Living in the top tourism destination in the USA, it can be hard to break out of the theme park bubble and travel to other places. I love sharing my weekend trips for places that are close to Orlando and recommendations for food, attractions and can’t miss stops! In my last Weekend Getaway post, I showed off the highlights from a fun trip to Washington DC. Today I’m talking all about Tampa, Florida, only about an hour and a half away from Orlando.
One of my top, top, top destinations I’ve always wanted to visit has been Oxford Exchange. Their Instagram feed is a dreamy aesthetic and has everything I love, from brunch to a small bookstore. We drove straight to Oxford Exchange (Bless their free parking!) and looked around at all of the shops while waiting for brunch.
I loved the architecture and look of the building — amazing design and detail all around! If you know me at all, you know I love bookstores and can’t walk into one without buying at least one book! There’s also a Warby Parker store full of gorgeous glasses and a shop with cute trendy gifts.
Brunch is definitely a highlight — the whole restaurant is full of natural light and hip photos. The food is also incredible, I had the Cinnamon Raisin French Toast and a Mimosa (because #brunch obviously).
University of Tampa
Right across the street from Oxford Exchange is the University of Tampa! We walked around the gorgeous campus and learned all about the history behind it.
The main building is the historic former Tampa Bay Hotel, built by Henry B. Plant. The giant hotel closed before The Great Depression. Now called Plant Hall, the building is considered an icon of the Tampa area. Walking around the campus was a cool way to explore local Tampa.
Hyde Park Village
Hyde Park is the cutest area I’ve ever seen. We stopped at Hyde Park Village for the mini pumpkin patch and shopping area before walking around the neighborhood. All of the houses felt like they were straight from an HGTV special and it truly felt tucked back in the middle of the suburbs instead of 5 minutes away from the hustle of the city.
Of course, any stop at a trendy and cute shopping center means photos in front of insta-worthy walls! I loved the wall at Sprinkles cupcakes — anything light pink is my favorite. And the mini-pumpkin patch was perfect for a photo stop, especially with my fun “Fall in Florida” outfit. My Lilly Pulitzer dress was actually a thrifted find, and I paired it with my favorite piece of jewelry, my necklace from The Giving Keys! Hyde Park Village is a great destination shopping center.
Ybor City has a really cool history as well. Starting in the late 1800’s, Ybor City had cigar factories and large immigrant populations from Cuba, Spain and Italy. Nowadays, the neighborhood is known for nightlife and entertainment, but you can still feel the historical influences. A ton of cigar shops are still spread throughout the area, as well as authentic Italian and Spanish restaurants. Columbia Restaurant is located here, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Florida!
We also checked out a weird vintage store… a totally crazy experience! A lot of weird oddities including animal skeletons and old photos. Then we walked into the back room where they casually had alligators and GIANT snakes! Also a very Floridian experience if you’ve ever encountered any truly wild Florida.
Overall, Tampa is a great getaway for a weekend trip! The city has a ton of cool things to do, no matter what you’re into doing. I loved how the history of the town was easily accessible and made learning about Tampa a super fun experience. I can’t wait to head back for another fun getaway, especially for a Tampa Bay Lightning game!