk.
Bar at Armature Works, at the northern starting point of the Tampa Riverwalk, is a creation from the cocktail masters at Ciro’s Speakeasy in south Tampa. It’s hard to miss the stylish bar standing proud inside the market. Stop and stay awhile for a delicious craft cocktail made with care.
Love oysters? Stop by Boat Run Oyster Company, a shipping container-turned oyster eatery at the Sparkman Wharf dining garden. The fresh oysters are sourced from the restaurant’s own oyster farm along with multiple locations throughout the US. If oysters aren’t your jam, a selection of other seafood bites are featured on the menu.
Dreamed up by Vietnamese chef BT Nguyen, BT in a Box serves up flavorful dishes inspired by Vietnamese & French cuisines. Organic ingredients, meats from small farms, local produce and wild caught fish are all staples of the fresh menu.
Butcher n’ Barbeque (BnB) serves up tasty made-to-order sandwiches, house-smoked meats and more within Heights Public Market. Feast on house-smoked meats like brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs and whole or half chicken.
Housed in a former shipping container, The Corners Pizza is the creation of Chef Noel Cruz and restaurateur Branden Lenz, slinging Detroit-style pizza at Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf at Tampa Riverwalk. Choose from thick slices like the White Spark, a kale, mushroom, ricotta and garlic delight; Ezzo Pepperoni made with marinara, brick cheese, and Ezzo pepperoni; and the Classic Red with marinara and brick cheese.
Cru Armature Works
Cru’s downtown location is a cozy fixture inside the Armature Works building, part of the Heights Public Market, along the Tampa Riverwalk’s northern end. The location offers a smaller menu highlighting dishes like sandwiches, cheese & charcuterie and wines by-the-glass. Oh and, you can take that wine to go as you peruse the rest of the market!
Handwrapped with Love at Armature Works along the Tampa Riverwalk, Empamamas serves delicious empanadas and tacos.
The Biergarten at Sparkman Wharf, by the Tampa Riverwalk, offers over 30 beers, many of which are craft beers local to the Tampa Bay area.
Over the top burgers and tasty waffle fries are a few fixtures on the menu at Flock and Stock. Plus, you know any burger joint that quotes Scarlett Johansson’s “I still eat a burger at a counter with ketchup dripping down my face” has got to be awesome! Burger choices range from Cooter Brown’s Favorite F&S Southern Swag Burger with sauce, cheddar cheese, bread and butter pickles to the Hugh Heifer with truffle oil, aged Swiss, bacon jam and sauteed mushrooms. Also with a great selection of chicken sandwiches, a la carte sides (can ya say Moon Pie?), and a good kids menu, this place is a gem!
At the Sparkman Wharf end of the Tampa Riverwalk is Chef Ferrell Alvarez and restaurateur Ty Rodriguez’s Gallito. Gallito is a modern taqueria serving up a twist on classic Mexican street food. The menu includes everything from Duck Carnitas to Barbacoa Butternet tacos.
If you’re looking for a place where breakfast is served all day, Graze 1910 in The Heights Public Market inside Armature Works is your spot! The menu includes breakfast and brunch favorites like house made waffles, artisan burgers, and gourmet toasts. There are also some healthier options available. Soak up scenic downtown Tampa skyline views while you dine.
Located inside the Height’s Public Market at Armature Works,, Ichicoro Katsu’s main menu item is a twist on the Japanese staple katsu. Katsu is a popular dish made with fried meat cutlets. Try it in one of four styles — as a rice bowl, sandwich, curry rice bowl or served up in in the traditional way. You can even pick which meat cutlet to feast on (there’s a vegetarian-friendly option).
[KŪ´BÅ] offers “Soulful Cuban” classics with a contemporary twist; serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Located inside Armature Works at the northern end of the Tampa Riverwalk, the eatery is the creation of chef/owner Felicia (“Phe”) Lacalle, who says Cuban cooking is “in her blood” thanks to learning her skills from her mother.
Montados by Mise En Place presents traditional Spanish-style tapas, shareable appetizers and snacks at Sparkman Wharf along the Tampa Riverwalk. Pair your meal with Spanish wines including cava and sangria.
Located directly on the Tampa Riverwalk by the Tampa Convention Center is The Sail, a 360 degree waterfront bar. The Sail is a great spot for a cocktail and a bite to eat while strolling along the Tampa Riverwalk. It offers unparalleled views of the water and is also a great place to watch the sunset.
Soul Food Street Kitchen serves up hearty meals from within Armature Works along the Tampa Riverwalk. Think hush puppies, shrimp & grits, Southern fried chicken wings and other delicious entrees perfect for those nights you feel like indulging in some expertly-prepared comfort food.
The original Splitsville location underwent a renovation and now boasts a new bar and menu with a warehouse-chic vibe. Located at Sparkman Wharf along the Tampa Riverwalk, Splitsville is a one-stop shop for bowling, arcade games and a tasty bite. The menu comprised of Southern fare is inspired by James Beard Award winning Chef Art Smith. Hang out here before attending a Lightning hockey game or event at Amalie Arena.
Swigamajig bills itself a no-frills dive bar and fish kitchen. Seafood loves will delight in tasting Chef Pierola’s seafood menu alongside craft cocktails, beer, and wine. Find it in Sparkman Wharf’s dining garden at the end of the Tampa Riverwalk.
Near the northern starting point of the Tampa Riverwalk, by Armature Works and the North Blvd. Bridge, is Ulele. Ulele features a seafood-heavy menu utilizing ingredients from Florida’s waters. It also pays homage to the many Native Americans who once lived in the area.
Union is a coffee, tea, beer + wine bar inside of the Heights Public Market at Armature Works. Find it at the northern end of the Tampa Riverwalk.
At Zukku inside the Height’s Public Market at Armature Works, you create your own sushi creation in roll, bowl or burrito form. The DIY-menu approach allows you to pick a style, protein and a few finishing touches to make a one of a kind sushi creation. Or, choose from a selection of Zukku’s own sushi rolls, bowls and burritos.
About the Author
Lauren Gay is a local travel blogger, photographer, and foodie with a passion for adventure, all things water, and glamping. Find her online on her blog Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva and Outdoorsy Diva on Instagram.