Tampa Bay

With its vibrant waterfront, urban cool and roster of new developments, Tampa Bay is a hit with groups.

Why Here?

With its vibrant waterfront, urban cool and roster of new developments, it’s easy to see why Tampa Bay — named a WalletHub 2018 top-20 best large city to live in — is a hit with groups. 

Good to Know
Taxes. Room tax, 5%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12%. As of January 2018, properties in downtown and Ybor City charge an additional $1.50 tourism-marketing district fee per night.
Convention Center. Tampa Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 200,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 40; (813) 274-8511
CVB. Visit Tampa Bay,  (813) 223-111 or (800) 448-2672

Only in Tampa Bay

There’s plenty of good "cheers" in this Florida city, home to more than 40 craft breweries. Visitors can throw back a pint at renowned spots like Coppertail Brewing and Cigar City Brewing, or at one of the newest entrants, Rock Brothers Brewing.

Airport and Airlift Update

Tampa International Airport is growing, with a $2 billion expansion and renovation project underway. The phase-one work included road work, a new 1.4-mile SkyConnect people mover, an expansion of the main terminal, a new rental car center and the addition of several local restaurants to the dining options. Phase two, which starts this year, includes a 17-acre commercial development with a hotel and curbside expansion work. Phase 3, which has not begun yet, will see the addition of a new 16-gate terminal. Read more here.

Over the past year, TPA announced new service to more than 30 destinations, including direct service to San Diego on Southwest Airlines. To read more about new destinations added at Tampa International in 2018, head here. For more on international carriers serving Tampa Bay, head here.

Getting Here and There

Tampa International Airport, about six miles to downtown Tampa Bay. Transfer cost by taxi, $25; the airport is also served by Uber and Lyft.

Tampa's TECO line streetcar system — which runs from Downtown past the Tampa Convention Center and up to Ybor City — will be free starting as soon as October 2018. The yellow streetcars will also run more frequently. Read more here.

Meeting Venues

Coming Soon

Coming in 2020, the 519-room JW Marriott Tampa will add greatly to the room product available across the street from the Tampa Convention Center. The five-star property will include 126,000 square feet of meeting space and the city’s highest rooftop bar, with dramatic views of downtown and Tampa Bay.
The five-star, 173-room Tampa Edition will be co-located with the JW Marriott as part of the massive Water Street Tampa project’s 26-story tower. It will open in 2021 across the street from Amelie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning ice-hockey team.
Chicago’s Aparium Hotel Group is planning a 176-room, $52 million boutique hotel at the corner of E Seventh Avenue at 15th Street in Ybor City.


Over the next three years the Tampa Convention Center will roll out a series of upgrades and improvements as part of a $20 million capital improvement program. In May 2020, 18 new waterfront meeting rooms totaling 16,000 square feet will be unveiled overlooking the Hillsborough River, as well as an expansive terrace. Then in February 2021, the convention center's existing meeting rooms will be renovated with new paint, carpets and upgraded lighting. Other work in the project includes a series of new and modernized dining outlets, renovated restrooms and energy efficient infrastructure upgrades. Read more about the improvements here.

The Tampa Museum of Art's eclectic permanent collection leans toward modern and contemporary works, including sculpture, painting, photography and installation art. The museum, which bills itself as the only such institution in the country accessible by boat, hosts private events for groups of up to 800 people. (813) 274-8130
For a venue with a raw, industrial vibe, consider CL Space. The versatile 2,088-square-foot industrial loft in the heart of Ybor City can accommodate up to 200 guests and features brick walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights and exposed beams. Dining tables, chairs and cocktail tables are included in the rental price. The venue has a kitchen, and outside caterers are welcome. 

Sparkman Wharf, an outdoor food hall, beer garden and creative space, is set to open this fall as part of the mixed-use riverfront development Water Street Tampa. The wharf's dining area will feature 10 food-and-beverage outlets; each will be housed in a repurposed shipping container decorated with murals by a local art-and-design firm. To read more about Sparkman Wharf's offerings, head here.

Recent Additions

Marriott’s new 175-room AC Hotel Tampa Airport is in the West Shore District, near International Plaza’s upscale shopping and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium and, of course, Tampa International Airport. The hotel has four flexible meeting rooms with a total of 2,400 square feet of space.
Featuring expansive bay views, an easy walk to Ben T. Davis Beach and a private dock for water sports from paddleboarding to boating, the Godfrey Hotel & Cabanas Tampa has 276 guest rooms with private balconies. It offers 20,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space, as well as a pool deck for receptions.
The 325-room Westshore Grand, a Marriott Tribute Portfolio property — reflagged from InterContinental — is right next to Westshore Plaza’s  high-end shopping, and a short drive from downtown and Hyde Park. The property has 17,000 square feet of flexible event space and can handle groups of up to 700.
The Westin Harbour Island underwent an $18 million renovation in November 2017 and emerged as the 309-room Westin Tampa Waterside with a new waterfront restaurant, Blue Harbour, and 18,032 square feet of flexible meeting space, all just a few blocks from the Tampa Convention Center.
A $40 million renovation has left downtown’s largest hotel, the 727-room Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, with a new look and a floor of new Stay Well rooms with amenities including air purifiers and vitamin-infused showers. Adjacent to the Tampa Convention Center, the hotel has 43,229 square feet of event space, including 13 meeting rooms, two boardrooms and two divisible ballrooms, the largest being the 17,169-square-foot Grand Ballroom.
The newly renovated 277-room Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel features 12,500 square feet of meeting and event space, as well as an ideal location on the Riverwalk and just a few blocks from the Tampa Convention Center.
The Tampa Bay History Center has unveiled a new permanent exhibit that traces the destination’s links to piracy and the high seas. The Riverwalk venue accommodates private-group tours and events.

Things to Do

Get Active

Break a sweat like a local with a sunrise jog along scenic Bayshore Boulevard in the morning, or come evening loop around the Tampa Riverwalk just as the lights come up and illuminate the city’s landmarks.
To take in the sights of Tampa Bay from the bay itself, arrange a two-hour stand-up paddleboard class and adventure organized by  Urban Kai Stand Up Paddleboarding.

Stay Another Day

Pack the Swimsuit: Located on five interconnected keys at the entrance to Tampa Bay, Fort De Soto Park’s beaches are regularly rated among the best in America, having won top honors in that category from Dr. Beach in 2005 and from TripAdvisor in 2009. Home to mangroves, wetlands and, from April to September, nesting loggerhead sea turtles, the park and its white-sand beaches are just 45 minutes from Tampa.
Get Wet and Wild: Spend a day screaming on the roller coasters and water rides at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, then marvel at the more than 300 animal species on exhibit and enjoy the many family-friendly shows on offer. In 2019, Busch Gardens will debut Tirgris, Florida's tallest launch coaster, which will "catapult riders through an exhilarating array of looping twists with forward and backward motion, breathtaking drops, a 150-foot skyward surge and an inverted heartline roll" at more than 60 miles per hour. Read more here.

Good Sports

Tampa Bay takes its sports seriously. Make some time to catch a home game of:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
Tampa Bay Rays 
Tampa Bay Lightning

Authentic Eats

• Visit Tampa Bay celebrates its vibrant food scene in the newly launched cookbook, Tampa's Table: A Culinary Journey Through Tampa Bay. The cookbook shares local recipes -- ranging from traditional Cuban sandwich at Florida's oldest restaurant to cutting-edge culinary combinations -- curated by the destination's best chefs, along with essays by top food writers. Within its pages are time-tested classics, such as the 113-year-old Columbia Restaurant's arroz con pollo, side-by-side with visionary creations by recent James Beard nominees such as Ferrell Alvarez at Rooster & The Till, recently named Tampa Bay's top restaurant by the Tampa Bay Times. Read more here.

Savor Tampa's rich Cuban heritage via the following:
• Born in the historic cigar factories of Tampa Bay's Ybor City neighborhood, the Cuban sandwich is a must-eat while in town. Check out Hemingway’s at the Heights Public Market at the Armature Works, which won the Ybor City 2018 Cuban Sandwich Festival in the historic category, limited to traditional ingredients: roasted pork, ham, salami (without the latter, the sandwich is Miami-style), Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on pressed Cuban bread.
• Ybor City’s Columbia Restaurant offers Spanish/Cuban cuisine that has made it an institution in Tampa Bay since 1905. Try the ropa vieja — literally “old clothes” — a savory shredded beef stew with tomatoes, onions and green peppers, served with the traditional platanos (plantains) and white rice.
• Another Ybor City stalwart since 1915, La Segunda Central Bakery’s fourth generation is still serving delicious Cuban pastry, Cuban toast and café con leche.