Tampa, way to take this girl by surprise! It's pretty amazing what can happen when you travel with little expectations...Tampa thank you for a lovely little winter getaway!
I wont lie, I had no expectations when I decided to head to Tampa to watch my team compete in the 2016 CFB Playoff National Championship game against the Clemson Tigers. My thoughts were: 'OK I'll get some sun, sand, and ALABAMA FOOTBALL,' no high hopes for much else. As it turns out, Tampa surprised me! I had a wonderful weekend filled with great food, AWESOME yoga, and run in's with old friends. 'Bama may have lost the big game, but the weekend couldn't have been more of a winner!
Flying cross country is exhausting and the only thing that makes me feel better is yoga. Even with the Delta Comfort Plus upgrade seats, I always get off the plane feeling stuck and tight after hours of flying. Friday morning I had one mission, to find a yoga studio to get my flow on. Luckily my friend Lesley has a friend who owns a yoga studio, Bella Prana. The studio space is absolutely beautiful, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Tampa and the staff are extremely welcoming. Being a travel yogi is hard - are there mats?! Showers?! What's up with the studio culture, instructors, community? Honestly, it can be a total pain in the ass but there's no better way to kick off a long Alabama Football weekend.
Bella Prana: great location, offers free yoga mats, a great $36 intro deal for your first month (practically a steal if you plan on taking 3+ classes), along with amazing facilities (showers, hair ties, towels, etc.) and awesome instructors. I'll 100% be back when I'm in Tampa in April!
SOHO Juice Company: perfect post-yoga refuel, located a quick walk/ run away from Bella Prana. Choose from cold pressed juices, acai bowls, and booster shots to feel good from the inside out. It's the perfect way to get prepare yourself for a long party weekend in Tampa!
Salamander Spa at Innisbrook: a 45 minute drive out of Tampa, but totally WORTH IT! On the same grounds as the world renowned PGA Course: Copperhead, you'll find this stunning and perfect full service spa. I enjoyed a Lime + Ginger salt body scrub, my first reiki session, as well as a hot soak in the soaking pool followed by a steam in the eucalyptus room. This resort deserves its own weekend getaway to experience all four of the award winning golf courses, multiple full service restaurants, and the amazing spa all moments from Clearwater beach!
I spent my afternoons practicing yoga at Bella Prana, laying in the sun, and relaxing at the Spa. My evenings however, were filled with great meals, old and new friends, and some EPIC football! I wasn't lucky enough to book a reservation this trip at Bern's Steakhouse, but don't worry I already have one for my next trip! Friday night I found myself, accidentally, right in the middle of the Clemson Tigers welcome party with the whole team there - first sign that it was going to be an 'interesting' weekend filled with way too much orange for my liking.
Night Out Highlights:
Oystercatchers Hyatt Tampa: YUM! A beautiful restaurant right on the water tucked behind the Hyatt Tampa. We did it big: drinks, seafood tower, caviar, pork belly and scallops, even a whole fish and some how had room for desert! Awesome place to go if you love fresh seafood and a very large wine selection.
Hyde Park Cafe: locals told me this was the perfect place to go on a Friday night. HPC is located in the hip 'Soho' neighborhood and close to a few other cool bars. I won't lie, I felt a little old here at first, but getting hit on by 22yo's does good things for the ego, so I rolled with it. There are two different rooms for dancing, one side was rocking latin music while the other had the usual EDM that most clubs play these days. The two rooms are connected by a HUGE and awesome open courtyard for smoking hooka and people watching. There are over 4 bars and even though it was super crowded I never once had to wait for a drink, which I love!
Ybor: I was told that this is the sketchier side of Tampa?! We ended up here to drown our sorrows after the big loss on Monday night, it's a great place to bar hop! I'll be back to check out this part of town next time - I don't remember what bars we went into or really anything other than this area feeling much more relaxed than Soho, it reminded me a little bit of New Orleans. So go check it out and let me know what you think!
So, Bama may have lost the big game and Clemson is now #1 in the country, but all in all it was an unforgettable Championship weekend in Tampa. The game was one for the history books and I am so grateful I was in the stadium in club level seats with my pops to be a part of it all. I yelled, I cheered, I closed my eyes, I did all of my traditional Bama rituals and took the loss with dignity.
When we travel, we sometimes go with expectations or ideas of what we want/ need to have 'perfect weekend' but I've found that the only way to have a truly 'perfect weekend' is to go for it and just see what happens. Get to your destination and let your intuition guide you, listen to the locals but go with an open mind, and drop the idea that things have to be a certain way. Do that and you'll never be disappointed, no matter your destination or outcome!