Ballast Point Tampa

City Gems: Tampa

In City Gems, Travel by City Gems1 Comment


I’m extremely lucky to have made my home sunny Tampa, Florida. I should probably thank my mom for that, actually, since she moved us down to the Tampa Bay area from Ohio when I was ten, but I digress…Tampa is so rich in history and such a beautiful part of our country! OK, I may be a bit biased about how wonderful Tampa is, but my hometown really IS flush with fun things to do with your family. So if you have been mulling over a trip to our fair city, I say go for it! It’s under an hour away from Florida’s finest beaches and a little over an hour from Disney World. If you need any more convincing, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite local, family-friendly, spots!

Ballast Point Tampa

Family time

I have two kiddos and when the second one came along, I struggled with the guilt I know all of you fellow mamas can relate to. I worried that my lil’ lady bean was missing out because she wasn’t getting all the one-on-one time that her brother got with us. One day it finally clicked with me that we can’t beat ourselves up over things we can’t change and although, she might not get to experience what being the sole focus of our attention is like, she does get to experience having her big brother as her fiercest ally…and that’s priceless!

little girl at Florida aquarium

After I had my epiphany, I decided that when my son was at school I was going to make the most of my alone time with my daughter, so we started taking mommy and me jaunts to various places around our city. She’s a little over 1 year old, and considering how fleeting this stage is, I want to make as many memories as possible with my lil’ bean. I used to take her brother everywhere when he was a toddler because he was my first baby and life just wasn’t as busy then. Considering that it is probably going to be quite a while before life slows down again, I’ve resolved to fit in quality time with my bambino whenever I possibly can. We may do something as simple as getting ice cream, but those memories of her going to town on a cone will last a lifetime! And speaking of ice cream…

Dairy Joy Tampa

Sweet treats

Our favorite neighborhood ice cream joint is Dairy Joy. Nestled in the heart of south Tampa, Dairy Joy is a low-key kinda place whereyou can expect to run into your friends and neighbors at any given point in time. It has been around for ages and has a very loyal following. I’ve been scoring my cones at Dairy Joy since long before my kiddos were born and I love that I get to share the experience with them now!

Ballast Point Tampa

Play time

Not too far away is Ballast Point Park. Ballast Point has everything from a pier with an insanely beautiful view of downtown Tampa, to a seafood shack, to even a playground and water play area. My lil’ lady bean just loves to race up and down the pier. It’s the perfect spot to let wee ones run off all that energy they seem to have endless amounts of!

Bayshore Boulevard Tampa

Next up is the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. Bayshore Boulevard is quintessential Tampa. It runs right along the Bay and makes for one of the prettiest sunset walks you will ever take.

Florida Aquarium

Nearby, in downtown Tampa, is The Florida Aquarium. There you’ll find tropical fish galore, fierce sharks, adorable penguins and more. Plus, they have a large-and-in-charge water park that includes a life size pirate ship with water cannons! My lil’ dude may have soaked a parent or two with said cannons. Haha! Pirates are a big part of Tampa history and each year we have a huge celebration called Gasparilla! So, anything with a pirate theme is a hit with us Tampanians.

Holy Hog BBQ Tampa

My final city gem is Holy Hog BBQ. It is tough to find good BBQ outside of the hot spots like Texas, Tennessee and the Carolinas, but Holy Hog has brought a deliciously authentic taste to Tampa. It can sometimes be hard to choose a restaurant that the whole family agrees on, but Holy Hog is always a hit with the ‘rents and our cherubs!  Try the pulled pork. It’s out of this world good!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little rundown of Tampa and if you’re ever in the area, keep my favorite spots in mind! Your kids will thank you!

About our City Gem author

bonbon rose girls-headshot-smallKristin Swenson is the fashion-obsessed founding partner of and contributing fashion editor for She lives in Tampa, FL with her husband and two children,  enjoys styling, writing, and is on a constant hunt for ways to help the girls next door — whether they’re busy career gals or harried mamas — stay hip and fashionable.

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  1. Reading your story here is very enjoyable. Remembering when I was younger. Every holiday, I took the child and my wife traveled to the beach, museum, zoo, train ride, etc.. Very beautiful. This will make the child have a broad insight. It is a means to educate children properly.

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