Tampa, Florida: The Adults-Only City Break You’ve Been Waiting for This Winter

by Jill Robbins on February 6, 2024 in Travels,

With direct flights from Texas’s major cities, Tampa is an easy-to-navigate urban gem that makes an ideal winter spot for an adults-only break. Tampa has mild (low 50s through mid-70s) winter weather, a walkable downtown, and food options for days. 


Although Tampa has much to offer all types of travelers, this high-energy Florida city is a sensational choice for an adults-only city break. Whether you’re an empty nester looking for a new spot to discover this winter or a parent planning a quick weekend trip without the kids, look east to Tampa as your new favorite Florida retreat. 

Getting to and around Tampa

Stroll along Tampa’s scenic Riverwalk or take a water taxi to get around. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

Southwest Airlines has direct flights from Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio that are about two hours long. Other major airlines – Delta, American, and United – offer various nonstop and easy connection flights, so getting to Tampa won’t eat up an entire day.

Tampa is walkable but if you want to give your feet a break, the city’s free streetcars are clean, safe, and fun. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

You can get around downtown Tampa easily without a car. The city center, where much of the action is, is an easy 10-minute cab ride from the airport. Ride shares are another quick option. If you don’t want to explore Tampa on foot, free streetcars and an affordable water taxi service run up and down Tampa’s Riverwalk.  

Come hungry for Tampa’s spectacular food scene

Sparkman Wharf is in the heart of downtown Tampa and offers a vibrant food scene with bay views. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

Tampa is the place for the eclectic palate. Two can’t-miss spots to nosh are Armature Works and Sparkman Wharf. You’ll want to eat all the things, and you won’t even come close to running out of fun food options. Sparkman Wharf is a lively downtown indoor/outdoor space with everything from upscale dining to food vendors in vibrantly hued, mural-covered shipping containers. 

If you’re a beer lover, put the LightHaus Beer Garden on your list of places to explore. LightHaus has over 40 varieties of local and craft beers, and you’re sure to find a new favorite. Sparkman Wharf is near Amalie Arena, home to Tampa Bay’s hockey team, the Lightning. If you hit Sparkman Wharf on a game day or when there’s a concert in town, expect lively crowds cheering for their favorite team.

Taking a water taxi is an adventure in itself. This is a relaxing way to ride from downtown Tampa to dinner at Armature Works. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

Armature Works is a food hall a short walk or water taxi ride from downtown. This mixed-use space has a trendy bar, outdoor games and individual food stands serving everything from freshly made pasta to BBQ to decadent desserts with gorgeous river views.

Armature Works is an indoor/outdoor gathering space and food hall where you can sample some of Tampa’s finest food. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

For traditional Cuban food and nightlife, check out Ybor City, an easy ride on the free downtown street car. Both the architecture and the slightly decadent vibe are reminiscent of New Orleans. Whether you’re looking for a traditional Cuban meal – the iconic Columbia Restaurant has been delighting the Tampa community for more than 100 years – or a fun, late-night scene, Ybor City is always where the party is happening. 

The best spot in Tampa to catch the sunset with a drink is at the newly-opened Beacon, the city’s tallest rooftop bar. Tucked on the 27th floor of the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, Beacon is the perfect pairing of swoon-worthy views of the bay and inventive cocktails. 

Things to do in Tampa

For a unique, hands-on activity in Tampa, tour the cigar factory in Ybor City and learn to roll cigars. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

Whether you’re planning a romantic escape or a friend group getaway, Tampa is the perfect short break for adults. If you’re planning a weekend away, eating and drinking your way through the food spaces and soaking in the stunning bay views makes for a relaxing short break.

The Florida Aquarium has over 9,000 aquatic animals and makes a great outing for both kids and adults. Photo courtesy Visit Tampa Bay.

If you want more things to do, there are many options close to downtown. Book a guided tour or a cigar-rolling class at J.C. Newman Cigar Company, America’s oldest family-owned cigar maker in Ybor City. The Florida Aquarium is a short walk or trolley ride from downtown. If you love 80s and 90s pop culture, grab a couple of drinks or a meal at the Gen X Tavern and take a trip down memory lane checking out their vast collection of entertainment memorabilia or hone your (probably rusty) skills at Pong or Atari. 

If you make Tampa a family vacation destination versus a grownup-only trip, there are plenty of attractions to shift your visit to something more kid-friendly. Check out Busch Gardens, Glazer Children’s Museum, and Laser Ops Xtreme Fun Center. Sports fans of any age will enjoy one of Tampa’s three professional sports teams. 

Where to stay in Tampa

The JW Marriott’s new rooftop bar, Beacon, has spectacular views of the city and Tampa Bay. Photo Jill Robbins.

The JW Marriott Tampa Water Street makes an ideal base camp for your Tampa city break for comfortable, approachable luxury in the middle of all the action. In addition to the rooftop bar, Beacon, there are five onsite restaurants, including Driftlight, the resort’s signature steakhouse, grab-and-go eats, and casual dining. The property connects to the Marriott Water Street, a slightly less luxe hotel with its own dining options. If you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, Anchor and Brine serves a fantastic seafood tower with a lovely view of Tampa Bay. 

Relax by the heated rooftop pool. Credit JW Marriott Tampa Water Street.

Suppose your idea of a perfect Tampa city break is indulgent self-care. In that case, the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street has a heated rooftop pool – splurge on a cabana for an extra touch of luxury – and Spa JW has 10 treatment rooms and a posh relaxation area to enjoy before or after a massage or facial.


Cover Photo Courtesy Visit Tampa Bay

Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in Insider, The Saturday Evening Post, Shondaland, Tripsavvy, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, Matador Network, and other publications. Her current project is Unique Eats in San Antonio, which will be published by Reedy Press in 2025. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else.