For my birthday weekend, the family and I decided to go to Tampa. I’ve only ever been to Tampa once before, so I thought it would be great to celebrate my birthday there. When we first started talking about going to Tampa, our thought was to wake up early and head there. Lucky for us, the drive to Tampa from our house is about an hour and a half away, which meant that we didn’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. to make it by day time.
The drive from Orlando to Tampa isn’t bad, but there is nothing much to see. By the time we did start seeing buildings, we knew we had made it to Tampa.
Sulphur Springs Water Tower
The first thing we decided to do when we got to Tampa was go to Sulphur Springs Water Tower. This beautiful tower is a landmark that stands 214 feet tall with a foundation of 45 feet deep. I had heard great things about it and wanted to see it in person. So the family and I took a trip towards the historic district of Sulphur Springs, and sure enough it was visible from the very road I was on.
As we made our way towards the tower, we noticed the open area around the tower. After admiring the tower for a few minutes, my husband began flying his drone around the open area and captured some amazing footage, which you may eventually see on his Instagram – @the_wandering_techie.
The Bay Harbor Hotel
After spending a good two hours at the Sulphur Springs Water Tower, we made our way to the Bay Harbor Hotel. I had never stayed at a hotel in Tampa before, so I was excited that we were going to stay for the night.
When we arrived at the hotel, we had a bit of trouble finding parking due to the event going on at the hotel. However, we did find parking after circling the parking lot once, so we weren’t there for long. After we checked-in, we were a bit confused as to where our room was located, but thankfully the staff members were very helpful and quick to help us find our room.
The suite was absolutely gorgeous with its modern look and balcony facing the bay. The spacious room was perfect for the family and provided all the essentials – mini fridge, complimentary wireless internet, 55″ screen TV, Keurig coffee maker and comfort. The suite also had a sitting area that could easily turn into a sleeping area with its pull-out couch. There was so much room in the suite that we even thought of staying in the room and enjoying all the the activities the hotel had to offer. Of course, there was one thing I wanted to do before I could fully enjoy the hotel.
Junk Art of Hong Kong Willie
One of the things I was told to check out was Hong Kong Willie’s Junk Art. My family didn’t seem too impressed by the art or the fact that we drove 20 minutes to see a small display of junk art. I, however, am the type of person that loves discovering outside art and anything fascinating. The first thing people may see when going to the Junk Art is a bunch of random things hanging from the roof and a crazy looking helicopter, but to me it was the details that really captured my eye. From the splashes of paint on the floor to the Christmas lights on the helicopter, this was certainly an interesting place to visit.
After our mini outing to the Junk Art, we went back to the hotel. We took a few minutes to explore our surroundings and discovered a great night life within the hotel. Of course, at the time they were having their annual event, which filled up the hotel. We decided to make our way to the Beach Bar|Restaurant for dinner and sat outside. We wanted to wait to sit at the fire pit table, but unfortunately it is a first come, first serve, so we just sat at one of the nice patio tables. The night was gorgeous with the bay to the side of us and the band playing some great music.
The food wasn’t bad at all. I was very pleased with my meal and loved the touches to it. I had the Caribbean Steak that came with sauteed onions, rice and a delicious mango pear salsa on top of the steak. The flavors all blended in well and the steak was perfectly cooked. My husband had the BBQ Ribs, which in his words, “the ribs were delicious, amazing!” This is a very family-friendly restaurant that offers something for the whole family. If you are traveling with a young child, they have burgers and pizza.
After our dinner, we spent most of the night exploring, listening to the band and watching the party going on at Whiskey Joe’s from our balcony. When it was time to set the pull out bed, we had one of the staff members help us out. There seemed to be an issue with the pull out bed, so the staff member called another member to help out. Both of the staff members were willing to get the bed fixed and looked for different ways to get this immediately fixed. After a few minutes, they got the pull out bed fixed and we were finally able to use it.
Our experience with getting lost trying to find our room and the pull out bed, allowed me to see the amazing service the staff provides to those who stay at the hotel. There are so many good things about this hotel, but there were also a few things that made my cons list.
- Our room was next to an ice machine, so we could hear people getting ice in the middle of the night.
- Due to the event near the hotel, it was somewhat difficult to go to sleep with the after party going on.
- Staff was very friendly and helpful
- Clean room and bathroom
- The hotel lobby and room are very modern and nicely decorated
- Comfortable beds and pillows
- Quick response from staff when certain situations arise
- Whiskey Joe’s is close by
- Amazing food and great environment
Aside from the ice machine and party, the stay at the hotel was great. If you are all about comfort, cleanliness and a helpful staff, then this is a perfect stay. This might have been my first hotel in Tampa, but I’ve stayed in hotels before and this one definitely made my top choice list.
Waking up and being able to walk to the balcony just to look at the bay is an amazing experience all on its own. So when the time came to pack up and leave, I was sad that I couldn’t stay for another night.
Before I left Tampa, we made one last trip to Oxford Exchange. The place is gorgeous and full of delicious coffee and trinkets to play with. This was also one of the places I wanted to go to since last year! So I was excited to finally experience Oxford Exchange.
My stay in Tampa was amazing, even more so because of the people I had the pleasure of meeting and all the activities I got to do. My stay was great, the weather was amazing and I had a wonderful birthday weekend!
The Bay Harbor Hotel hosted me during my stay with dinner included, but as always, all opinions are my own.