Tampa, FL

Introduction to Tampa, FL

After leaving SFO on Wednesday afternoon, Scott and I pulled into the Tampa airport at around 12:30AM. We booked a hotel near the airport so we could get in quickly and get a bit of shuteye before embarking on a weekend of wedding festivities. After getting our luggage, getting to the hotel and finishing some work up, we were finally asleep by about 3:30AM, leaving us just enough time to catch some zzzs before our 8:15AM wake up call.


Needless to say, waking up was a bit rough when Thursday morning rolled around but we managed to get moving and get checked out slightly after 9AM. The groom, one of Scott’s college friends, came to pick us up from our hotel, giving us some time to hang out with him and his then-fiancee over breakfast. We headed straight to the West Tampa Sandwich Shop where we fueled up with breakfast sandwiches before setting off on the boat.

Naturally, the bride had some pre-wedding beauty obligations to tend to, but a small group of us headed out in the 85 degree sunshine for an afternoon of boating and lunching on Anna Maria Island. After coming in from not-so-warm San Francisco, the weather couldn’t have felt more inviting. The fact that we were on a boat during March was enough to put a smile on my face.

Boating in Tampa

We posted up at Rod & Reel Restaurant on Anna Maria Island for some authentically Floridian fish sandwiches and people watching. For some inexplicable reason, I particularly love the photo below. There’s something about the guy in the white tank, smoking a cigarette and fishing that captures the essence of this moment.


After lunch, we slowly made our way back to our home base at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Tampa to get cleaned up before linking up with the rest of the group for dinner and drinks. After our night at an airport hotel, the Hyatt was a very welcome change. Plus, this goodie bag:

Gotta love the koozies!

After convening at the bride and groom’s abode on Davis Island, we headed out to The Lodge, where they offered a surprising mix of sliders, sushi, salads and sweet potato fries. A bit confused perhaps, but considering sushi and sweet potatoes are possibly my two favorite food groups, I was a happy camper. Throw in sangria and live music, and we definitely have a winner.


We hung out at The Lodge for quite a while before migrating to McDinton’s down the way to finish up the night. With more college friends slowly trickling in to the mix, I knew it was going to be a long evening of bonding and reminiscing, so I called it an early night (2:30AM, so clearly I’m using the term ‘early’ loosely) and let the boys have their bonding/bromancing time. All in all, a great first day and an awesome introduction to Tampa!

Check back for Day 2: another day on the boat, lunch in Ybor City and an incredible rehearsal dinner at the Tampa Club!


More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.