Tampa downtown and Channelside walk provide some great views, food

University of Tampa downtown

A “brush” with fame, good food and some interesting views greeted us along our tours of downtown Tampa.

On our first full day of checking out the Tampa area, we wanted to head to downtown. We love checking out the downtown area of every city we visit – large or small. You never know what you’ll encounter of learn.

Our GPS – nicknamed Gerty (she is a sweetheart) – had us almost to our destination at the Taco Bus for lunch. However, this is where our “brush” with fame occurs. The Tampa police department had the street we needed to turn on blocked off. Ugh! OK, we’ll try the next street. Same thing. We ended up driving about 3-4 blocks out-of-the-way to find a place to park. As soon as I saw an empty spot, I took it.

Streets blocked off for filming in Tampa downtown

We figured we were a few blocks from Taco Bus. But the street we were going to walk down was blocked off. So, we agreed to stop at the first place we saw. Ah, welcome to The Tampa Pizza Company. OK. Good enough. We ordered a Hawaiian pizza, split some meatball sliders. We each had an organic diet cola. It wasn’t too bad, lacking only the carbonation most sodas have.

Tampa Pizza Company in Tampa downtown

Following lunch, we realized we didn’t have much time to tour downtown, and with all the police around, we decided to come back.

The reason for all the police commotion? Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad,” “Malcolm in the Middle”) was in town filming the movie “The Infiltrator.” It’s due for a 2016 release in theaters. Benjamin Bratt, Diane Kruger and John Leguizamo also star. Our “brush” with fame was having our traffic route blocked by filming.

We eventually ended up spending parts of the next day downtown and along the Channelside (river walk). We took a photography tour in the morning, which gave us a different view of downtown attractions. Later, in the afternoon and evening, we walked along the area.

We finally made it to Taco Bus for a taco snack. Excellent tacos. They offer the “El Jefe” – a 2.5 lbs. burrito consisting of two tortillas, double rice and beans, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. Add meat and you have a real challenge. A portion of the proceeds for the El Jefe go to first responder charities. We passed on the El Jefe.

Taco Bus in Tampa downtown

As we continued our self-guided tour of downtown, we scoped out some of the interesting architecture the area offers. Skyscrapers adorn downtown with some interesting designs – circular buildings, as well as other unique styles.

Skyscrapers in Tampa downtown

During our photo tour, we checked out some public art surrounded by buildings.

Art on the University of Tampa campus near downtown

We spent a little more time on the campus of the University of Tampa, along the river walk. Plant Hall (a former resort) has a unique design with Moorish minarets, domes and cupolas.

Plant Hall on the University of Tampa campus in Tampa downtown

The campus has a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy had visited Tampa and delivered a speech four days before he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963.

Memorial to Kennedy on the University of Tampa downtown

We stopped in a book store and coffee shop near campus. Unfortunately, they were closing so no coffee break for us. However, I did see an antique typewriter.

Antique typewriter at a stop in Tampa downtown

As we moved out way back through downtown, we came upon a police memorial. The design was interesting. The light presented an outline of a police officer against the building. In front of the design, a hat and gun belt lay.

Police Memorial in Tampa downtown

A short drive along the Channelside was the Ulele Restaurant. The restaurant – named after a Native American from the 1500s – is located in a renovated water works building. The food was delicious.

Ulele restaurant in Tampa downtown

Following dinner at Ulele, we visited the newly completed portion of the Channelside river walk. The walkway’s overhangs resemble sailboat sails. They change colors throughout the evening. It’s a beautiful stroll along the river and downtown.

Tampa Riverwalk downtown

We enjoyed our visit to downtown Tampa, and recommend checking it out when in town. We know we scratched the surface and will explore more the next time we’re in town.

For more information on downtown Tampa attractions, please visit www.visittampabay.com.