Where to Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Tampa for the Gasparilla Bowl


With Knight Nation set to #TakeoverTampa for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (buy tickets here) on Dec. 23, we reached out to the Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter to get their picks for the best things to do in the Tampa Bay area.

Check out the picks below to plan your Tampa Bay getaway, and be sure to register for the UCF ChargeOn Tailgate presented by UCF Alumni. The event will be held at George M. Steinbrenner Field from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will include a catered buffet, drink tickets, spirit swag and more.

Are you a Tampa Bay Knight? Visit the Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter's Facebook page or reach out via email to get involved.

 Food and Drink

Armature Works
The Heights Public Market inside Armature Works is a 22,000-square-foot industrial market that offers something for everyone. With more than 15 vendors offering everything from ramen to craft beer to acai bowls, this hot spot just north of downtown on the Riverwalk is a top choice for lunch, dinner or drinks.

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Columbia Resturant
Family owned for well over a century — that's right, at 115 years old Columbia is Florida's oldest restaurant — this Ybor city haunt oozes Tampa history. A stroll through this restaurant reveals historic photos and art; and the Spanish- and Cuban-inspired dishes are among the best in town.

Oxford Exchange
With a sunlit conservatory and an open dining room covered in art, Oxford Exchange might be the most photogenic restaurant/market in Tampa Bay. But it's not all about the looks — the food served during weekday breakfast and lunch and weekend brunch is well worth a visit. Indoor vendors include local favorite roaster Buddy Brew coffee and a Warby Parker eyewear shop.

Downtown St. Petersburg
Fans looking for a night on the town should consider Downtown St. Petersburg, where the 200 block of Central Ave. offers a host of hip bars and restaurants.

Cigar City Brewing
While the Tasting Room is temporary closed, you can still take tours or pick up draft beer and merchandise from this famous brewery's mobile bar located in its parking lot. Other popular breweries in the area include Coppertail Brewing Co. near downtown, Brew Bus in Tampa Heights and 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Pete.

Family Fun

Busch Gardens Christmas Town
If high-flying coasters aren't enough to suit your family's fancy, Busch Gardens has plenty of holiday-themed shows, light displays and even visits from Santa and Rudolph to get you in the spirit. The park is open until 10 p.m. (excluding Christmas Eve) for the Christmas Town events. 

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
Located along the Tampa Riverwalk in Downtown Tampa near Armature Works, the Winter Village includes an ice skating rink, shops and a cafe.

Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market
The bowl game is no longer held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, but you can still visit for some festive fun. Work your way through a Christmas light maze, visit Santa or glide through the ice skating trail at this winter wonderland.